In the face of already drastic staff cuts, Yuba College may soon be losing another important student resource. The Information Technologies department help desk is part of the College Board’s contingency plan for the March board meeting.
The help desk has faced the threat of being cut at a previous board meeting, but was defended and preserved by IT Director, Karen Trimble. “The help desk is the students’ first line of defense,” said Trimble.
The help desk is responsible for answering calls from students regarding technological system errors as well as simple “how to” questions. The help desk serves students with an average of about 200 help calls on any given week and up to 500 phone calls during the weeks surrounding registration dates.
Losing the help desk would not be the first time the IT department has faced downsizing. For the past two and a half years IT has lost staff in the name of saving money and the help desk has been picking up the slack from those lost positions. According to Trimble, Yuba College’s IT department is already running at about one third the size of like-size districts.
“If we don’t have anybody there that phone is just going to ring and ring,” explained Trimble. “Somebody has to be there to answer the phone.”
An estimated 70% of students at Yuba College use Web Advisor for online registration and other services, while another 30% use Blackboard for class work, in addition to the students who rely on campus PC’s to accomplish the work they can’t do at home without a computer. The IT department, its help desk in particular, is responsible for meeting the technological needs of all these users.
“We answer to every individual student at this college, whether they are full time or only have one class,” Trimble said of IT. Trimble estimated the number of students who use IT related resources numbered near 6,500.
Despite the growing threat of losing more staff, the IT department has continued efforts to move forward on projects such as the introduction of the portal, an all-inclusive resource that would allow students to access their online classes, as well as registration information from one online location. IT is also continuing energy-saving renovations to the server room and has just installed a new phone system that will save the college an estimated $70,000 per year.
“We are trying to do more and more with less and less,” said Trimble, “and we are doing a good job with what we have, but with continued cuts we don’t know how long we can keep up all the work.”