Headshot of Shaun Speers

Five Questions for Shaun Speers ‘07: Technical Services Technician

You are an alumnus at William Woods. Why did you decide to take an employment role on campus? 

I have had a unique experience because I crossed the line between student and staff member. We have the work study program and the campus employment program – I was lucky to be part of the campus employment side of it. I came here to major in Theatre. A couple weeks in, I was wondering who did all the campus events. I had experienced doing that in high school while apprenticing with my high school auditorium director, and thought that it could be a career for me.  I learned from Professor Joe Potter that the Theatre Department handled campus events, thought about it for a couple days and came up with an idea. I suggested to Potter to let me take over all the non-theatrical stuff, like when someone wants a LEAD event or has a big speaker coming to campus. He was a little surprised, but thought about it and decided it was worth a try. From there, for the next four years, I straddled that student/staff line. I balanced 12 to 15 hours plus, whichwas hard at times. At the same time, I was learning how to balance a real part time job, and it was not an ordinary position to take on. While challenging at times, it proved to be very valuable. I was always a busy student while here.

What skills have you applied from your William Woods education to your current position?

I took courses in lighting and stage management. All of those are essential in running other events as well as Theatre. Lately, I have been doing preventative maintenance on lighting equipment using the skills I learned in lighting class. It all ties together. With a degree in Theatre, you do not have to be in showbiz your entire life. Every venue has a person like me in charge of the venue. You also have a technical director, stage manager and technicians. It is something you can do with a Theater degree and is not often pursued. It is important in a well-rounded Theatre degree to have experience both on and off stage. William Woods gave me this opportunity. I try to encourage the students and show them how to do things and how to do them on their own. 

Photo of Shaun Speers working on the sound board

What is a typical day for you?

On a typical day, I will get to my office a little before 7. I process any incoming events that may be in our system. I might have to take action on those. I either email clients to get more information or put the events on the calendar. I look ahead to what is on the calendar today and the number of setups that need to be done with the times, event lengths and locations. If it is an auditorium event, I need to look at if we have enough batteries and to ensure the correct equipment is at the venue. We are a small campus and we have to share a lot of resources between venues. I must make sure everything is in line for an event especially if it is a bigger one. I also assist in the interior maintenance when I can with doing various administrative tasks. That is a typical day.  

There is an event system on the campus exclusive website, Owlnet. Could you go into more detail about your role and how to best go about using it for the campus community side?

The events system is located on Owlnet. It can be accessed by going to Quicklaunch. The events and classroom calendars are separated on Owlnet but tie together on the back end so there are no conflicts. It is recommended to check both calendars to ensure availability. On Owlnet, you can view a calendar for each room by day, week, etc. You can filter down to just a room, or multiple rooms with dates and times. This event system launched a year ago, and I heard positive feedback about it. My role is the main event approver. For any event submitted, that is big or small, I have to review it and make sure there is no other conflicts with other events. Sometimes, when people book a space, they just book the space. I must look ahead to what is next. Since I work with maintenance, I make sure that maintenance is aware of any setup notes the client submitted, and the amount of time allotted to set the event up. The same is true with audio and visual equipment that is requested with an event. 

The best advice for event requesting is the earlier the better. As soon as you know that you want to do something, start planning and have the idea of the time, date and facility. It is good to have multiple dates in mind. For example, we just scheduled a hypnotist and the first date they picked was the same night as another campus event, the President’s Concert and Lecture Series. We had to go back and reschedule it to another date. It is good to have a second date especially if it is going to be outdoors. I realize it is not always possible, but it is something good to have. Make sure to give all the information you have, especially if there is a rider. I need to make sure it meets our requirements. We have rarely come across something that we cannot accommodate. 

What is the best part of your job?

On a big event after a long day of setting up and working, I love seeing my soundboard light up. Even though my job is small, and I am a one-man operation, it has a big impact not only on the students, but on the staff. All these wonderful events that we have and the percentage I am a part of is so large that I must sit back sometimes and appreciate just what a big impact it has been.