By Sarah Nicell || Editor-in-Chief
“My whole life I’ve wanted to help people use technology,” said Terry, sipping dining hall coffee with a smile on his face, the brightest I’ve seen at Franklin & Marshall College in a long time.
Terry Davidson began working at F&M ten years ago and has resided in Lancaster since 1995. Terry initially operated as the Director of Desktop Integration & Support and continued his career at the College as the Training and Communications Manager until earlier this month. Most known to students for his weekly emails titled Terry’s Tuesday Tech Tip (#TTTechTip), Terry reached out to the student body and provided advice on topics such as printing, keyboard shortcuts, wrist exercises for cramped typing muscles, internet safety, catfish scammers, and so much more. Because students never quite got to know the uplifting person behind the screen, I found myself determined to interview him.
Terry’s Tuesday Tech Tips began in response to a suggestion from Carrie Rampp, F&M’s Vice President and Chief Information Officer, asking him to put together a weekly article on how to use technology. Though the day of the week was not specified, Terry chose Tuesday for its alliteration, a choice students seemed to appreciate. The weekly tips started in the Fall of 2017 and were originally sent to just the FPS mailing list, but it expanded to include postings to the student mailing list, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
“My tips would never tell you what not to do, but what to do.” Writing them in this way kept them short and easy to remember, Terry explained.
Terry described himself as always having a positive attitude, and I can attest to this fact, as pure joy radiates off of him. Aside from educating students about the notorious printing application, Papercut, Terry crochets afghans and incredibly intricate doilies, loves any kind of puzzle, bakes really good pies (his license plate even reads PIE GUY; his family’s favorite is strawberry-rhubarb), and enjoys taking pictures of Lancaster City and our campus. Amidst our conversation about his hobbies, Terry explained to me that people should never be afraid to try new things because making mistakes is how we learn best. I couldn’t agree more.
“I am going to miss working with such wonderful customers,” Terry added. “Whether it’s students, employees, parents, or retirees, everyone is always so appreciative and kind to work with. This beautiful campus is also something that I will really miss. Even though I’ve been here ten years and walk across campus all the time, I really never knew if students knew that I was the person behind the weekly tips.”
My primary takeaway from this conversation was Terry’s commitment to encouraging people to be who they are. Despite initially entering the interview thinking we would stay on the topic of tech tips, Terry took us deeper—in the best way. “We are all special because we all have something unique to do on this earth,” Terry said. “Everybody should be themselves. Everybody should be who they are meant to be.”
As Terry moves on from F&M, he “really hopes students don’t shy away from new things.” Just as Tech Tips brought something fun to campus, Terry’s legacy at the College should be to inspire people to explore themselves. Over the years, I have witnessed student excitement in response to the familiar email subject lines every week, and now, the grief of Terry’s departure. Whether Terry taught you how to use the printing system, send a countdown email, analyze whether to really accept cookies, or figure out Google Calendar, Terry’s Tuesday Tech Tips have helped move your life forward, and now it is time to keep going in your own exciting way.
As of February 3rd, Terry now works remotely as the Director of IT Service Management for the University of Arkansas System, where he has the opportunity to spread his tech tips to more than 80,000 students and employees. Before hugging goodbye, I asked Terry if he had one final tip to share. His response: “Don’t be afraid of hitting that button. See what it does.”
Sarah Nicell is a junior and the Editor-in-Chief of The College Reporter. Their email is firstname.lastname@example.org