As we take this regular opportunity to look back at the year past, I expect my conclusion is similar to many of yours—the Division of IT has had many challenges to contend with. Perhaps chief among these are the difficulties we’ve faced this year, and in years past, related to staffing levels and the state of the Columbia campus’s IT infrastructure.
When I briefed then-incoming President Amiridis on the state of IT at the University of South Carolina, these topics featured prominently in the conversation. We spoke about staffing levels in 2021 compared to previous years—compared to 2018, we saw a reduction of over 50 full-time equivalent positions in DoIT. This issue is also present among our partners in distributed IT organizations across the Columbia campus at a similar scale. Collectively, we in IT and those students, faculty, and staff to whom we provide IT as a critical service all felt that pain. On the heels of 2020, a year in which the university’s community banded together to make teaching and learning possible amidst conditions of a then-nascent worldwide pandemic, that collective pain was particularly acute.
The lack of acceptable IT infrastructure hardware refreshes is nothing new to those of us working in the Division of IT. Now, in the fourth quarter of 2022, the entire Columbia campus sees this problem as clearly as we do. When I met with President Amiridis earlier this year, we reviewed the alarmingly consistent upward trend in reported incidents related to our campus’s data network—an obvious indicator of our failing hardware. Around that same time, DoIT’s leadership made many difficult decisions. Considering what it takes to keep the university running, we transferred funding away from exciting strategic initiatives to keep our network infrastructure operational.
So many of our division’s staff spent this past year fighting fires, splitting their time between restoring IT services, fulfilling demands for new IT capabilities from our business partners, and serving our end users directly all while keeping the division afloat with daily operations. I am filled with pride and admiration for our division’s staff as I consider this last year. Because no matter the challenges you have faced, you’ve kept us operational. And not only the division—the University of South Carolina continues to operate thanks in no small part to the many acts of considerable effort I see so many of you performing so often.
In recent months, I have seen those responsible for the University of South Carolina’s strategy take IT more seriously, thanks in part to many changes the university’s leadership has undergone over this last year. Foremost among those new leaders, President Amiridis has taken our division’s requirements and value seriously. His recent investments in classroom technology and Wi-Fi on the Columbia campus make it clear that we are in changing times. I know now with little doubt that better days are ahead for us. With the right outlook, we can see the elevated expectations and accelerated pace of change that are quickly becoming the University of South Carolina’s new normal as the early signs of a rising tide.
This next year will be demanding in new ways for our division. But these challenges ahead, unlike most of those now behind us, are growing pains. They are the entry price for a better state.
Thank you all for everything you’ve given to the University of South Carolina in this past year. Together, we’ll ensure every bit of it was worthwhile.
Vice President for Information Technology and CIO