Wes Summers, Student Affairs Digital Engagement Lead
Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs - Student Affairs Digital Engagement Lead
Learner - Achiever - Intellection - Analytical - Relator
Wes was nominated by a colleage for a Staff Spotlight; here's what his nominator had to share:
Having produced websites that served as a benchmark for campus for nearly 15 years, Wes Summers, Student Affairs digital engagement lead, was asked to lead the division’s new digital engagement initiative… and then Covid-19 hit. Perfectly illustrating his can-do attitude, Wes has simultaneously grown digital engagement opportunities for students and nimbly provided exceptional web and digital support for the division and the university in response to the pandemic. Not only is Wes known for his attractive web designs and innovative solutions, but he is also a wonderful colleague with whom everyone enjoys collaborating. Student Affairs is very proud of Wes and loves that he is a part of our team.
Are you from Georgia? If not, where are you from? (i.e., where do you call “home”?)
I am from Georgia. I grew up in Gwinnett County, but I’ve lived in the Athens area off and on for the 20+ years.
How long have you worked at UGA?
I started at UGA in 2007, so around 14 years.
What does a “day in the life” look like for you at work?
I usually start out the day by checking websites and emails to make sure nothing is on fire and checking in with my intern and web developer to make sure we’re on the same page about what tasks our team is focusing on and they have what they need from me to get their work done. Typically, I have a mix of meetings and project work that I do throughout the day. I usually knock out smaller scale, short term tasks before lunch to get them off the queue quickly. Then, I transition to working on longer term projects in the afternoon. Most likely someone will contact me with a troubleshooting issue or task that needs my attention at some point during the day, so I do my best to prioritize those requests so that I’m not holding up my colleague’s work. I generally force myself to get out of my office and take a lunch hour, otherwise I’d tend to eat at my desk and work at the same time, which could lead to burn out. I usually have at least one or two meetings on a typical day in between working on projects and tasks as well. I find that too much routine becomes tedious, and a little variety keeps things fresh, so I don’t always stick to that formula.
What are three things you love most about your job?
The variety of the work, that my team produces tangible solutions that directly help to execute our division’s mission, and the excellent people I work with!
Who do you look up to/ admire?
I tend to admire most the people who had or have that unique combination of both brilliance and determination that allowed them to achieve world changing accomplishments despite the socio-political obstacles they faced or face during their lifetimes. To name a few:
What are things that you do for fun/hobbies?
Most of my free time these days is spent playing with my three daughters, but I also like to fish, hike, mountain bike, and garden when I get the chance.
What might be something that you would like other staff to know about your job?
One thing that I think most of my colleagues already understand is that the only way my small team can manage the number of websites and applications that we do is because we build everything to be easily managed by the individual departments across the division. Without that collaboration and partnership with our departments, we’d never be able to keep so many sites and applications up to date and running smoothly. In that sense, our colleagues across the division who work in our systems and manage the content on their respective sites are key to our success. It’s truly a division-wide team effort!
What might be some ways that staff could collaborate or partner with you?
As the Digital Engagement Lead for Student Affairs, I’m responsible for strategizing on new ways to use technology to increase student engagement in our programs and services. A great way to collaborate with me is to let me know if your area is using some new or existing technology to deliver your programs or services in a new and better way for students. It may be something that we could adopt and scale throughout our division.
Anything you would like to share that you would like other staff to know about you?
What advice would you have for new staff joining UGA Student Affairs?
Make as many connections as you can across both the Division and UGA. That could lead you to more opportunities down the road.
What is one question you wished we asked and what is the answer?
What is the coolest thing you have ever done and why?
One of the coolest things I’ve ever done was to hike the Narrows in Zion National Park. The Narrows a 16-mile day hike through a slot canyon along the Virgin River. The trail is the river, and sections of it become narrow enough that you can reach out and touch both walls of the canyon at once, which rise straight up over 2,400 feet above you. We hiked it in a high-water year, so we swam almost more of it than we walked, which made it extremely strenuous but totally worth it.