You could be forgiven for thinking Robert Rysiew was a counselor.
Between handling troubled callers, helping people figure out their problems and just generally being there for his colleagues, Rysiew’s job as the network administrator in the School of Social Work may sound similar to a counselor’s.
“There can be some hand-holding,” he said.
“I’m known as the tech guy, so if anyone has a problem they come to me first. Invariably, I get lots of calls and e-mails during the day,” he added. “People come to me with their problems-hardware, software, pretty much anything with electricity.”
Rysiew first came to UGA almost 10 years ago to be with his then fiancée, Minou, while she got her MSW degree. She is now an adjunct professor with the School of Social Work and owner/operator of Clarity Counseling LLC in Oconee County.
“I moved down here to be with her, asked her to marry me. We settled down here-we have a house and a wonderful son, Joshua,” he said.
At the time, a part-time information technology position in Tucker Hall had just opened, and Rysiew applied for it-despite having a degree in psychology from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Now, the Canadian-born Rysiew is a staple in the School of Social Work. He knows nearly everything about the computer system in Tucker Hall. But more than his know-how, what makes him an invaluable part of the school is his attitude, co-workers say.
“He’s just a very pleasant person to work with-he’s very calm, very patient and has a wonderful personality,” said Teresa Payne, the IT director in Tucker. “He does pretty much everything-from troubleshooting to network support, to helping supervise the labs. He’s on the front end for a lot of help-desk calls. If there’s a problem, he can help.”
Rysiew’s love for computers started at age 12, when he saved up his allowance to buy a Commodore 64 computer. Since then, he’s earned A-Plus and Novell administrator certifications and continues to keep up-to-date on the latest tech news.
“Mostly, this is learning as you go and learning on the job. That’s one of the great things about technology-you’re constantly learning. It can be great-it depends on your mind-set on that day,” he said. “You get to know (the system) day after day, and it’s always here to teach you new things.”
When he’s not working, though, Rysiew likes playing ball hockey at the YMCA-(“Being Canadian, I love hockey,” he said)-and takes in as many movies as he can.
He also enjoys playing and watching sports-even American ones-with 9-year-old Joshua.
“When I first came down here, I couldn’t figure it out. I kept thinking, ‘How are people so into college football?’ But now I’m figuring it out-Joshua and I went to our first football game last year. It was great,” Rysiew said.
“He also comes with me to hockey occasionally. It’s hard because the Canucks games are usually on late at night, so he doesn’t see much of that. I think we’re bonding more over football than we are over hockey.”
As for Rysiew, he’s happy in his field and can’t imagine leaving.
“I think I’ll definitely be in the technology field for the rest of my life. It’s something I really love and am excited about it,” he said. “And like I said, there’s no end to the learning curve. You could do this for 100 years and still never know it all.”
School of Social Work
B.S., Psychology, Simon Fraser University, 1997
At UGA: Almost 10 years