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Faculty struck by IT Budget Cuts

 Midway through the 2011 fiscal year, VSU’s Information Technology infrastructure will likely undergo a 35 percent budget cut, facing a decrease from $400,000 to $260,000.

The cuts will not affect maintenance and upgrades to computers in labs and computer classrooms; upkeep of student-used computers are covered by the Student Technology fee. Also, the budget cuts will not affect the IT department’s operational budget, nor will it affect the department’s staffing, which has almost doubled.

  However, the budget for faculty and staff office upgrades will be cut in half. According to Joe Newton, director of information technology, faculty computers are on a four-year refresh plan, which replaces computers after they reach four years of age; however, 35 percent of these computers are currently five years or older.

 “Three years, in my opinion, is really preferable [for faculty computer to be replaced],” Professor Ashok Kumar, interim director of the department of math and computer sciences, said. “It shouldn’t go more than four years.”

 Echoing professor Kumar’s sentiments, Dr. Miryam Espinosa-Dulanto, professor of Spanish, feels that a crippled office computer could be a major inconvenience for managing the large perspective course she teaches.

 “We rely on good computers,” Dr. Espinosa-Dulanto said. “Mine looks about four years old and the poor thing is already failing. It would be a major inconvenience for us if we didn’t have the support we need.”

 Also affected by the cuts is the budget for network switches, wiring, servers and other infrastructure upgrades.

According to Newton, none of the IT infrastructure services will be scaled back. Only upgrades to the system will be deferred.

 “These particular budget cuts proposed only affect upgrades and expansion,” he said. “They do not affect current levels of staffing, support, operations or infrastructure.”

 Newton attributes the university’s planning process to the institution’s ability to weather cuts to discretionary budgets. We are being good stewards with the taxpayer’s money, Newton said.

 Some of the deferred projects include internal copper cabling for Barrow Hall and Powell Hall.  Projects that will be funded include external fiber optic cabling for Martin Hall and internal copper cabling for the Education Center.

 “Martin Hall has fiber cabling connecting the building to the campus and its working, slower than the rest of campus,” Newton said. “It runs at 100mbps, opposed to 1000mbps (gigabit). The Education Center has 100mbps internal copper cabling, the second floor is a gigabit, and one suite of offices on the first floor is as well – but the rest is not.” Newton also notes that Barrow and Powell both have 100mbps internal copper cabling that needs to be upgraded to the 1000mbps (gigabit) campus standard.

Newton is optimistic that the IT department’s funding pools will be restored early in the 2012 fiscal year, hinging on the recovery of the economy and state budgets.

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