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Ouachita Stories


From the "Ouachitonian": Bill Phelps

Bill PhelpsAugust 09, 2021 - Gracen Goudy

Previously published in the 2020 Ouachitonian yearbook

Coming to Ouachita as a student many years ago, Bill Phelps never could have imagined being at Ouachita for 36 years. Studying history and planning to attend law school, programming and IT were far from Phelps’ radar at the time. The trajectory of his future changed forever whenever he became willing to try something new.

“I got married senior year and was looking for a job,” Phelps said. “I found an advertisement at a local bank for a computer night operator, so I went and told them I had never seen a computer before but I needed a job and was willing to learn. They taught me how to operate the computer at night, and I was kind of interested in it and started learning to program.”

After graduation, Phelps continued to work for the bank as an operator and programmer. He also had the opportunity to travel across the country and install software. When the job opened up at Ouachita, he got connected back to his alma mater and became the full time programmer.

“It is a lot of crisis management and solving various issues that pop up across campus,” Phelps said. “I try to figure out solutions to the problem and how to make things happen.”

As the assistant to the President for IT Services and Facilities Management, Phelps role includes more administration than programming. Phelps played a major role in Ouachita’s new printing system across campus.

“We looked at the Student Satisfaction Survey that goes out every year,” Phelps said, “Last year we were having very serious wifi issues; I heard that and we began working on it. That was predominantly what the students said, but the second predominant thing that the students said was that they wanted printing available in the dorms.”

Through a software called Papercut, students now have access to printing inside their dorms. There are 20 different locations of these copiers including one in the Student Center.

“This summer we had a lot of changes figuring out how to get them to work, but it all came together at the last minute,” Phelps said. “We have not had any major problems, in fact we have had few even minor problems.”

Phelps experienced some major changes throughout his time at Ouachita, but it seems as if the friendliness and quality of people have remained the same.

“I have seen a lot of faculty and staff members come and go over the years,” Phelps said. “Ouachita has some of the finest people I have ever known in my life. The people in IT are some of the best friends as well as co-workers. We are a pretty cohesive team, so I enjoy coming to work every day.”

Phelps’ decision to learn something new not only led him back to Ouachita, but led him to have an impact on Ouachita.

Photo by Hannah Smith

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