Phil Johnston Retiring Sept. 2020

September 28, 2020

Written by ITS staff, Jim Phillips, Bruce Horn, Gary Gyorkos.

After a dynamic and invaluable career in ITS, Phil Johnston is retiring from UCSC on Sept. 30. Phil started working for the UCSC Learning Technologies (then Media Services) department in 1999. Like many staff in ITS, he began in the Support Center, working as the front desk manager before moving to field support of media and computing for campus events and classes.

Phil working at a UCSC event.

21 Years of Service

Over the past 21 years, Phil has staffed and led media support for thousands of events, ranging from small-scale informal gatherings to the very largest, most high-profile functions on campus. He provided class support for instructors and students, responding when an urgent need arose so that the use of media and computing equipment in the classroom met or exceeded their expectations.

Phil has shown particular interest in ensuring that our instructional support is inclusively designed and accessible to students with disabilities. He committed a great amount of time, thought and research to that cause, participating for many years on the Assistive Technology Committee and contributing to the advances our campus has achieved in this area. Working with other dedicated staff of ITS, Phil would go the extra mile to make sure a student had what they needed when they needed it.

Another one of Phil's key responsibilities includes the automated test scoring service that ITS provides to campus. Many instructors relied on Phil and his team to process the massive load of scores in short order each term so that grades could be delivered to anxiously awaiting students. His oversight of this critical instructional service and his input on the technologies used resulted in improvements to reliability, accuracy, and customer service ratings.

Phil Helps Mentor Students

Phil and ITS colleagues

Phil has also taken great care of the department's large pool of student employees, leading the hiring and training process, and providing mentorship and supervision with consideration and the utmost professionalism. His dedication to UCSC and strong work ethic present a great model for student employees just starting out their careers.
As a colleague, Phil has deep technical expertise, a strong grasp of campus history, and knowledge of ITS service offerings and procedures. Phil has incredible organizational skills and a keen eye for detail, which helped other team members in ITS be more productive and ITS as a division more successful. He participated in an important IT security committee for ITS, and he was often recruited for ad hoc teams due to his high level of competence and collegiality.

In the field, Phil takes the time to explain how technology works to our customers. In the face of an urgent situation, Phil is able to maintain calm. When dealing with a dissatisfied customer, Phil has a talent for diffusing thorny issues, seeking common ground, and seeing the problem from the user's perspective.

Many Talents

Phil playing guitar at an ITS event.

Phil has been involved in all areas of departmental, divisional, campus and statewide support for instruction, researching topics and presenting on innovations at regional conferences. Thanks to his long experience and commitment to his co-workers, Phil has gained a reputation of speaking up on issues that are in the best interest of campus staff. He's also a fantastic musician!

Phil has seen it all over the years. His ability to adapt to technological developments and organizational change while maintaining a balance of pragmatic optimism and kindness make Phil Johnston one of the greats in ITS.