The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Robert Emery

 Robert Emery
Photo by John Schreiber, The Daily Campus
Robert Emery

Robert Emery (Photo by John Schreiber, The Daily Campus)

Robert Emery sits in his office in Umphrey Lee with cables, monitors and speakers on one side of him and manuals, light bulbs and computers on the other. He quietly labels a stack of DVDs that store archived editions of the Daily Update, a morning news show produced by SMU journalism students.

It is 1 p.m., and Emery, senior media equipment technician for the Division of Journalism, has been on the clock since 5:30 a.m.

To many the job might sound stressful, but Emery doesn’t think of it that way.

“I like being helpful to people,” he says. “I like helping these students because it helps me feel better about myself.”

His day of helping usually ends at 2:30 p.m. but some days last longer if there are loose ends to tie up. And usually there are plenty of those, since Emery wears many hats for the department. They include running audio for the Daily Update, making trips to a repair shop for things he can’t fix himself, and updating the software on the department computers.

One of Emery’s main tasks is making sure SMU-TV is functioning for the students. He also shops for new equipment and determines what needs to be fixed or replaced.

Emery is no stranger to electronics. He received his first computer for Christmas in 1982 while growing up in Southern California. He taught himself how to program it, a skill he called a “great stepping stone.” Understanding how things work gives him a good foundation for solving problems, he said.

Emery’s co-workers appreciate that problem solving. Lisa Goodman, the Journalism Division’s administrative assistant, has seen him use it since 1991, when the two worked together at a video broadcast company. Goodson said that when Emery’s current position at SMU became available, she knew he was the right man for the job.

“He knows what he’s doing,” Goodson says. “He doesn’t procrastinate. He is extremely reliable.”

Emery said he enjoys his job and plans to continue working for SMU. He says the stability of the job has helped him achieve personal goals such as getting his own place and saving money for a better life.

Emery, 39, said he didn’t have that kind of continuity in his childhood. He was born in Pittsburgh, Penn., but spent much of his youth in California. He also spent some time in El Paso, Texas, before moving to Germany when his mother married a man in the military.

His family moved to Texas to stay in 1979 when his stepfather was transferred to Fort Bliss.

Emery, who attended DeVry University in 1986, said became disenchanted after seeing people graduate with degrees he didn’t think they deserved. Emery believes society sometimes puts more emphasis on a piece of paper than the actual skills people have.

Michelle Houston, newsroom manager and lecturer for the Journalism department, said Emery’s skills, not his schooling, got him the job. She says a good technician with great people skills is hard to find.

“He is a total pleasure to work with, and incredible with the kids,” Houston said.

Being a good technician and working with young people is enough, said Emery. He said he doesn’t want to be the next Donald Trump; he’ll settle for a good life in Dallas with his dog Max.

“I’m happy having a comfortable living, having a comfortable place to live,” he said, “me and my dog.”

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