Using virtual formats to help prospective students visit campus

Micah Howe

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 only.

Micah Howe
Assistant Director for Visit Programs

How long have you worked at the UO?

Two years.

I started at the University of Oregon in January of 2018.

Tell us about your work:

In a nutshell, my role involves coordinating campus visits and large-scale recruitment events for prospective students and their families. I also oversee our staff of about 60 student ambassadors. I help coordinate the hiring, training and scheduling for student ambassadors who lead those tours and then also the logistics and the behind-the-scenes components of our larger events.

In a typical recruitment cycle, we host upwards of 40,000 visitors each year, ranging from prospective students and their families of all different grade levels and transfer students. But we also host campus tours for different constituencies like alumni, donors, community organizations, exchange programs, high school classes…I mean, the list goes on and on.

What does your workday look like during COVID-19?

Well, I will say the commute is a breeze. I have enjoyed working from home more than I thought I would. A typical morning involves making a big mug of tea. I'm an avid loose-leaf tea drinker. I check emails and see which students are on the schedule for the day and what projects they're working on. Generally, I would say my calendar has been a little lighter, which has allowed me to really crank out projects and maintain focus with minimal distractions.

The primary changes in my world started when the university deemed it unsafe for visitors to travel from out of town. It became apparent pretty quickly that we needed to start canceling tours and discouraging our visitors from leaving home and coming to campus. We started brainstorming ways to shift our programming from an on-campus, in-person format to a virtual format that our guests could take advantage of anywhere they had a Wi-Fi connection. It’s been a fun opportunity to reimagine our offerings for visitors to learn about the UO.

What is keeping you motivated during this challenging time?

I think what's inspired me the most is our ability to maintain meaningful connections with our coworkers and students even though we're living and working in different places. The highlights of my day in this work-from-home environment are when I get to log on to Zoom calls and see my coworkers smiling faces and see what they're up to. I expected working from home to feel really lonely and it doesn't.

Micah is part of Student Orientation Programs.

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