Whitman Tech Services settles into new home
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The Whitman College Technology Center recently reached its six month mark at the new office across the street from College House, and tech employees are already seeing the positive impacts. Before July of 2016, Whitman College tech staff was spread out amongst Olin Hall, Hunter Conservatory and the other academic buildings on campus. All the departments within tech finally came together in one central location this past summer, in a blue building across the street from Clarette’s.
The shift to a new building has been in the works for a while, according to Chief Information Officer Dan Terrio.
“I’ve been here for over five and a half years, and one of the first things I asked was, ‘Is there an opportunity for all of our staff to come together?’” Terrio said. “At the time, there really weren’t any options available.”
The new Tech Center became available when the lease of the former resident, the Washington State Department of Health and Social Services, was not renewed, and Whitman decided to consolidate all tech departments into this building. The building was built in the mid to late 1950’s and was originally an Albertson’s Grocery Store. The process of reconstructing the inside of the building took almost a year, and the Tech Department has more development ahead as phase two of construction begins this summer. This phase includes exterior construction to make the building appear more obviously part of Whitman campus, including new stucco for the outside of the building and plants added in the parking lot. Right now the building is a square, blue colored building with almost no signage indicating the building is part of Whitman campus.
The centralized location of the offices of all the departments within tech has improved communication between departments, which include network infrastructure, client services and help desk, enterprise technology and instructional learning technology.
“We’re all together now,” Desktop Systems Administrator Cate Lyon said. “That’s been kind of a learning curve because we’ve never been together before. It’s nice because [our work] can be much more collaborative. It’s really great having the Help Desk here, because the students who staff the Help Desk can go to anyone and get help from any of the groups. Before, that was a little more challenging for them because we were distributed across campus.”
Terrio spoke about how the new location has allowed for better communication.
“We are technology people, but instant messaging, telephone and email are not always the most effective ways to communicate,” Terrio said. “Having face-to-face communication is often times more efficient, so that there aren’t misunderstandings … you can resolve things quickly.”
The Tech Department has big things planned for the upcoming year. All the computers on campus will be updated to Windows 10, starting with the computers in the library. Additionally, the server which holds all of the power for technology on campus will be moved from North Hall to the new Tech Building this summer.
Trung Vu, Whitman student and Tech Center Intern, described the tech center at Whitman and his work environment.
“People don’t really notice IT departments unless things aren’t working, and things are usually working here,” said Vu. “There’s a lot of talented staff and really smart people working in that building.”