Who is the Scantron man?
Millions of names have passed through Scanning Services on Scantron forms. Yet, one name has arrived at this office every morning at a quarter past seven for the past eight years – Robert Rumans.
Rumans, who manages Scanning Services, said he doesn’t like too much noise outside his office.
“I like to have it quiet in here so we can concentrate and not make mistakes,” he said.
The perpetual whirring sound of the Scantron machine, however, barely registers to him.
“It doesn’t bother me,” he said. “Maybe if you ask the others in here, it may bother them.”
Yet, the “others” in the office tend to fluctuate.
Rumans came to the Office of Decision Support, which Scanning Services falls under, 14 years ago after first working in a temporary employment position at USF following his work as a military official at the Pentagon. Though he worked under a boss during his time as a temporary employee, he soon took over and has been the main employee responsible for processing all student examinations for the USF Tampa campus and faculty evaluations for all four USF campuses.
Occasionally, however, Rumans gets a little help. A few student workers are assigned to him from the Office of Decision Support during “peak influxes” – typically during midterm and exam weeks.
“Two people in here is about right (during those times),” he said. “If you have people in here, it’s not so bad. If you’re in here by yourself, it can get kind of hectic.”
Adam Zimandy, a graduate student studying mechanical engineering, said he came to work in the office in late April during spring exams.
“It was pretty hectic,” he said. “But (Rumans) was here, so it was OK.”
Rumans said now that he’s on the “downside of his career,” his focus is on bringing student workers like Zimandy up to speed with the procedures of the office to avoid chaos – something he arrived to on the job.
He said his Pentagon job and military background helped him develop procedures to run things more smoothly at USF, but did not want to comment on his duties.
“When I first got here, I was really overwhelmed,” Rumans said. “The programs used were written in an archaic language that no one could understand. People would be waiting in lines (outside the office) during exam week. It took about three years to have the office running smoothly.”
With growing student populations, Rumans hopes to never see lines outside his office again. He’s looking into a new machine and new software, which could cost up to $70,000, but might better serve the University’s growing needs, he said.
Three years ago, he replaced the existing Scantron machine after it wore out from so much use. However, the smaller machine USF has now, which cost $12,000, is “not built to handle the volumes this University has.”
Sometimes, situations get stressful, Rumans said. Instructors ask Rumans to provide things that the machine isn’t capable of doing, like allowing for more than one correct answer to be recognized. Rumans said he will sometimes process results by hand to allow for particular instructor requests.
Students sometimes claim the machine was “wrong” in grading their exams, and Rumans said he has caught students trying to “beat the system,” by leaving bubbles blank or filling in multiple bubbles for answers. The machine, he said, is less than 0.5 percent inaccurate.
“It is really accurate,” he said. “It just really can’t read ink or anything other than a No. 2 pencil.”
Once his former boss left, Rumans found himself on his own, taking over the leadership position with thousand of forms to process and new procedures to write into place.
“It took a couple of years before I got the recognition and pay to go along with it, though,” he said. “It seems like forever. It’s really not an easy job. The average person would say I’m crazy for what I do.”
Rumans said he plans to stay with his job at USF.
“As long as they’re willing to have my expertise, I’d be willing to help out,” he said. “It was just happenstance (how I came to this job). You just go through life, and it starts to grow on you.”