Southern’s Unsung Hero: Brian Russer, “Mac guru”
Monica Zielinski – Managing Editor
During the 1984 Super Bowl, Apple aired its first commercial announcing the release date for the Macintosh. The 60 second ad sparked Brian Russer’s interest and his knack for technology led to a lifetime career.
The SCSU Information Technology employee, “just shy of 55,” has worked at Southern for 26 years and although he’s a wiz at both PCs and Macs, he’s favored Apple ever since watching that memorable TV commercial 31 years ago.
“It’s kind of one of those classic ads where it’s this Orwellian society and it’s very monolithic in its nature. IBM was big at the time and well, here comes Mac and it basically breaks down all the barriers. I just thought it was the coolest thing and then I had the opportunity to get some technical training on it,” said Russer.
Originally from Ansonia, Russer graduated from Quinnipiac and has certifications from software vendors Apple, IBM, Compaq, and NEC Epson.
Before being hired at Southern, Russer worked in retail and small electronics companies. He has worked with technology for 33 years.
Bonnie Bryers, who also works in the IT Support Services Department, said she gives Russer work orders and if someone needs help with a Mac, she sends them to him.
“He’s like our Mac guru. If you have questions about Macintoshes, he’s usually the guy to go to because he’s going to know and he’s very willing to help and just gets people’s problems fixed—it’s what Brian does,” said Bryers.
Russer said his job at Southern has changed over the years and sometimes he just monitored facilities and installed equipment, other times he worked with faculty or students.
Now, on any given day, Russer said he looks through his email, checks his phone messages, and logs in to the help-desk system that tells him what he’ll have to do that day—what he’s going to install, where he needs to go, who he has to talk to. After he said he’ll “just go out and help people.”
When he worked in retail at the beginning of his career, Russer said by the time people came in, they were over the emotional aspect of the computer problem. Technology doesn’t always work as it should, and Russer said he’s closer to the source now and sometimes finds himself in stressful situations.
“More of my position responsibilities deal with faculty and administrators. I still do get those situations that you walk into that are stressful but that’s a large component—sometimes you have to be very sensitive, almost like a counselor would to their patients and to just say, ‘listen, take it in,’” said Russer.
Friday is the anniversary of the terrorist attack that shook the country and Russer said he remembers in the days that followed, a moment where his IT help made a difference.
“It was just after 9/11 and this student, she was pretty distraught. It was a day that affected all of us. And she was just having a tough time and I was fortunately able to take a chunk of time and do what I could to help her out and walk her through and help her—it was probably with a paper or a lost file or something like that, but just to be there and listen,” said Russer.
When he’s not fixing hardware or locating lost files, Russer said he enjoys attending church activities and loves to go camping with his wife in a vacation trailer. He said he likes spending time with his family, including a “furry four legged friend” who’s a rescue dog.
Photo Credit: Monica Zielinski – Managing Editor