Vital improvements to Information Technology (IT) on campus are in question after the Board of Trustees rejected recommendations from Pierce officials to bring in outside help.
After a no confidence vote and assessments that industrial IT on campus was not at an adequate level, school officials wanted to hire an outside firm to assist. However, according to Vice President of Administrative Services Rolf Schleicher, the Board of Trustees rejected the request to bring in the Burwood Group due to an alleged contract violation.
“We really do need their expertise to help with some of the unique things we’re doing which would not be supplanting our classified union members,” Schleicher said. “There was an assumption that there was some supplanting of work, so when I went and talked to the board I articulated all the things that we wanted to have done and why we were doing it. IT needs some fixers and high-ticket level expertise that we may not have in-house, and they’d like us to use in-house labor.”
The developments were discussed at the Academic Senate meeting on Monday, Nov. 21. IT manager Mark Henderson told the senate members that current IT employees are ‘here to maintain, not create and design,’ as many of the projects require.
According to Schleicher, regardless of the board’s decision, other IT improvements are in the works. Schleicher told the senate that there are plans to double IT staff, an area ‘that was neglected.’
“We want to get them more professional development,” Schleicher said. “And we’re inverting how we do the work as well. We approach it from a whole different frame of reference, where we’re actually having a help desk up, helping to qualify the work orders.”
According to Schleicher, Pierce has been working on a five to 10-year plan for fixing the IT issues on campus. Unfortunately, time only creates new problems with technology.
The Wi-Fi system on campus is seven to eight years old, according to Henderson, and was designed with different needs in mind. Classrooms in the Center for Sciences were not originally designed to have Wi-Fi inside of them and are being retrofitted to alleviate the problem.
At the Academic Senate meeting, instructor of physics Ryan Eagle said he has seen no improvements to the classrooms in the CFS over the last three semesters.
“Maybe they have, I’m not in every classroom,” Eagle said. “But I feel like they should have been able to get to more rooms by now.”
The CFS is not the only place on campus where Wi-Fi is being looked at. According to Henderson, different areas of the campus are being assessed for where Wi-Fi should be made available.
With phase 1 of the North of Mall buildings set to open mid-December, the general location of students on campus may change. The goal is to have Wi-Fi available outside of classrooms in the more populated areas on campus.
“We want to meet everyone’s needs and requirements, students, faculty and staff, in regards to providing a robust technological environment on campus,” Henderson said. “We’re turning a corner. As we get new facilities open we make sure we have all the proper technological programs in these locations.”