By Cassy Sottile and Erica Quinones
As students return to campus, they will find many things the same and others changed. Aside from new staff, the reopening of Cullen Hall, and Public Safety’s return to Cullen Hall, they will also find changes in the Office of Information Technology.
The OIT department was outsourced over the summer, becoming a service of the company Ellucian, according to Washington College’s website.
Ellucian is a tech company that, according to their website, works with higher education institutions in “enhancing operations and enriching” students’ experiences. They advertise the creation of “a data-empowered institution” with focuses in finance, human resources, student services, recruiting and admissions, advancement and alumni relations, and information technologies.
The decision to outsource the department was made after the departure of several OIT staff members over the past year, according to outgoing Executive Vice President of Strategy and Operations Mark Hampton.
“In assessing the most cost-effective way to cover the functions that they performed for the College, we determined that outsourcing was the best and most cost-effective way to cover all of our administrative and infrastructure IT needs,” Hampton said.
Hampton said the existence of a primarily off-campus department solves two problems for small, rural schools like WC: the cost of enticing “top talent” to move into small towns and the challenge of finding full-time staff “who can cover a mix of functions.” Because the department primarily works remotely, Hampton said outsourcing allows WC to have only a few on-site staff and “access to exactly the right amount of support we need for critical functions not covered by those staff.”
Despite the department’s move off-campus, Hampton said that “there should be very few changes in communications between OIT and students.”
The department will have five on-campus staff members, two of whom previously worked for OIT. Additionally, they will be joined by visiting staff and supported remotely as needed.
“For all intents and purposes, [on-campus employees] interact with the rest of campus just as if they were College employees,” Hampton said.
Due to OIT’s downsizing, there are no current student workers in the department.
Hampton said “while this may change in the future, students who are interested in IT-related work should apply for HelpDesk positions or positions at the GIS Lab.”
While communication with the department will stay mostly unchanged, there are several updates in progress.
These updated areas include the College’s wireless network, the authentication of gaming devices, and administrative systems that students use like course registration, according to Hampton.
One section of OIT that is untouched by the outsourcing deal is the HelpDesk and its staff.
“There are no plans to change the IT HelpDesk staff,” Hampton said. “Students should continue to access the services they need as they have done in the past.”