Auburn University’s Office of Information Technology and Student Government Association teamed up with student volunteers to evaluate OIT’s performance and structure March 8.
The meeting of volunteers and SGA representatives was conducted by a team from Auburn University Montgomery’s Center for Advanced Technology.
“We had consultants on campus talking to different constituency groups to review our processes, how we do business and really looking internally at what we need to do in our own organization with our own personnel,” said Ellyn Hix, director of OIT user services.
Hix said OIT asked for honest feedback from the group of students, faculty and administration regarding services offered.
“These consultants met with the students, but we didn’t want to be present because we wanted them to be honest and forthright with their answers and not be influenced by us,” Hix said.
Hix said she did not know when she will hear the outcome of the meeting, but OIT is expecting a full write-up of the results.
“They are going to be submitting a report for everything,” Hix said. “This is being done per the request of Bliss Bailey, and we have a contract with them.”
Collier Tynes, SGA chief of staff-elect, said she appreciated OIT’s desire to keep the surveyed group unbiased.
“They wanted it to have no conflict of interests and so they didn’t attend so we could get the best review possible,” Tynes said.
Tynes said she thought it was a great thing for OIT to ask for the students’ opinions in hopes they could help the office perform at a higher level in the future.
“I think so often we have this disconnect with them because you don’t see them everywhere, and so for them to come to us meant a lot,” Tynes said.
Hix said the meeting came after several organizational changes at OIT.
“We’ve had some retirements in our organization, and Bliss Bailey had come on as our new executive director,” Hix said. “He looked at it as an opportunity to see if we might should make some changes.”
Tynes said SGA members also participated during the meeting.
“I represented the people that don’t know anything about technology to be quite honest,” Tynes said. “It was interesting kind of hearing from all of the tech gurus about their opinions of OIT and seeing how they conflicted with my opinions.”
Owen Parrish, SGA president-elect, said he called upon various members of governance groups and students of all majors and ages to participate in their survey.
“I was unbelievably surprised by the response,” Parrish said. “It was a three-hour meeting.
We asked 30 students to set aside three hours on a Thursday afternoon right before spring break, and 24 were there and stayed the whole time.”
Parrish said the meeting initially centered around OIT’s problems, but also highlighted the things they do well.
“First we talked about their faults,” Parrish said. “Unreliable Internet, spam emails and Canvas and Blackboard issues, but toward the end of the meeting we went through and ranked on a clicker system what specific things were most important to us.”
Parrish said SGA was pleased with the professionalism of the Center for Advanced Technology team and OIT.
“It was an exceptionally well conducted meeting,” Parrish said. “They made it a comfortable yet productive atmosphere.”
Bliss Bailey, OIT executive director, said he feels it is important for OIT to always remain in contact with the students.
“We interact with the SGA on a regular basis,” Bailey said. “We want to find out what priorities are for the students and to get input from the students to make sure what we are doing syncs up with what the students need.”
Parrish said he hopes other organizations will soon follow OIT’s lead.
“I hope that the lines of communication can be opened up between students and many different organizations on campus,” Parrish said.
“That is our mission as the Student Government Association, to represent students to all of the on-campus organizations, all of the auxiliaries, all of the services provided by the University and make those the best that they can possibly be to serve students, faculty and administration.”