Sent by Allin Cottrell on behalf of the CIT to Dean Escott on May 12, 1999.
Comments on draft "ideas for career development for ACSs",
dated Dec. 8, 1998
Thank you for joining us for discussion of the ACS plan. Let us
preface our remarks by saying that we all greatly appreciate your work
on this, and hope that the scheme will help us to retain and develop
our best ACS talent in the service of the academic mission of the
The following represents a consensus within the CIT (or at least,
among those members who are currently available for discussion). It
also reflects the views of the majority of ACSs. This was not
pre-ordained -- that is, we would have felt free to disagree with the
ACSs, had we not found their case persuasive.
Our most general comment on the proposal is that if it is to achieve
what we intend, it must engage with the priorities and interests of
the ACSs themselves. Many ACSs have said that what is particularly
attractive to them about the position -- what keeps them here despite
their greater earning potential in the commercial world -- is their
close ties to the academic departments. And, while for the most part
they welcome the sort of career track indicated in the draft, they are
concerned that the trajectory of advancement therein may distance them
from their core academic functions.
We offer below some specific suggestions that may help change this
Qualifications for ACS:
It might help set the tone, to specify not just knowledge of
technology, but also some degree of familiarity with the content of
the particular academic field the ACS is to serve.
Qualifications for ACC I:
Here the five "minimum requirements" are (breaking them out for ease
1. "Microsoft certification in at least one area"
We don't think this should be a *requirement*, though it may be
relevant and may be taken into account. We fear this may get the ACC
concept off to a rocky start, by emphasizing "techiness". Such
training is expensive, and may be of quite limited relevance to many
2. "thorough familiarity with Remedy"
We wouldn't explicitly insist on this upfront either, for similar
reasons (although clearly an ACS should be able to enter and look up a
3. "HTML certification"
We're not sure what this means. Who offers such certification? We'd
suggest that we should require "proven competence in constructing web
sites that validate as well-formed html" (see http://www.w3.org/).
4. "high quality of performance as an ACS and recommendations from the
supervising Chairperson and the Dean"
No objection here!
5a. "at least two additional training courses in areas directly
relevant to job responsibilities"
How about "training courses or academic qualifications"? (Leaving
open the possibilities of Master's courses or diplomas relating to the
academic field served by the ACS.)
5b. "high quality work in a special assignment"
The text gives examples of special assignments, but the definition is
left (suitably, in our view) flexible by the addition of "or other
approved projects that advance the interests of a specific discipline
or group of disciplines or benefit technology users across campus".
Our only question here is, What would be the mechanism for obtaining
approval of projects? In our view the Departments should have a
reasonable degree of autonomy in this regard.
Qualifications for ACC II:
1. "An advanced degree in an area relevant in a meaningful way to work
2. "considerable experience"
3. "training related to one or more of our standard technologies,
e.g., Oracle, Cabletron, PeopleSoft, Netscape, Courseware standard"
This reads a bit oddly. On the one hand, Netscape and the Courseware
standard are user-friendly applications, in the operation of which a
highly computer-literate person such as an ACS would not need
training. On the other hand, more highly technical training in Oracle
or Cabletron could be relevant in some cases, but not all. What is it
we're really looking for here? As in point 1 for the ACC I, are we
not in danger of stipulating for qualifications that would certainly
help an ACS get well-paid work elsewhere, but that would not
necessarily help him or her do the core work of an ACS to a higher
4. "100 hours of experience conducting training on our campus"
This indicates that one responsibility of the ACC is substantial
participation in training tasks. We know that ACSs are currently
involved in training to some degree (e.g. of Freshmen, under Rhoda's
administration). But does this represent an increase? If so, do we
want to make this a universal requirement? Maybe so, but it may be
worth considering trade-offs here.
5a. "work experience in at least one part-time or full-time
cross-training situation (understood to be 6 months in duration)"
We're not sure what cross-training is.
5b. "strong performance in a special assignment made after promotion
to ACC I"
6. "publication of one paper or presentation of at least two papers at
7. "strong performance as an ACC I..."
The statements on criteria for promotion are followed by a paragraph
that discusses the options and responsibilities of the ACC II. The
options noted all involve some degree of movement away from the ACC's
academic department (management internships, special assignments),
with talk of making arrangements for others to fill in for the
Departmental work. We can understand that this may suit some ACCs,
and may be useful to the University, but it's our impression that it
is not initially attractive to many of the present ACSs.
We'd suggest adding a statement to the effect that if an ACC II is
doing excellent work for his or her Department or Departments, then
pursuing that path without substantial deflection into management or
campus-wide responsibilities remains a valid option. For example, we
can imagine an ACC building a career on service to his or her
(possibly adoptive) discipline, and adding "weight" by developing new
software, writing papers and making conference presentations --
activities which will redound to the credit of the University at
In addition, here are a couple of suggestions for worthy activities
that might be mentioned as counting towards promotion at one level or
other: mentoring of new ACSs (it can take a while for a new ACS to
learn the business of any given Department, and systematic help from
more experienced people could be very valuable), and assisting faculty
in seeking external grant funding for technology-related projects.
Allin Cottrell (5/12/99), for the CIT