By Sara Hoover
The best-known doctor from Philadelphia is probably basketball legend Julius “Dr.
J” Erving. But U of M local tech support provider La-Vaire Lockhart is giving him
a run for his money.
The Philadelphia native, easily identified on campus by his white lab coat, has the
nickname “Doc” for having the medicine to fix any computer problem, which was one
of the reasons why he was recognized with a Distinguished Employee of the Year award
Lockhart (second from left) with his family after he was chosen as a Distinguished
Employee of the Year during a ceremony in June. (photo by Susan Prater)
Responsible for providing IT support within Residence and Dining Services, a division
of the Office of Student Affairs, Lockhart oversees ResNet, the residential network
for all students who live on campus.
“In five years, I have seen support for students grow 300 percent. Back then, 500
students had computers. Now, 2,400 have computers. We take care of their virus problems,
software issues, reinstall. I’ll be the liaison between them and the manufacturer
because sometimes manufacturers don’t treat them right. I try my best to get their
computers working because I know they don’t need any more stress.”
Lockhart has been at the U of M since 2005, after retiring from a 21-year-stint in
the Navy, and considers it his dream job.
“My dream job is what I call it because I get to do a little of everything. I was
an IT professional in the military. I did programming, database, computer repair.
Instead of just doing one position here, I get to do everything.”
The camaraderie within his department has kept him content.
“Working here is like working with a family. We all get along, eat lunch together.
We just work very, very well together. I don’t want to go anywhere.”
His coworkers have nothing but praise for his work ethic.
“He has taken over the responsibilities for all of our security projects, from camera
installation and monitoring to keeping our servers running smoothly,” said Ann Marie
Hall, local tech support provider II. “He also works directly with our students daily,
going above and beyond duty to keep our residents on the Internet and make sure they
know how to keep their computers safe. He is always there to help out staff and students
alike and I don’t think ‘that can’t be done’ is even in his vocabulary.”
Although Lockhart is not a U of M alumnus yet, he is working toward a bachelor’s in
“I decided to work on something that I enjoy from my heart. We just need to have more
history teachers teaching the history of the world and the United States. I want to
be part of that.”
Lockhart plans to continue until he has his doctorate, taking 10 hours each semester.
He eventually hopes to teach at night, while maintaining his current position.
He was caught off guard by the nomination and subsequent win.
“I just sat (at the ceremony) and said, ‘Nobody’s going to choose me. I’m just a computer
guy over in this area.’ I did not have any idea. When they said my name, I said, ‘Did
they say my name?’ I was holding my tears back. It meant a lot to me to be recognized.
I was telling my supervisor, ‘I’m going to continue to give 200 percent’ because that’s
just the way I am. I don’t do 180 percent. I do 200 percent.”
Winning wasn’t the only surprise at the recognition ceremony. Lockhart’s wife and
children attended unbeknownst to him.
Although the award came with a monetary aspect of $500, Lockhart doesn’t know the
“Once the ceremony was over, I took the envelope and handed it straight to my wife
and didn’t even open it. I just said, ‘Go get what you like.’”