Photo from left: Judy Poitras, John Heine, Mark Smith
Project Manager extraordinaire Mark Smith began his career with Yale Printing and Publishing Services (YPPS) over two decades ago. In early fall 1993, he began as a casual with Management Information Systems (MIS)—one of the earlier iterations of YPPS. He was eventually hired to a permanent position and has been part of the YPPS family ever since managing projects from design to printing, binding and mailing.
A New Haven local—Mark attended Wilbur Cross High School and grew up in the East Rock neighborhood of the Elm City hanging out at Modern Pizza and often walking through the Yale campus. He joined YPPS just after graduating from high school while attending Southern Connecticut State University.
Mark started in the mailroom, transitioning to binding and then to digital printing. During those early years, he worked Saturdays and Sundays as well as the second shift from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.
In the late 1990s MIS evolved into RIS when the digital printing era began to explode. “Print quality has changed since the start of the digital era, when we first started it was brutal—consistency did not exist in the industry—it has evolved so that you now get high quality in large volumes,” he says.
Mark remembers long work days up to 15 hours sometimes, but there was a strong sense of camaraderie—“we all used to get together for happy hour after work,” he says.
Like many YPPS Staffers Mark is committed to the University’s overall mission that culminates every year during commencement. He recounted a story about the 2010 Commencement Honorary Degree insert.
There was a last minute change to the Yale Honorary Degree booklet that required some intense manual labor. “On the Sunday before commencement that year, a whole team of us had to be called into the office to manually insert 18,000 newly printed programs that were to include honoree Aretha Franklin in the honorary degree insert. From 2:30 to 7 p.m. we redid the commencement insert—the team was able to pull together and make sure that the program was corrected,” he says noting how great it is to be part of the team that helps make it all happen behind the scenes.
In addition to a slew of reunion booklets, meal tickets and tags, Mark also mentioned that helping create the class of 1954 directory for its 60th reunion was another interesting project he has been able to work on more recently. Interacting with Alumni, engaging them about their time at Yale made it all worthwhile.
Mark has deep ties to the Elm City and Yale—his identical twin brother Matthew was an undergraduate at Yale and served as an Alderman. His sister Trish also works at YPPS, his brother Patrick works in General Accounting and his sister Diane teaches at the Cedarhurst School operated by Yale.
“Yale has been a part of my life growing up, you take it for granted but I live it everyday,” he says. Even during the holidays Yale figured in his memories. “I remember as a kid seeing the brightly lit Christmas tree that used to be placed at the top of Kline Biology Tower,” said Mark.