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IT Service Status

Chris Fowler Named Northwestern IT Employee of the Year

Chris Fowler is the calm that keeps storms at bay. Among his many celebrated attributes is the assurance of success and stability he brings to every aspect of his work. As the applications systems manager for a team supporting Northwestern's alumni and research systems, his work broadly affects every University community member. At the February 2024 Extended Staff Meeting, Chris earned Northwestern IT’s highest individual staff recognition, the Employee Excellence Award, for his dedication to consistently delivering the highest standards possible of both support and leadership.

Sean Reynolds, CIO, congratulates EEA recipient Chris FowlerChris is a clear-headed leader who sees obstacles and roadblocks ahead and clears them to ensure a smooth path forward for clients and team members alike. He has been a member of Northwestern IT for nine years and has gained the trust and admiration of colleagues and business partners across the University. A team of Administrative Systems leaders with whom he has worked closely over his time in the department is responsible for his nomination: Andrew Ludington, director of Enterprise Systems Alumni and Financials; Alan Garbarino, director of Data Management and Analytics; and Moses Phenany, associate director, Application Development and Operations.

He was promoted to manager at the end of FY21 and immediately assumed responsibility for two critical projects. The Sponsored Research “CERES” transformation and the Alumni “CORE” transformation projects were massive undertakings, requiring more than 50,000 person-hours. His nominators described how Chris used his problem-solving expertise to navigate constraints and balance challenges. “When unexpected issues arose, such as a months-long delay from a vendor that jeopardized the CERES program, Chris worked across team lines, negotiating team members’ schedules and priorities and securing constructive backfill resources to ensure the continuation and completion of the work on time,” according to the nominating team.

Nominators also noted Chris’s savvy and adaptable approach to leveraging the full potential of collaboration. His approach to assigning project tasks across teams has a tri-fold benefit: shoring up project success, cultivating new resources internally, and growing individual colleagues' skills and experience. “Chris has expanded the Alumni CORE team to include people who have never worked with Alumni. Using targeted task assignments, embedded roles with subject matter experts, and appropriate training and certification, Chris has provided exciting growth opportunities for IT staff and ensured sufficient internal support and ongoing expertise with the Alumni platform. His approach has set up the team for current and future success.”

Chris’s efforts to create growth and expand opportunities for colleagues extend beyond professional experience. At Northwestern IT, he has led changes and initiatives that improve workplace culture and sense of belonging. He served on the Northwestern IT DEI Committee’s first iteration of the steering committee and was a founding member who contributed to the groundwork for establishing the group and developing its charter. From there, Chris co-founded the Sexuality and Gender Equality (SAGE) affinity group and continues to serve as co-chair.

Forever humble and always a team player, Chris said, “I am deeply honored to receive this recognition from the committee and IT leadership. Throughout my career at Northwestern, I have had the privilege of collaborating with truly exceptional teams and business partners. Together, we have worked tirelessly to identify and implement optimal solutions, making everyone's day a little smoother. The feedback and comments shared have been incredibly motivating, reaffirming that my contributions are valued by those I work closely with.”

The feedback and comments shared have been incredibly motivating, reaffirming that my contributions are valued by those I work closely with.

Chris Fowler
Applications Systems Manager, Enterprise Systems Alumni and Financials
2023 Employee Excellence Award Winner

Kim Griffin, senior director of business systems and operations in Northwestern’s Sponsored Research Office, shared her experience working with Chris that best summarizes the numerous submissions of praise Chris has received from partners across Northwestern. “Chris Fowler was instrumental to the success of the CERES implementation. Constantly looking around corners, recognizing gaps that might fall through the cracks and making sure they were covered, coordinating across the many moving parts within IT, and thinking creatively to solve problems that cropped up—all while remaining calm, professional, and easygoing. Northwestern is so lucky to have Chris and his depth of experience as both a technical resource and now a functional one. He embodies the University's goal of striving for excellence.”

In all that Chris gives in his work, one resounding quality rings true repeatedly. Andrew Ludington put it plainly, “Chris is a role model of integrity. Exceptionally trustworthy, that's Chris. He does the right thing.”