During its inaugural season back in the mid-1970s, NBC’s Saturday Night Live introduced viewers to “Mr. Bill”—a clay figurine star on Super 8 film. Each episode would start innocently before inevitably turning out chaotic for the main character.
In stark contrast to the SNL character from yesteryear, RIT’s Bill Wadeikis—fondly known as “Mr. Bill” inside the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences—is a calming influence. The self-described technician and problem solver inevitably brings about reassurance and positive outcomes for students, faculty and staff at CIAS.
As the repair technician of photographic equipment at CIAS, Mr. Bill can usually be found inside Gannett Hall’s third- and fourth-floor “Equipment Cages,” areas bustling with activity and stocked full of photographic gear for RIT students in the photography programs.
“In addition to the cages, I also attend to all the darkroom areas and studios,” said Wadeikis, whose diverse responsibilities include troubleshooting issues relating to digital inkjet printers and technical biomedical photography equipment. “I make sure the repairs get done either in-house or through the respective manufacturer’s repair facility.”
That’s no small task for the modest technician, who has experienced firsthand the vast transformation from traditional to digital photography during his 26 years at RIT.
“The photographic world is fast-changing. It can be a challenge to balance the traditional and digital approaches,” the Rochester, N.Y. , native said. “With digital, the feedback is immediate and the student can better fine tune the image they are trying to capture. How great is that!”
One of those students, Amber Estherpeace Doerr, said Wadeikis never hesitates to go above and beyond the call of duty.
“Once he had been planning to go home, but stayed extra late to help me learn how to use some unfamiliar photo equipment at the last minute, when I really needed it for a group portrait,” said the fourth-year advertising photography major from Pittsburgh, Pa. “He saved me a ton of trouble. I probably would have had to cancel the shoot if he hadn’t done that.”
School of Photographic Arts and Sciences (SPAS) faculty said Wadeikis’ contributions to the program are far-reaching.
“When there are equipment problems, Mr. Bill always has a solution,” said Susan Lakin, associate professor and program chair of advertising photography. “But he doesn’t just fix a problem, he turns each situation into a learning experience for students.”
Rachel Jerome Ferraro, a lecturer in SPAS, referred to Wadeikis as the “man behind the curtain, working with a relentless tenacity to keep the cogs turning—all with an approachability and calm demeanor.”
“Mr. Bill is an unsung hero of our program,” she said. “His encyclopedic knowledge and great resourcefulness are invaluable assets and have helped to make the school’s facilities unrivaled.”
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