Connecting through writing, information services and the marimba

Nancy Novitski is a strategic communications specialist for IS

Editor’s note: Duck of the Week is a new section in Around the O Workplace that highlights UO employees and their work. Each story features an interview with one employee, in his or her own words, with light editing for clarity and length only.

Nancy Novitski
Strategic Communications Specialist for Information Services

How long have you worked at UO?

Eight years.

In your own words, what do you do?

I communicate to campus about technology. I'm with University Communications, but I work with Information Services, which is the central IT department. Information Services is making changes all the time to the technology that campus uses on a daily basis. Some of those changes are small, some are really big — everything from routine maintenance up to launching new services — and my job is to figure out how changes will impact people and how to communicate about what's changing for them. We also want to make people aware of all the existing technology that's available to them here.

What does your typical day look like? How has it changed this past year?

I usually spend part of my day in meetings and part of my day planning and writing communications. It’s really similar to before the pandemic, except now all my meetings are online on Microsoft Teams or Zoom. One thing I love about my job is that I get to be a core member of project teams for launching big new services, like UOmail, so a lot of those meetings are for project planning.

In IS we do also respond to emergent needs and COVID was a good example of that. Everyone’s schedule flew out the window overnight. In late March and early April, it was all COVID, all the time, and everything was moving at light speed. We basically launched Zoom over a weekend. We were constantly needing to communicate things in different ways, include quickly putting up the Going Remote webpage.

Since then we’ve been able to get closer to our regular schedules and projects and revisit some of our work from last spring. For example, we recently relaunched the Going Remote page as Remote Technology.

What do you like about working at the UO?

I love so many things. I love my job and the work I get to do. We have a great team in Information Services. I’m lucky, because I have two great teams, including University Communications. I feel fortunate to work alongside people who really care about supporting students and faculty every day. I also love being part of this vibrant community. Over the years I’ve attended lectures and events. I’ve taken some classes. Campus is also like working in a park. I’m not there right now, but I really appreciate it when I am.

What keeps you inspired?

I’ve been really inspired by how many people have gotten active around racial justice in the last few months. I appreciate that the university is dedicating time and resources to that at many different levels. It’s been exciting to come together with other people to take action.

What is something people may not know about you?

I play Zimbabwean marimba music through Kutsinhira Cultural Arts Center. It's this incredible polyrhythmic music. I was first exposed to it through an uncle growing up. When I moved to Eugene, I went to a free concert, then started taking lessons and was immediately hooked. Eventually I joined a band.

I became president of the Kutsinhira board in January. We’re making a lot of big decisions in the face of the pandemic. At the moment we’re not able to have events and classes and that’s affecting our budget. As a board, we put in place some pretty strict protocols and were able to open for a few months this summer by being outdoors, wearing masks and social distancing. It was so nice to play music together again. Playing virtually is a real challenge. We do hope to be able to continue to adapt in the coming months.

Nancy is a part of Information Services and University Communications. She helped create and manage Information Services’ Remote Technology webpage, formerly known as Going Remote.

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