Information Technology (IT) is a vital part of a 21st century university. Faculty and staff depend upon up-to-date software, equipment and support. Both traditional and non-traditional learners work online to complete assignments and access university resources. Administrative services need critical information, and external partners and accrediting agencies expect accurate and manageable data. Cyber security is a new imperative. No institution the size of Oakwood University can afford a professional staff to keep abreast of all the changes in technology and IT vendor opportunities. We all have experienced delays and problems with data storage, data retrieval and user services. In fact, your IT concerns were expressed to me, and we had to make decisions to address them.
I want to be clear — our need to make IT changes cannot be attributed simply to our IT staff. They are dedicated employees. But it has been clear for some time that, as the University’s IT employees, they need additional support, expertise and ongoing training in an area that changes week by week.
Faced with this need for change, we considered four options:
1. Continue as we are and miss critical opportunities to improve our IT services to the campus.
We did not choose this option because of promises we have made to our students, faculty and staff. Oakwood University will provide the best IT services that we can afford.
2. Hire a new Chief Information Officer and ask her or him to upgrade IT services and equipment, replace staff and hire additional new personnel.
The search for the right person to lead this area has been difficult and cost prohibitive, and, even if a new CIO was hired, the opportunity for success is not guaranteed.
3. Outsource all IT functions to a third party who, with their existing staff, would perform alI of Oakwood University’s IT functions.
Again, we decided this was not the best option. We already have an outstanding staff with the potential, under the right working conditions, to become more skilled and productive. Additionally, our present staff knows the institution, its students, its mission, its stakeholders and their respective IT needs. This knowledge is valuable and cannot be immediately replicated.
4. Partner with an outside professional organization that, embracing the knowledge, experience and potential of our present staff, would employ, advise, train and empower them to fully optimize our IT capabilities for the rapidly changing IT needs and goals of the Oakwood University community.
We chose Option Four.
The organization that we have selected, after careful consideration, is Dynamic Campus. It is a company whose proven blend of managed IT services, on-demand technical capabilities, and vendor-neutral approach can develop a “future-ready” IT environment at Oakwood University.
Here’s how this new arrangement will work:
- Dynamic Campus will offer employment to our present IT staff at the same or better rate of compensation and benefits, including health and medical insurance, which will start on their first day of employment with Dynamic Campus. I will, and you should, continue to view these employees as members of the Oakwood University family.
- Our present IT employees will continue to perform IT duties for Oakwood University here on our campus, but, as employees of Dynamic Campus, will report to Dynamic Campus leadership.
- As Dynamic Campus employees, the former Oakwood University IT employees will have the opportunity to work with other highly qualified Information Technology professionals to improve their skills and enhance their understanding of new techniques and equipment.
- This new arrangement will begin May 1, 2019.
This has not been a hasty or easy decision. However, in keeping with our values, it recognizes our obligations to our current employees, and our faith in them, as well as reaffirms our commitment to provide state-of-the-art IT services to all members of the Oakwood University community.