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Long-time employees help department run smoothly

Long-time employees Christine “Chris” Lundby and Bruce Moe in the Department of Chemistry have encountered many interesting people over the years, experienced some strange and unusual events, adapted to change, and made and said goodbye to some good friends.

Chris, assistant to the Department of Chemistry chair, has 40 years of service with the University of Minnesota, all but six months in the Department of Chemistry. Bruce, information technology manager, has worked for the University of Minnesota and in the Department of Chemistry for 33 years.

Chris Lundby
Throughout the years, Chris’ roles have fallen loosely under the category of  “office support,” but, in reality, have encompassed a variety of front-line support. She started out working in the front office with her time spent among graduate recruiting, research stockroom, electronics shop, building maintenance, management of keys, sorting mail and, of course, answering the phone. Gone are the days of typewriters, phones that wouldn’t allow you to re-dial, first-generation computers and software programs, and hand-drawn research graphics.

She chuckles over some of the memorable phone calls from people seeking chemistry solutions to such problems as dissolving twigs that a child put in a gas tank, or fixing bad dye jobs that resulted in orange hair. One of her favorite memories is being able to pet a baby lion that a veterinarian student brought for a visit. “Who gets to do that?” she said.

Chris has worked with a number of administrators, starting with Department Vice Chair Archie Wilson, Department Administrator Stanley Bonnema, Director of Operations Chuck Tomlinson, and now Chair William Tolman. Throughout the years, she has also worked with many professors, including Jan Almlöf, Christopher Douglas, John Ellis, Craig Forsyth, Gary Gray, Paul Gassman, Wayne Gladfelter, John Ellis, Kent Mann, George O’Doherty, and Ilja Siepmann.

She moved to the front office again in 2009, working closely with Tolman, and handling the complicated visa processes for international post-doctoral associates and visitors, industrial recruiting for graduate students and post-doctorate researchers, and faculty honors and awards.

“Chris is an incredibly savvy and dependable coworker,” said Tolman. “She’s a central person in the department because of her extensive knowledge of how the University works and her refreshing ‘can-do’ attitude.” This can-do attitude and commitment to customer service has resulted in Chris receiving three outstanding service awards.

Forty years of service come with many highlights and enjoyments, and interactions with special people. “Working with Paul Gassman was like keeping up with a whirlwind,” she said. “The year that he was president of the American Chemical Society (ACS) was beyond busy. Before he took office as ACS president, a celebration was held in his honor, which was attended by Governor Rudy Perpich who declared it Paul Gassman Day. I accompanied Doc and his wife Gerda to two national meetings. There’s nothing like staying in the penthouses of the Back Bay Westin in Boston and the Washington Hilton. I learned a lot from him. Being in such close proximity with his research group was great, and the friendships with his group members have stood the test of time.”

“With her years of experience comes influence,” said Tomlinson. “Many of the dedicated, helpful staff in our department can point to the example Chris has set for others. I turned to her for help 21 years ago, and still do today.”
Chris has lots of memories and seen many changes. “It has been a great ride,” she said.

Bruce Moe
Bruce Moe started working for the Department of Chemistry in 1981 as a senior electronics technician, was promoted to electro mechanical systems specialist in 1985, and to electronics shop manager in 1992. His title was later changed to information technology manager. His responsibilities include supervising three employees, including Mike Casey, end user support, Dan MacEwan, academic technologist, and Eric Schulz, systems/database design/administrator and webmaster.

One of Bruce’s important responsibilities has been to design and make changes to the software used to track internal sales in the department. In addition, he repairs, designs and builds electronic instruments that are used throughout the department. He consults with faculty, staff and students about their computer and electronic issues and how to resolve them. He helps with the direct purchasing of computers, projectors and printers, and instruments used in chemistry courses. In addition, he serves and provides much-needed leadership and advice to the department’s Web Committee. Because of his commitment to service, Bruce is also an outstanding customer service award recipient.

“The breadth of Bruce’s skills and responsibilities over his career is impressive, and I value his honest advice on ever-changing technology matters,” said Tomlinson. “I also enjoy watching him work with university electricians, plumbers and telecommunications staff because there isn’t an inch of our buildings that he doesn’t know.”

Technology is constantly changing and evolving. When Bruce started working for the department in 1981, there were only a few computers (VAX 11/780 and 2 Cromemco machines). He built several Heath Kit H89 machines over the next couple of years, replacing typewriters with word processors. Today, there are more than 900 computers in the chemistry department.

He also had to fix many chart recorders, as restringing the pen mechanism was a common problem. Now only a few of these devices are still in use. “I do not miss working on those devices,” said Bruce.

“Bruce’s insights and wide skill set have been invaluable for the running of the department,” said Tolman. “He has always provided superb leadership and calm advice as we continually try to keep up with technological advances in communications, computations, and instrumentation.”  

Bruce enjoys working in the Department of Chemistry: “I have always had an interest in science,” he said. “I like to know how things work. The work I do here changes every day, so I am never working on the same problem very long. This variety has made my job very enjoyable. Working with people from all over the world and sharing experiences has also been a real treat.”

Christine "Chris" Lundby and Bruce Moe