More money to push IT initiative

Problems with Wi-Fi and non-functioning smart classrooms continue to frustrate faculty and students. Information technology issues on campus were a major topic of conversation at the Academic Senate on Sept. 26, 2016 in the Great Hall.

According to Vice President of Administrative Services, Rolf Schleicher, Pierce is in fiscal shape and is hiring faculty at a high rate. Eight new IT positions have recently been filled and two more positions, including DCS technician and media specialist, are expected to be filled.

“If we are unable to get the majority of the work done, it will be difficult for us to deliver the services that students and faculty are seeking as far as IT support,” Schleicher said.

The plan centers around a five phase process covering a number of initiatives.  

Pierce is purchasing new servers, working on its databases, and trying to update the entire infrastructure.  

The Academic Senate is consulting focus groups to discuss what Wi-Fi should be like at Pierce to get a better idea of how to tackle the problem.

The IT issues originated in the Center for Sciences and were discussed by the Academic Policy Committee during the summer before being brought up at the Academic Senate meeting.

The broad campus community has experienced IT issues, according to senator Michelle Meyer.

Pierce IT Manager Mark Henderson was not present at the meeting, but had expressed in the past that if the five phase plan were to move forward, it would affect the morale of the current IT personnel. That being said, he was still in favor of it passing.

This discussion caused confusion among senate members the last time the issue was voted on, leading to a majority of abstentions.  

According to nursing professor Connie Tu, the senators’ main concern should not be the morale of the IT staff.

“I think we should not forget that this community college is for the students and if we’re thinking about the morale of the IT [staff] we should also think about the morale of the students because it’s very frustrating if you’re right there and you’re trying to teach something and you don’t have the resources. I really think we should move forward with this one,” Tu said.

According to professional development representative, Maria Perser, Henderson has been asking the administration through Annual Program Plan (APP’s) for additional resources for the last ten years.

The move forward will be a gradual phased approach, and the changes will affect every area of campus.

Other topics discussed by the panel included new hire concerns, the LA College Promise, as well as disaster recovery and safety concerns on campus, specifically within the nursing program.

Nursing students and staff who occupy the Center for Sciences have expressed serious security concerns.

The Center for Sciences building has no Wi-Fi, no cell phone service, and all of the blue safety poles have been removed from the area.

According to Associate Professor of Nursing, Bonnie Lemus, this is a huge safety issue for staff and students alike.

“We have incidents where people come in from the outside and we’re not able to protect ourselves should something really significant happen,” Lemus said.

In the case of an emergency, staff and students in the Center for Sciences have no way to alert the sheriff’s deputies located on the opposite end of campus because of the lack of cell phone reception in the area.

Lemus has contacted the administration about these concerns, specifically President Kathleen Burke and Schleicher, but is prepared to go further if changes aren’t made.
Lemus is hoping to hear that the administration has plans to resolve the problem much sooner than the year time span that was previously discussed.