Retiring ITS employee reflects on decades of Brock service

When Patricia McDonnell (BSc ’85) started working at Brock 35 years ago, the University’s project to move student course registration from in-person to telephone was just being developed.  

The process went online years later, and what used to take students hours of waiting in long registration lines in the gymnasium and via telephone queues, now takes mere minutes with the click of a keyboard and mouse. 

Years of smooth and successful course registration can be credited in part to McDonnell and her team in Brock Information Technology Services (ITS), who helped build and continues to enhance and maintain the University’s online administrative system BrockDB and its integration with other systems, such as the University’s finance and human resources system Workday, its scheduling software and Brock’s learning management system Brightspace. 

With her retirement date approaching, McDonnell is looking back at her decades of service as a programmer, analyst and current IT Manager, Enterprise Solutions, and the positive impact she and her Student Systems team have made on the University community.  

McDonnell was hired in 1988 as a Programmer/Analyst with the Computing and Communication Services   department, now called ITS, to build and support the University’s administration system. 

“BrockDB is a tool that is vital to the University for mostly student information, but so much more,” she says. “Many users of our system have returned from conferences thanking us and exclaiming how far ahead BrockDB is in comparison to the systems of their colleagues from other universities.”  

Over the years, McDonnell and her team have closely supported the technical side of student course registrations, often being on call in the early hours of the morning when online course registration opened. 

She is proud of her “small, but mighty team” in providing and supporting a system that assists faculty, staff and students administratively.  

“Hopefully, it makes their lives a little easier,” she says. “I’m happy knowing that what we do matters.”  

McDonnell has enjoyed making friends with her colleagues and the energy of working in a campus environment, especially in September and June at the beginning and culmination of students’ academic journeys. 

She is grateful for the work-life balance she achieved while working at Brock, having participated in the voluntary reduction program when her children were young so she could spend more time with them. 

While most people look forward to seeing their spouse more often in their retirement, McDonnell may see her husband Gary a bit less — at least for the next few years until he also retires from Brock’s Electronics Shop.       

“With Gary’s shop being in the same building — only 47 steps away — it allowed us to have lunch together often,” says McDonnell. “Now with me being home and he being at Brock, I’ll have to occasionally come to campus to have lunch with him. Besides, it will give me a good excuse to check in on my ITS colleagues and friends at Brock.” 

McDonnell’s last day at the University is Tuesday, Feb. 28.

Patricia McDonnell stands in front of a long rectangular table filled with food. A sign on the wall behind her reads “Happy Retirement!”

The Brock ITS team hosted a party for retiring employee Patricia McDonnell on Friday, Feb. 24.

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