Walker Wheeler’s educational and professional journeys intertwine at UA

Walker Wheeler’s more than 15 years at the University of Alaska has been a long and varied career and educational journey. He has been working in university IT since he came to the University of Alaska Fairbanks to study computer science. 

Currently, you can find Wheeler in the OIT Systems Engineering group, continuing to support university initiatives and systems.

“I really love that my contributions can make a great impact to all UA constituents, especially students,” said Wheeler. “I enjoy working with the exceptionally talented people that make up all of the university, inside and out, while delivering high quality reliable systems. I also appreciate the opportunity to continue to learn and stay current in my field.”

Wheeler started with UAF’s Division of Computing and Communication in 1996, where he was hired as a help desk attendant. He stayed on as a student employee until he was hired as a full-time staff member in January 2001. That year, he finished his bachelor’s in computer science. 

The following year he left his job to reconnect with family in Texas, where he worked as a ranch hand, clearing brush, driving cattle and moving hay. 

After a year, Wheeler wanted to continue his professional career. He returned to UAF and landed the same position he had left. After coming back in 2003, he was identified as a facilitator of the merged IT project that would define UA’s Office of Information Technology as we know it today. 

Wheeler’s passion for learning resurfaced in fall 2004 when he started on a master’s degree in computer science with a single course. In 2005, he began working with students directly, becoming an adjunct faculty member for the CIOS/CITS program, teaching an introduction to Linux course for what was then the Downtown Center for Tanana Valley Campus, while continuing to pursue his degree. He went on to teach introduction to Linux and a course for the Computer Science Department for 17 semesters.

In July 2008, Wheeler tried his hand at management which he really enjoyed while running UAF Rasmuson Library’s IT department. Within a year of starting he went from co-managing the department to having all IT employees reporting to him. His demonstrated management and leadership capability resulted in the Photo Lab also being placed under his purview. During his first year at the library, Wheeler also stepped up to represent Staff Council Unit 13. During his four years, he served as chair of the Elections, Membership and Rules committee and was part of the Executive Board. 

Wheeler earned his master’s degree in computer science from UAF in December 2009. He was able to use what he learned to document and establish some disaster recovery plans for the Rasmuson Library’s most valued system. 

His educational journey didn’t end there. After a discussion with a coworker, Wheeler thought it would be fun to get an MBA. In the spring of 2013, he started on his prerequisites for non-business majors and was able to complete his degree in the spring of 2015. He was also the inaugural recipient of the Fred Smits Business Scholarship.

Wheeler found himself wanting to work on technical problems again, and made his way back to OIT Core Applications helping support Blackboard Learn and Google Mail. He started back in April 2013, and helped contribute to faster workflow for faculty who wanted a unified course by building the Course Stacker, replacing the manual process for both faculty and support staff. Based on his dedication and ability, he was then promoted to Lead of Web Services in February 2015. Now, Wheeler is part of the OIT Systems Engineering group, continuing to support university initiatives and systems.

He is married to Jenifer Wheeler and they share four wonderful children.