Young people today couldn’t imagine a time when the internet and email didn’t exist. Teraesa Ashworth can. As School Academic Officer, Teaching and Learning in the School of Software, her days today stand in stark contrast to her first UTS job in 1991 as the university cashier.
“We now have Concur as our expense management software, but back then everyone had to pay cash and be reimbursed,” Teraesa explains. “The entire uni would come to me with their receipts and their petty cash dockets in hand.”
With a $10,000 float, which would sometimes last only a couple of days, Teraesa travelled between the campuses of Kuring-Gai, Gore Hill and Balmain School of Design.
While the manual days were fun, Teraesa says she wouldn't want go back to her second job at UTS. That role was in Enrolments and Fees. “It was like a circus!” she exclaims.
“There were no online enrolments and everything was manual. Every single student had to enrol in person – that's continuing students, not to mention all the new offers being made.
“New students would pay their service fees at the level 4 on-campus bank, then go to the Great Hall. Stations were set up to complete the rest of their enrolment, get academic advice and collect their ID and concession cards, all at the one time. It took months of prep, thousands of paper forms and fee statements and armies of people sorting and storing the paperwork in boxes.
“The queues of people had to stay inside the Tower so imagine them going upstairs and snaking around floors. I'll never forget it!”
But, by 1995, technology changed everything. “I was working in UTS International at the time in an admin role and email had only just come in. The internet came about in the mid-90s. I remember a colleague saying, 'There's this new thing called the World Wide Web. Just think of something, type it in and you'll get all this info!'”
Teraesa did and her love affair with software grew. In 2002, she made the move to the IT faculty, project-managing their move into building 10 and becoming the key custodian for the entire building.
“As the Faculty Administrative Assistant I assisted with operations and HR responsibilities. I also had the master key and managed all the office and research lab space allocations for the faculty.”
In 2008, the faculty merged with engineering and the School of Software was established. Twelve years later, Teraesa says she’s now exactly where she should be.
“I landed the job I pretty much always wanted to do: supporting academics in teaching and learning activities. Timetabling, exams, exclusions, misconduct, all that kind of stuff. I'm loving it.”
But she does remain fond of ‘the good old days’, when Grace Bros (now Broadway Shopping Centre) was up the road and The Loft was the only decent place to go for a feed.
“They served home-cooked meals,” Teraesa recalls. “I had many lunch breaks with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence – various gay men who dressed up as nuns and did a radio show at 2SER. They were just hilarious! As a lively staff-only space it was a great way to meet people from all different areas of the uni.
“It's the vibe and culture of UTS that keeps me here,” she adds. “Anyone's welcome and that's what I love – the equity and the diversity. I don’t think you'd get that in many places. And the people I deal with every day blows my mind, particularly the research.”