The main topic of discussion was the draft plan for a "career structure" for ACSs at Wake Forest. Kathy Fansler, who has been working on this with Dean Escott, was unable to attend; Cathy Harris deputized for her. Cathy introduced the plan, and she and Dean Escott fielded questions.
The background to the plan is (a) a widespread feeling that the faculty has been very well served by the ACSs, (b) a feeling that continuity in the ACS cadre is desirable, and (c) a fear that we may start losing good ACSs if we don't soon offer some sort of ladder of professional development in this area.
The draft plan calls for the creation of two new ranks in addition to the current rank of ACS: Academic Computing Consultant I and II. Promotion from ACS to ACC I would be conditional on various factors including "Microsoft certification in at least one area", "thorough familiarity with Remedy", and "at least two additional training courses" or "high quality work in a special assignment" (e.g. development of a major database or instructional lab). Further promotion to ACC II would depend on possession of an advanced degree in a relevant area, considerable experience, training related to "standard technologies" such as Oracle, Cabletron or PeopleSoft, plus other factors.
Those attaining the rank of ACC II would become eligible for Management Internship positions with IS.
Most ACSs seem to favor some such scheme (although a significant minority fear that a graduated structure will be divisive). The most significant reservation regarding the current draft plan seems to be that it perhaps over-emphasizes a "technical" track of advancement, leading towards greater involvement with IS (and less direct involvement with the academic departments). While such a track will no doubt suit some ACSs, it should be seen as but one way in which an ACS can progress. There should also be a more purely "academic track", along which an ACS can advance by demonstrating both high quality work and a commitment to further education in the academic field he or she is serving.
Some of the ACSs present emphasized that the special attractiveness of the ACS position (as opposed to potentially more lucrative posts elsewhere, for people with their skills) lay in the opportunity to exercise technical computing skills in close cooperation with the academic disciplines -- and they were concerned at the possibility that the advancement track, as stated in the draft document, might tend to weaken the latter link.
A second matter was raised by Rick Matthews, who sought the CIT's blessing for making available (via a site license) the Sigma Plot graphing software, as requested by the Departments of Physics, Sociology, Biology, Health and Exercise Science and Economics. The members present endorsed this proposal.