Not long after graduating from Temple, Timothy O’Rourke got a job as a manager in the Johnson & Hardwick cafeteria.
As a student living in Johnson Hall in the early 1970s, he worked in the cafeteria after he was appointed to do so at a floor meeting he missed.
Recently, in the twilight of his tenure as the university’s chief information officer and vice president for Computer Services, he ran into a co-worker who still worked there.
“She remembered me after all these years,” he said.
O’Rourke, whose time is up after he enrolled in an early-retirement plan years ago, will continue to serve as a special assistant to Provost Hai-Lung Dai and will be on Main Campus a few days a week, he said.
“It’d be really hard to leave Temple since I’ve been here so long,” O’Rourke said.
Under O’Rourke, Temple built the TECH Center, installed Wi-Fi on campus and simplified university computer systems. When he took over, different administrative functions used different systems, and several were around 20 years old. The youngest system, used for payroll, was 16 years old.
Eventually he took on the project to install Self-Service Banner and TUPortal in order to consolidate the administrative computer systems at a cost of $38 million over five years. Those are still used today.
He also led the shift to a uniform email system, since 11 were previously used among different departments, he said. The university now runs on Gmail.
And Wi-Fi, which was not installed on Main Campus until 2002, was something the school needed in preparation for the current state of affairs, he said.
“Every student is using mobile technology now,” O’Rourke said. “How’s that for a change?”
Marion Hansberry, director of operations for Computer Services, has known O’Rourke since he hired her while serving as Controller.
“I kind of grew up with him,” Hansberry said. “He’s taught me a lot. I learned finance from him. … I learned leadership skills.”
They worked together for 31 years, as she followed him to the Computer Services office.
“He’s a big presence, so it’s like he’s just taking a few days off,” Hansberry said.
She believes the university’s technology has come a long way since the early days.
“It’s sometimes not appreciated because that happens behind the scenes,” she said. “Nowadays, kids will expect that. But you have to do the work to get there.”
O’Rourke’s wife lived in Hardwick Hall, and they have three children who all graduated from Temple. He said he has had some input in appointing his successor. Currently, Barbara Dolhansky is serving in an interim role and O’Rourke recommended her for the job.
“I’ve kind of run out of ideas,” O’Rourke said. “I think technology moves too fast for one person to keep up with it for such a long period of time.”
Joe Brandt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JBrandt_TU.