Get to know your IPF crews: Campus Events Office
October 5, 2020
Note: Many of the photos featured were taken prior to the COVID-19 outbreak
With much of fall instruction being done online and many students, staff and faculty working remotely, the campus is certainly quieter than it has been since its inception.
But behind that tranquil façade there is still a myriad of activity going on, and helping coordinate much of that activity is the IPF Campus Events Office.
Angie Zell, Auxiliary Services Manager, and Jamie Talbert, Event Operations Coordinator, are the “dynamic duo” that make up the IPF Campus Events Office. With support from office assistant Deb North, these superwomen help manage indoor and outdoor events ranging from the MSU Science Festival to the Boy Scouts’ National Order of the Arrow Conference. Handling an average of 1,700 events in a normal year, they ensure that campus outdoor spaces are not double booked and that their customers have what they need to host a successful event.
“We are coordinators, not planners,” Talbert said. “We are concerned with things such as what size generator you need to power your DJ equipment, not so much what songs you are playing.”
And even with the COVID-19 pandemic turning the campus and the world on its head, their office is still busily helping their customers navigate the new normal.
“Since COVID, we have spent a lot of time proactively reaching out to our campus partners who had event requests in prior to the pandemic,” Zell said. “If an event has not been cancelled, we work with our customers, many who have taken on new roles and have no prior experience with event scheduling to educate them on the process and to help them reschedule/modify the request to ensure that it complies with new health and safety guidelines and executive orders.”
She added, “We also serve as council on sub-committees and at various meetings in order to determine how and if activities can return to campus safely.”
The pressure to be able to “turn on a dime” and respond to ever changing scenarios in areas such as athletics, student organizations, instruction, dining, and most recently COVID-19 testing site creation is the fuel they run on.
“It’s really energizing being part of that rush and witnessing all of the small miracles IPF pulls off during these times,” Zell said.
With so many moving parts that must come together in just the right sequence, Zell and Talbert rely heavily on the talents and skills of other IPF crews to get the job done – Set up, Electrical, Custodial Services, Recycling and Landscape Services, to name just a few.
“We’ve built close relationships and love working with our crews – the trust and respect goes both ways,” Talbert said. “When event logistics change unexpectedly due to things like weather or customer needs, we all pull together behind the scenes to find solutions, oftentimes without the customer even seeing our struggle.” She added, “It’s those redemption opportunities that let our customers see just how committed we are to their success and allow us to celebrate our achievements with our crews.”
During a normal athletics season, the office also works in partnership with MSU Athletics during football games to ensure behind-the-scenes operations run smoothly.
“We not only manage the departmental tailgates, I also serve as IPF on-site manager at the Stadium during home games,” Zell said. “I work with various IPF departments to ensure that our trades groups are there to address any facilities issues that may pop up.”
Reflecting on previous events, identifying opportunities for improvement, and focusing on solutions is a large part of their method for success.
“In the end, it’s all about relationships – loving who you work with and who you work for,” Talbert said.