Archive | May, 2012

Meet the Staff: Thom Ruby

By Sherry McKendry

When you were a kid, what did you want to be?  If anyone asked young Thom Ruby what he wanted to be when he grew up, he would reply, “A history teacher!” because of his love of the subject, especially the American Civil War.  A check of salaries for this profession, however, led him to major in health care management at University of Maryland, Baltimore.  Working his senior year at Johns Hopkins University’s Cancer Center led to a full-time job in administration, a challenging position given that he worked with both patients and their families.  

Citing a form of burnout at JHU, he started “career shopping” and landed a job at Towson in 1979 as assistant director of Auxiliary Services, overseeing revenue-producing contracts with vendors and food providers.  Thom then held positions of successively more responsibility, from the Director of Events & Conference Services to the University Union Director for the next five years. 

Following more staff changes, Thom became the Associate Vice President for Auxiliary for another couple of years, but it wasn’t until he was appointed to his current position of Director of the Bursar’s Office that he found the home that’s been his for the last 18 years. 

Thom Ruby

Constantly looking to improve customer service and save money through technology, Thom initiated an “eBill” program, which provides a payment gateway for electronic check payments of tuition remission and other invoices for students or their parents.  By eliminating credit card payments, the university realized more than a million dollars in merchant fees! 

A new goal is to establish an in-house tuition deferred program that is due to roll out in fall 2013.  Students and parents will be able to spread payment for the semester’s fee over a more manageable 5 month period instead of the single lump cost at the start of each semester.  Can’t you just hear parents all over breathing a sigh of relief?  

One other program Thom plans to automate is the 1098 tax form that is sent to each student annually.  Electronic delivery will eliminate the costs of paper and postage for TU. 

In addition to all of the job titles Thom has collected at TU, he also proudly wears the title of “Dad.”  His daughter Shelby is a gerontology major and Thom plans to be her first case.   Other titles he’d like to add are “international traveler” and “sailor,” since he dreams of sailing down the Intracoastal Waterway from the Chesapeake Bay to Key West.  His love of the water is the reason he joined the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary where he performs vessel safety checks, provides educational programs and patrols the local waters to ensure boater’s safety. 

Safety and training are part of Thom’s responsibility with another group he works with, that of S.A.F.E. Management, an organization that provides stadium security for the Baltimore Ravens.   Having attended eight Super Bowls, Thom’s experience with customer service and safety is the basis of his training program for new S.A.F.E.  staff.

Finally, there is one more title Thom carries with pride.  Years ago, while observing shopping mall Santas interact with young children, he noticed the long tiring lines that families endured to have their children talk to “Santa” and have quick photos taken of the event.   Thom realized that an unhurried visit with Santa would be a much more pleasant experience in a child’s home environment, with personal information on hand relating to each child. 

That was the beginning of Santas Visits R Us, with Thom in the starring role.  So convincing is Thom in his role that last year when a father thanked him for “his show” the mother punched the father’s arm and declared, “That wasn’t a show!  He’s Santa Claus!”  Now, that’s an impressive job title.

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2011-2012 Year In Review

Another academic year is coming to a close, and oh, what a year it’s been! A lot has happened over the past ten months and what better time than now to look back and reflect? Click on the links to read more about each milestone in TU’s history.

The 2011-2012 academic year was an exciting one with many changes, but Towson’s future is brighter than ever with more great things to come! What are you most looking forward to next year?

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Q&A with New Facilities Project Manager Lisa Taylor

By Brenda Kempa

Lisa Taylor joined the Facilities Management Department in March as a Project Manager for the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction group.  Lisa graduated from the Catholic University of America with her Masters in Architecture and has a wealth of experience in commercial and government projects.  As a Project Manager, Lisa manages new projects on campus. 

 What drew you to Towson?

I had been looking for a job in the university environment because I enjoy working in a community setting.  It’s exciting and rewarding to see the projects I’ve worked on come to fruition and being able to see the people who are benefitting from them.  The campus community is lively, and I know my projects are going to good use.

What projects are you working on at TU?

The Towson Run kitchen and bathroom renovations, the new elevator in the Media Center, repairs and renovations to the University Union stair tower and soffit, as well as various Academic Affairs projects, including renovations for new office spaces and improvements to existing offices, labs and classroom spaces. 

Lisa Taylor

How was the transition from your previous job to here?

My previous job was more design-oriented, and I’ve come from a background of working at small firms where I had to be well-rounded in all aspects.  However, my job at Towson requires me to be specific to certain aspects of the projects I am working on.

What are some of your favorite projects you’ve worked on at past jobs?

I really enjoyed some of the upscale restaurant projects I’ve worked on in the past, especially the Blue House in Kenilworth.  I also managed the regional new construction for Starbucks.  I have a background in architecture but I also have my interior license, which I love because I think the interior of a building is just a continuation of the exterior.

Who are some of your favorite architects?  What about your favorite places architecturally?

Some of my favorite architects are Renzo Piano, who has worked on various projects around the world, as well as KieranTimberlake, an architecture firm in Philadelphia that is known for its Loblolly House.  I love traveling, and Europe is especially interesting from the architectural standpoint, because of the age of the buildings and their unique historical values.

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Fond Memories of TU’s Employee Picnic

By Donna Auvil

The Annual Employee picnic is right around the corner!  This year’s event will be held on Friday, June 1 from 4 to 8 p.m. on Burdick Field.  Joe Oster, Associate Vice President of Auxiliary Services, and his team have been hard at work planning this year’s event to make sure everything is perfect for the entire TU campus and their families! 

The employee picnic started in 1995 and was originally planned by the employees of the Office of Human Resources.  The original picnic was held during the work day and was only for employees.  For a nominal fee, you were able to attend the luncheon held on the University Union patio.  According to Mary Anne Czyz, Director of Finance & Administration for OTS and Anna Herr, retiree of Fiscal Planning & Services, the original picnic was known for its mad dash to the buffet so everyone ensured they  got their lunch.  Dessert was provided by the cake contest and other events included fundraisers like the dunking booth, cow bingo and “pie in the face.” 

2011 TU Employee Picnic

In 1999, the picnic was turned over to Auxiliary Services.  A committee of very creative and hard workers was formed from various A&F departments.  Auxiliary Services was able to increase the budget and the picnic grew to also include families.  This also marked the beginning of choosing a theme for the annual picnic.

Over the years, we have had many different themes.  Who remembers the “Day at the Beach” picnic of 2000 that was held in the courtyard of Prettyman Hall?  This was the first introduction of the sand pit and boy did the kids love it!  The sand has been a popular addition to all picnics now, regardless of theme. 

One of the most popular themes was “The Rodeo.”  Sadly, that year the rains took over and we moved everything into the lower level of the garage.  But the rain didn’t stop the fun we had with hay bales, games and lots of music. An amazing time was still had by all. 

Speaking of rain, Joe Oster and Landscape Services Manager, Paul Thomas, are famous for watching the weather starting a week out from the picnic’s scheduled date.  They are constantly watching the radar and doing their dance to the sun gods to bring good weather.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, so start doing your rain dance now for June 1!  Like a true Boy Scout Joe is prepared to make a location change to the garage at any minute if necessary. 

Two years ago, there was talk of cancelling the picnic due to budget constraints, but the committee wouldn’t have it!  We needed this event to celebrate with our friends from campus.  Despite a major slash to the budget, another great event was held.  We went back to our roots and held an Old Fashioned Picnic complete with sack races, balloon tosses and hula hoop contests. 

Kids hanging out in the sandbox!

I know this year I am looking forward to catching up with old friends and colleagues that I don’t get to see that often, and my teenaged son is ready to chow down on the awesome menu: pit beef, smoked ham, hot dogs, beans, macaroni and cheese, corn on the cob and so much more!

This year the theme is “Catch the Towson Wave.”  Get ready to check out the boardwalk for a photo booth, face painting, and a balloon artist.  A special thanks goes out to the awesome group of employees that pitch in every year to help with this massive event.  Come out on June 1 to show them some love, eat ‘til you burst and celebrate TU!

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Meet the Staff: Nisar Ahmad Khan

By Nisar Ahmad Khan

I was born in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and I was educated as a mechanical engineer there. Well known as one of Pakistan’s best hill resorts, Abbottabad lies along the Karakoram Highway (also known as the Silk Route) to China. Many tourists come here because of the beauty, but also because Abbottabad is a gateway to China, India, and the Himalayas.

After getting a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, I worked for my  family’s business for about eight months.  We built hotels, food courts, restaurants, and a family park, and offered mountain biking for our guests. After that, I wanted to get a master’s degree in the U.S. and asked my family for financial help to do this.  In exchange for their support, I wanted to give back and expressed interest in building a scenic lift for them in Abbottabad which would provide jobs for the town people and attract tourists to our businesses. 

After graduation from Oklahoma City University, I jumped into the lift project, which included setting up the ground profile and terrain. Then I bought a ski lift from Aspen, Colorado, and shipped thirteen 40-foot containers to Pakistan. On my own and through on-line classes, I learned the engineering software program, Autocad, to design the ground profile.

Because of my mechanical engineering background, I did all preliminary designs before passing the project on to an engineering firm in Spokane, Washington.  They did the final design, and the scenic lift is now under construction in Abbottabad.  If all goes according to plan, the lift will open at the end of the year.  I will be there to participate in the opening when I return to Pakistan over the holiday break in December 2012.

With my interest in engineering and design, I decided to take on another project in Pakistan:  completely renovating my family’s home.  I learned chief architect software, teaching me how to design new houses and renovate old ones.  I wanted to significantly enlarge the home, increasing the square footage from 3,000 to 10,000, and create a more open, airy design. I developed my own multilevel architectural style, combining split level and colonial styles. 

A third project of mine back home in Pakistan is the creation of a water turbine, or duct tunnel, to carry water from a nearby river to the family compound.  The turbine produces 200 kilowatts of electricity to supply all homes in the compound, as well as the family flour mill. 

While these projects are underway in Pakistan, I support the TU Office of Technology Services as senior lead application developer, making Baltimore my U.S. home.  This past winter, I became a U.S. citizen, something I am very proud of.  I love to travel the world in my “spare time,” and have visited several places in Canada, as well as Dubai, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia.  Because I enjoy helping people, I have assisted flood and earthquake victims in Pakistan.  As you can probably tell, I like to have my hands in many projects at one time.

Oh, one more thing: I play a mean game of racquetball with my TU colleagues!

Interior of the home Nisar helped remodel on his family’s compound in Pakistan.

The water turbine Nisar designed generates 200 kilowatts of electricity for his family’s compound.


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Weekend Planner

Not sure what to this weekend or just sick of doing the same old things? Spice up your weekend by attending one of these great TU events. 

  • Watch the No. 15 girls lacrosse team take on No. 12 Penn State on Saturday, May 12 at 3 p.m., right here at Johnny Unitas Stadium.  The matchup is a part of the first round of NCAA playoffs and is sure to be a good one. Click here to buy your tickets to cheer on the team.  Go Tigers!   
  • The UStore is holding its annual Spring Sale so it’s the perfect time to stock up on some new Towson gear. All regularly priced clothing is 20% off and selected clearance items are 25% to 50% off.  Hurry there before the sale ends on Saturday, May 26 and all of the great deals are gone!
  • This weekend the Towson University Field Station, located in Monkton, is holding an open house.  The TU Field Station provides biology students with hands-on learning experiences in the wilderness.  On Saturday, May 12 from noon to 4 p.m. alumni and community members can spend their day learning about local wildlife, take nature walks or just enjoy some hot dogs and hamburgers.  For more information click here or contact Alumni Relations at x4-2234.
  • Looking for more of a cultural experience this weekend?  Well the Center for the Arts has plenty planned to satisfy that craving. The student production of Bacchai is playing this weekend along with the Dance Department’s last show of the semester, Intersections.  It’s also your last chance of the academic year to check out the Greater Baltimore Youth Orchestra.  Whatever performance you choose, it’s sure to be outstanding!   
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Have you seen that Gnome?

By Stacy Elofir

Right before Spring Break the Office of Student Activities and the University Store decided to bring a little March Gnome Madness to Towson University. This was the idea…10 crazy days, 10 student winners, 10 hiding gnomes all over campus. A daily scavenger hunt to find those escaped gnomes. What a fun thing to do to get students involved before Spring Break and partner with departments all over campus.

 All of the departments that we contacted were excited and willing to participate. Each hiding place had its own set of clues given from each area. I was so glad that I didn’t have to write the clues; I am really bad at that sort of thing. What I didn’t know is how great each clue would be and that each clue would reflect the flavor of the department.

Cook Library wrote, “You can always get help wherever you roam. Just Ask a Librarian how to locate a journal and you’ll find that gnome.”

The Glen wrote, “In a room all made of glass, I am in the center of attention, Hansel and Gretel would not venture near.”

One of the TU gnomes used in the scavenger hunt.

Another gnome hiding on campus!

Student Affairs, Center for Student Diversity, Athletics, the Center for the Arts, Burdick Gym, The Career Center, and HRL all got involved. I had this clue from one auspicious office, “This aspiring gnome is learning how Towson’s executive office runs.” Can you guess where he was found? I am inspired by the teamwork and the ability for us as staff to do something fun for our students and that showcases the spirit of our school. Thank you, all who participated, helped, cheered and laughed with us. Now let’s come up with something else we can do together. It breaks up the day and it inspires us to do more!

Oh…and these guys are available at the Ustore. Give a Gnome a Home!

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EHS Tackles Safety in the Workplace

By Susanna Craine

On Thursday, May 24 at the Conference Center at Sheppard Pratt SERMA will officially recognize Towson University.  You’re probably asking, what on earth is SERMA? Is it yet another elusive acronym disguised by initials, or is it an organization worth learning about?

SERMA stands for “State Employee Risk Management Administration.” Each campus in the University System of Maryland is provided with risk management services in an agreement through SERMA.  The organization helps reduce the potential for workplace injuries and thus controls workers’ compensation costs by reducing the number of workers injured on their jobs.

The injury claims by Towson in calendar year 2011 were reduced by 10% when compared to calendar year 2010.

How was this done? Through the hard work of a small, but important department on campus: Environmental Health and Safety (EHS). Larry Holbrook, Director of EHS, says that his operation is all about training and inspections.  EHS employs just seven people at their 7400 York Road headquarters, but the rest of TU is almost 25,000 people spread out over hundreds of acres.  Holbrook’s caution is to go slow, pay attention and handle equipment and anything else we are using with great care.

Given the range of occupations and academic programs on campus, we have people handling power tools and other kinds of electrical devices, using chemicals, caring for animals, doing water-based research, and performing health-related exercises involving sharps, medicines and blood-borne pathogens. But it doesn’t end there!  Others on campus are mastering myriad other esoteric equipment that pertains to astronomy, landscaping, athletics, painting, clean-up, entertaining … you name it!  And all of these activities require procedures and policies to protect those who are engaged in them.

EHS is vigilant in the area of programs that need to be designed and taught to people with especially challenging occupations.  There is continuous vetting of new methodologies and/or new equipment that need supervision.  That is why Larry and his stalwart experts know the campus so thoroughly.  The three p’s – procedures, policies and programs – must be launched and evaluated on the turf they will be practiced on. 

Thus far, 2011 and 2012 have been A+ years for EHS.  We can help them continue to score well by watching our own safety.

EHS staff (from left to right) Diane Douglass, Larry Holbrook, Gregg Wood, Cpl. Joe Gregory, Paul Parrish, Rick Setzer and Donna McLaughlin

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Personnel Announcement

Wondering what’s going on in the lives of your colleagues? Check out the information below to find out. If you’d like to contribute an item to the personnel announcement, e-mail

 May Birthdays

All birthdays listed are based on the contributions of divisional staff. If you would like to have a birthday added to or removed from the list, please e-mail

May 1 – Tom Alcide, OTS

May 3 – Randy Peaker, Human Resources

May 4 – Jim Monroe, OTS

May 7 – Nick Gingue, Auxiliary Services

May 7 – Connie Proffitt, Fiscal Planning and Services

May 8 – Joe Oster, Auxiliary Services

May 8 – Dorothy Proctor, Fiscal Planning and Services

May 8 – Dave Schroeder, OTS

May 11 – Phillip Morgan, Facilities

May 11 – Dave Rose, Facilities

May 15 – Jeff Clark, Facilities

May 16 – Karen Michalak, OTS

May 16 – Betty White, Fiscal Planning and Services

May 17 – Jonathan Lindhorst, Facilities Management

May 18 – John Logan, Facilities

May 23 – Andrew Charles, Facilities

May 23 – Susan Fata, Auxiliary Services

May 23 – Ed Millard, Facilities

May 23 – Shawn Rauscher, Facilities

May 26 – Myron Esterson, Auxiliary Services

May 26 – Sandy Levin, Fiscal Planning and Services

May 26 – Charise Rice, Auxiliary Services

May 26 – Jeff Sutton, Fiscal Planning and Services

May 28 – Lorraine Hart, Fiscal Planning and Services

May 30 – Nisar Khan, OTS

May 31 – Rick Morrocco, Human Resources

May 31 – Sandra White, Fiscal Planning and Services

New Hires & Retirements

Boris Kiselev joins OTS Enterprise Services as an Oracle Database Administrator. Welcome to TU, Boris!

Several new employees joined the Office of Human Resources this month.  A big welcome to Bonnie Yourik, Aneika Peoples and Dominica Lucas!

Awards and Honors

 On Thursday May 3, the 28th Annual Service Awards Ceremony was held in West Village Commons.  Faculty and staff from across the campus were recognized for their years of service to the university, including several members of Administration & Finance.  Congratulations to all!

 Five Years

Thomas Alcide, OTS

William Brewer Jr., Facilities

Quentin Brown, Facilities

Joseph Byer, Facilities

Emily Centeno, Mail Services

Louis Ciotola Jr., ECS

Kevin Clancy, Facilities

Steven Cullum, Facilities

Dixie Davies, ECS

Edward del Sordo, OTS

Mary Dunaway, OHR

John Filardo, OTS

Denise Fisher, Financial Services

Richard Geiwitz, University Police

Richard Herbert, Parking & Transportation

Michael Iacaruso, OTS

Robert Jones, OTS

Alberto Lagos, Financial Services

Andrew Martin, OTS

Cedrick McCoy, University Police

Raymond Monczewski, University Store

Phillip Morgan, Facilities

Sandra Mryncza, OTS

Brian O’Connell, University Budget Office

Ronald Peacock Jr., Facilities

Amie Pfeifer, OTS

Timothy Riegert, OTS

Theodor Robinson, Parking & Transportation

Travis Ryer, OTS

Richard Setzer, EHS

Jafar Taru, University Police

Michael Temple, Facilities

Colin Tewey, Materiel Management

James Williamson, Fiscal Planning & Services

 Ten Years

Jeffery Barnes, Facilities

Carey Bonvenga, University Store

Irwin Browder, Printing Services

Jeffery Clark, Facilities

Audrey Clark, OTS

Joan Doremus, Auxiliary Services

Sharon Freedman, OTS

Thomas Garrison, OTS

Bernard Gerst, University Police

Diane Gossman, Administration & Finance

Verna Green, Auxiliary Services

Stuart Heilman, Procurement

Charles (Joe) Herring, University Police

Thomas Hodge, Facilities Management

Donald Miller Jr., Facilities

Karen Minor, OTS

Rebecca Mundschenk, OTS

Robert Novak, University Police

Angelo Rinaudo, Facilities

Noel Robins, University Police

Patrick Rohe, OTS

Ronald Santana, OTS

Robert Walton, Parking & Transportation

Jean West, University Police

Fifteen Years

Mark Addy, OTS

Eric Cannizzo, OTS

Timothy Collins, University Store

Rene Florendo, Facilities

Carla Hall, OHR

James Hardin, OTS

Bernie Hunter, Facilities

David Mayhew, Facilities

William Meagher, Financial Services

Joseph Oster, Auxiliary Services

David Rose, Facilities

Tracie Rusnak, Facilities

Henry Silk, University Store

Bethany Spriggs, ECS

Jeffery Sutton, Procurement

Craig Turkington, OTS

Maria Zimmerman, Financial Services

Twenty Years

Gregory Daniels, University Police

Louise Dunton, University Store

Thomas Fisher, University Police

Craig Fringer, Access Control

Larry Long, Materiel Management

Alfred Luebben, Facilities

Miriam (Ginger) McGeehan, Materiel Management

Edward Millard, Facilities Management

Clay Minor, Facilities

Robert Neff, Facilities

Terry Pompey, University Police

Gail Price, OHR

Frank Remesch, University Police

Lawrence Sweringen, Facilities

David Turner, Facilities

Twenty-five Years

Jahmahl Abdul-Rahmaan, Printing Services

Robert Cave, OTS

David Elliott, Facilities

Scott Guckert, Facilities

Carl Harris, Facilities

Barbara Hufnagel, Procurement

Michele Kreider, Procurement

John Logan, Facilities

Michael Medairy, Facilities

Richard Morrocco, OHR

Warren Riefner, Facilities

David Troyer, Facilities

Thirty Years

David Anderson, Copies Plus

Phillip Butler, Materiel Management

Robert Childs, Materiel Management

Thirty-Five Years

Thomas Wentz, Facilities

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