Duane Rigsby: Problem Solved

(Editor’s Note: The following is the latest in a series of feature stories highlighting The Ohio State University South Centers Staff)
By Bradford Sherman
CFAES/OSU South Centers

If your computer won’t start, or the running water won’t stop; if the temperature is too hot, or too cold; or if the phones are down, or anything else is up … there is one man who everyone calls first.

His name is Duane Rigsby. His official title is Systems Developer/Engineer, and he most famously wears the hat of a technology coordinator at The Ohio State University South Centers, but he is anything but your typical IT guy. 

“Not many IT people wear work boots,” he said jokingly, as he motioned his hand down toward his rugged footwear.

You will be hard-pressed to find him just sitting around in front of a monitor, the natural habitat for many of his contemporaries. Instead, he is usually out-and-about the South Centers campus doing what he does best – solving problems. In fact, it’s the variety of tasks he performs here that he says is his favorite part of the job.

“When you walk in each day, you never know what you are going to actually be doing,” Rigsby explained. “You could be mopping up a water spill from where a water pipe busted overnight, or you could come in with no power, or you can come in with a computer that won’t start up, or you could come in and one of our business partners in the Endeavor Center maybe has an issue.”

Rigsby, who interestingly always wanted to be a forest ranger, earned a degree in natural resources from Hocking College. He worked in a lumber yard and for a construction company before joining South Centers as one of its original employees in 1991.

Now in his 28th year here, he has held several titles over that span. He began as a Research Assistant, and then around the turn of the millennium, moved over to the role similar to the one performs today, Systems Manager.
“When we first started, we all did everything as a team versus as individuals,’ he explained.

“As for the IT, our first director noticed that I was interested in it, I would be looking over his shoulder at lunch time, and one day he said, ‘you seem to be interested in computers.’”

And with those words, he was set on a path toward managing the phones, as well as one IBM computer and five black and white computers running NeXT software (which for our younger readership was a project headed up by Apple founder Steve Jobs during his exile from the company in the mid 80’s, and would eventually morph into today’s MacOS and iOS). Of course, he still worked out in the field during this time as well.

“I would be out in the field, and Marsha would have a problem, so she called me – of course, we didn’t have cell phones back then. We carried two-way radios. I would come in and fix whatever needed fixing, and then I would go back out to the field and resume whatever it was I was working on.”

As the technology needs kept growing, and then during a hiatus of a former maintenance coordinator, Rigsby’s role transformed to the one we know him in today.

“During that time frame, someone had to fill the void. There was still things breaking, and things that need to get done. So I stepped up and took care of all of that.” Soon thereafter, Rigsby was given the permanent gig.

“Tom (Worley) was our director by then and said, ‘well, you are already doing half of it, you may as well do the other half,’” Rigsby recalled.

Now today, in addition to overseeing all of the technology needs of South Centers, Rigsby serves as the facilities manager, which encompasses pretty much everything else he does – maintenance and upkeep of HVAC systems, water lines, building repairs, phone system, and more.

That is a resume that covers pretty much any problems that could arise at South Centers. So if you ever encounter a problem here, there is a simple solution … just call Duane.

Rigsby and his wife, Linda, reside in Scioto County with their daughter Katie. He also has a step-daughter and a granddaughter.