By Hayes Gardner
On Tuesday, Vice President for College Services John Kalkbrenner and Vice President for Academic Affairs Paula Smith emailed Grinnell College faculty and staff concerning the reorganization of Information Technology Services (ITS).
Ray Kuntz, an external consultant, was hired as Interim ITS Director in July 2012 and has since been working to restructure ITS. The College is now searching for someone to replace Ray Kuntz as ITS Director and plans to fill the position by June.
“We’re moving more towards a team structure,” Kuntz said. “Teams are going to be a little more self-directed than they have been in the past, as opposed to hierarchical management.”
The new structure entails restructuring ITS internally and the termination of three members. Kuntz explained the need to let some staff members go.
“There [are] skills we need to bring in that we don’t have,” he said. “And we’ve been trying to build skills within our staff in some of the roles, but it just takes so much time to build the skills—years and years—that you’ve got to bring in some leadership that can jumpstart you in a lot of critical areas, if you’re going to really move the needle on change.”
The changes were announced with only a couple of weeks remaining in the school year. Kuntz said this plan has been in the works since January, with the decisions being made in a “collaborative decision process” with Kalkbrenner, Smith and senior ITS members. After the announcement on Tuesday, ITS is wasting no time in taking action.
“Changes are effective right now,” Kuntz said. “We just want to keep this thing moving in a positive way … We’re ready.”
Three people have been let go by ITS, but three leadership positions have opened up.
“We’re adding three new roles, which are Relationship Manager, Project Office Manager and Operation Manager,” Kuntz said.
Some students have expressed discontent with the release of College employees and don’t see the College’s reorganization as justified, especially at this time of the semester.
“ITS made these changes suddenly, with no warning, two weeks before the end of the semester, without considering the fact that next week is arguably the most difficult of the semester, with exams to follow,” said Amber Gruner ’13, who is a Technology Consultant (TC).
Additionally, students expressed concern at the lack of transparency in the process.
“I was very surprised to hear the news of the ITS reorganization occurring. But then again, I really shouldn’t have since they never consult students about their changes. They just do what they think is right,” wrote Nancy Hernandez ’13, a TC who completed an Assistive Technology internship last fall, in an email to the S&B.
Despite these concerns from students, Kuntz believes this reorganization is the right move for the College.
“Our goal is to increase efficiency … We must add resource to areas that the campus is screaming for help on and we just don’t have the skills,” Kuntz said. “So we’ve got to respond to that. You’ve got to keep the ship running.”
Kuntz says the changes ITS has made this week were in the best interest of providing support to the student body.
“Our objective here is to serve the students, serve the community,” Kuntz said. “That’s why we exist as a department.”