Finding the supplies to keep the university safe during COVID-19

Shari Powell, associate director for Purchasing and Contracting Services

Editor’s note: Beyond the Call is a new section in Around the O Workplace that highlights the exceptional work of UO employees during COVID-19. Each story features an interview with one employee, in his or her own words, with light editing for clarity and length. 

Shari Powell
Associate Director of Outreach and Operations

How long have you worked at the UO? 

I have worked at the UO since 1997 so 23 years.

Tell us about your work: 

In my normal non-COVID existence, I have kind of a mix of jobs. I do operations for the office and outreach to minority and women owned small businesses in the state of Oregon. I try to form relationships and make us not such a hard place to do business with. I manage our e-procurement site on campus called Duck Depot and I also help with the Amazon Prime account that we have on campus.

What does your workday look like during COVID-19? 

When COVID happened, I had to shift focus, so I've been working on the logistics teams. I am the person who gets paid to go shopping. I've ordered a lot of things that I don't actually know what they are sometimes. It takes a lot of work to identify and figure out where we might get the things we need. We're getting a lot of things you wouldn't think of like pop up shelters for the testers to stand under, scrubs, note pads. Trying to access that type of equipment is kind of hard because of shortages.

It's really different every day, looking at pricing and trying to figure out what we have enough of or too much of. With the potential of resumption happening, we ordered 60,000 cloth face masks for all students and employees. We also ordered 500 back-to-work kits. Each kit has a box of mask that you can give out to guests, it has a bottle of spray sanitizing solution, a couple of reusable microfiber clothes and a couple bottles of hand sanitizer.

I also work closely with the science stores and mail services. I check on orders, I send out requests to different vendors, I negotiate with departments on campus, I help with the mapping project and I respond to vendors.

What is keeping you motivated during this challenging time? 

Being with the UO over 23 years, obviously I'm pretty dedicated to it and I believe in the cause. I hope to finish my career here. I've always loved working here because I love new ideas, I value education highly and I love our students. We want them to be safe. Everything I'm doing goes toward opening us back up and getting us back to our new normal.

Our team is amazing. They always work super hard and are so supportive, but we're also goofballs. We're small but we do a lot of work. They're really good together in a way that I haven't seen very many places, so shout out to them because they certainly are doing their part!

Shari Powell is a part of the Purchasing and Contracting Services 

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