Tony Fitzgerald   2009 Distinguished Service Award Recipient

Tony Fitzgerald has provided valuable service for over thirty years to all UNB computing clients, including students, faculty, staff, researchers and external customers. He has been called careful, unconventional, innovative and focused on the real needs of the end user.  His work at UNB has truly reflected these attributes.

The School of Computer Science was the first to benefit from Tony’s computing skills in September 1973, when he was hired as a lecturer. He continued teaching until May 1974 when he joined the Computing Centre (now Integrated Technology Services) as a Programmer Analyst.

Over the years Tony has been involved in a large number of technical advances at UNB in various job roles.  Tony started at the computing centre performing operations and maintenance on the mainframe.  He was responsible for customization and maintenance of the JES2 job scheduling and DASD file storage systems.  He even built a system to track computing resource usage by external customers, such as NB Power.  This translated into significant dollar amounts that were billed to these external companies to pay for UNB’s mainframe maintenance and upgrades, at a time when only hundreds of computers existed in the world.  Most people can't appreciate how much knowledge and hard work was needed to make things work and evolve on these systems.  There were so few people who knew what folks like Tony were doing that everyone was essentially learning on their own without resources to reference.  Tony's work and knowledge positioned UNB to not only keep up with the advances of of early computing, but to lead those advances in many cases.

As the nature of computing environments changed over the years Tony was always ahead of the curve, learning new operating systems, skills and programming languages and is known  especially for his behind-the-scenes work to make computing transitions transparent to the UNB community.   He wrote the print drivers for the first laser printer on campus at a time when drivers didn't accompany the printer.  In those days everything was done at the operating system and command line level. There were no wizards or GUIs and programmers had to build their own tools. This enabled a huge leap forward from using the old impact printers.

He  created and built the Fredericton Area Network (FAN).  This provided free Internet connection to the community at large, at a time before Internet Service providers had developed the services that we all pay for today.  This system is still operational today. Tony learned all about the Unix operating system and quickly became an expert.  Known to many as 'Mr. Unix', Tony was instrumental in transitioning UNB's systems from the mainframe to a distributed computing environment.  In 1996 UNB deployed the Datatel system, which originally ran on AIX. Tony quickly stepped up to become the AIX expert and Unix Administrator for the Datatel system.  He remains a strong defender of the OS and a stalwart in the UNB Unix community. Anyone who has seen his car's license plate, which proudly spells LINUX, can attest to this.  Many of the systems running at UNB today continue to rely on this expertise.

Tony can always be counted on to provide a thoughtful prospective founded in an understanding of the principles involved.  In the early days of punch cards, Tony was known for taking in trays of cards for his work when others had just a handful.  He's also    famous for his cryptic Perl code, condensing what other programmers would develop in one-hundred lines of code into five lines. 

Tony’s work at the University of New Brunswick has benefited everyone involved, from his fellow workers to the students and the community at large.  Being both thorough and thoughtful, he has a habit of care and competence in all the work he does.  And without him, things at UNB would not have been quite the same.

Lori MacMullen

Former Associate VCice-President Integrated Technology Services

as read by Lori Murray-Hawkins
Integrated Technology Services