How His Fordham Career Began
“I started at Fordham in October 2007. I graduated from Fordham Prep in 1996, so this was my return to campus. I went to NYU for undergrad; got my bachelor’s in political science there, and then worked many jobs, including as a bouncer for three years at an Irish bar.”
His First Job on Campus
“I came to Fordham as a senior systems engineer. I was the guy in the back closet, rebooting the servers and firewalls, never seeing people or the light of day. Great job, great people who I still work with, but after doing that for seven years, I felt like there were natural skillsets I had that weren’t being used. There was an opportunity to move to another IT department where I would be doing technology training and development.”
What He Does Now
“Wherever Fordham or one of our business partners has a new service or product, I’m one of the people who builds the bridge between it and what people currently do. I help design the training, documentation, and communication.”
It’s a Small World
Byer was born in White Plains and grew up in Hartsdale. “When I started working here, I kept looking at my colleague, Richard Eberhardt, in meetings and thinking, ‘Your last name is so familiar, where do I know you from?’ Couldn’t figure it out. Six months later, I go, ‘Oh my goodness, we were in Boy Scouts together.’ I’ve been on camping trips with him, I’ve been in his house, his mom has given me cookies. Now he’s my supervisor”
The Best Part of the Job
“I get to work with people outside of IT way more than I ever did before. A standard day for me is typically a meeting with HR, a meeting with finance or accounts payable, or with the provost. In the last three years, I have built strong relationships with people all over the university.”
The Biggest Challenge
“No one likes change, and I’m typically the person who’s coming in as the change agent. The challenge is trying to figure out what kind of change they do not like. Do you not like the change I’m bringing, the way we’re bringing it, the change I represent or do you not like me? There’s a big sociological, psychological component to my job, in terms of listening to people and understanding where their anxieties lie.”
One Family Supporting Another
Five years ago, Byer and his wife Clarissa had their first child, Isaac. He was born with a congenital condition called giant omphalocele, in which his intestinal organs were in an umbilical sack outside of his torso in utero. Isaac spent the first 14 months of his life in various hospitals, mostly in the New York-Presbyterian intensive care unit.
Byer said his IT colleagues went above and beyond any of his expectations to help them get through an unimaginably stressful time.
“When people talk about Fordham being a family, I can’t think of a better example than the way my department supported me through this really traumatic experience.”
Isaac still faces significant challenges, and recently underwent a nine-hour operation in July that required a 25-day stay at the hospital during the pandemic. Byer said his gross and fine motor skills are very delayed, but cognitively, he’s doing great. The couple had a second child, Austen, who turned 2 in February.
Byer said Isaac’s illness has “brought me and my wife closer together,” and has guided us through some difficult “life and death” conversations. He also said he relies on his belief system to help him through the tough times.
“I’ve been practicing Buddhism since 2003, and that has been incredibly helpful in trying to make some kind of sense and find some kind of balance.”