The Information Technology (IT) Department has undergone a mass staffing exodus in the past year. Former Associate Chief Information Officer and Director of Support Services Luis Hernández Muñiz left the department in February, and was followed by five of his employees. The mass exodus is mainly due to the offering of an early retirement program by the college.
Since leaving the college, Muñiz has transitioned to the role of Director of Productivity and Collaboration Services at the University of California, Berkeley. Director of IT Infrastructure Brian Holley, was another IT employee to transition elsewhere. As of July, Holley has worked for Samford University as the senior security Analyst.
The other five individuals who have left that department elected to retire early. The retirees include Deb McCulloch from PC Infrastructure Operations, Jan Jourdain of Technology Support Relations, Bob Ryan from Technology Support Operations, Senior Service Desk Technician Jayne Lovett and Multimedia Services Manager John Kunhardt.
Chief Information Officer David Hamilton cited the early retirement program as the cause for the mass exodus. “The college offered an early retirement program, and 5 staff who were eligible for it opted to participate. Each would have their own specific motivations, but generalizing, I suspect they would say it made financial sense for them to participate in the program given their age — most of the retirees were at or past the IRS definition of retirement age,” he said.
When asked about her decision to retire, Jourdain said, “For the past several years, I had hoped to retire in June 2021 when I turned 65. Fortunately, the retirement incentive program (VRO) the college offered this spring made that possible. I can’t speak to the timing of my IT colleagues’ retirements other than to say several of us are similar in age and the offer was ‘too good to refuse,’ as the saying goes.”
Kunhardt noted similar reasons for leaving the college, “In the spring of this year, the college offered a ‘voluntary retirement option’ which was quite generous. The caveats were, the staff had to be at least 62 and have 15 years of service to the college. They are paying us close to a full year's salary 14 days after retirement.”
He continued to say, “My colleagues were all either 65 or older. I am the only one under 65. They were ready anyway, and the offer made the decision fairly easy. Amherst has been a great place to work, and I think all my colleagues would agree on that.”
All of the five individuals were pillars of IT and had been with the department for over 20 years. Lovett was the longest serving employee of the college. After 40 years in the IT Department, her last day was Aug. 31. Altogether, these employees have given the college 128 years of service.
The IT department addresses numerous technological needs of the college. Namely, they are tasked with keeping the wireless network up and running, providing technical support to students, staff, and faculty, and also with the provision of specialized software such as Adobe products and Final Cut Pro. When the college transitioned to remote teaching, IT also became stradled with addressing video conferencing concerns. Specifically, IT helps the community navigate and solve issues with Zoom, Meet and Slack. Despite the additional workload that the department has been burdened with because of the pandemic, IT has yet to fill a majority of its open positions.
Hamilton stated that filling the open positions is still a work in progress, “We have filled one of the openings, and have three open searches. We also have another candidate who we hope will start in October. Our candidate pools in these searches have definitely been smaller than we're used to, but we're optimistic we can find the right candidates for the positions we have.”
When asked about the hiring process, Interim Director of IT Services Tyrell Wellington noted that IT is, “working through the process of finding the right individuals to provide excellent service to our Staff, Faculty, and Students.”
In addition to those who have permanently left the department, IT has staff that are on leave, including Tamara Lewis, assistant to the Chief Information Officer David Hamilton. David Yang ’18 also left the department after completing a fellowship with the department on June 30.