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Hammond now heads ITS services desk

By Joe Wlos

John Hammond, Grinnell’s new ITS Services Desk Manager, has only been on campus for close to a week, but he already has a lot on his plate. As the new manager of the TC program and head of technical support, he has spent the past few days in meetings with students and staff, getting acquainted with the College. Luckily, he doesn’t have to worry much about office politics—his wife, Professor Gemma Sala, Political Science, can handle that. After meeting at Wesleyan University several years ago, the couple is finally working at the same institution again.
“She comes to Grinnell three days a week this semester, because she has two classes. We commute together those days,” Hammond said. “Next semester she’s just got sabbatical, so it will just be me.”
However, he will not be alone. Besides his friends on faculty, Hammond will have new colleagues in ITS and over sixty students in the TC corps to keep him company. It also helps that the helpdesk has been his professional home.
“When I was at Wesleyan, before University of Iowa, I was managing their helpdesk. When I came to Iowa, it was a step down from what I was doing, so I’ve been actively looking at various colleges around Iowa,” Hammond said. “This was exactly the step-up in my career that I’ve been looking for.”
The ITS Department is currently in the midst of transition. The new Services Desk in the Forum is still bare, but soon, it will be the hub of the College’s technical support operations, which includes the student-run Helpdesk, located off the CCL.
“About a year ago, ITS went through a review that determined that they wanted to centralize support,” Hammond said.
He will accomplish this by working with staff, students and two consultants to increase coordination among the different tech teams, including the TCs.
“The TC corps has a lot of different facets. It’s got the helpdesk, the AV, the library, the lab, and programming students. All of those students will be under me,” Hammond said. “Because we want the support to be unified, it makes sense to have all of the support people coordinated by one person.”
He’s excited about the new direction in which he can take the TC program, and he hopes to give students “even more opportunities.”
“There probably will be changes, but there’s no decisions being made yet,” Hammond said. “I’ve been here six days. I’ve been spending that time meeting with the team leaders of the students and with [former TC head] Karen McRitchie, trying to figure out the whole complex system that they have in place. The only changes that we want to do are just make the program better.”
For example, Hammond would like to see students and staff working more closely to solve tech problems, giving students more opportunities and experience. The Services Desk in the Forum will have a level one team, tasked with quick fixes and “computer triage,” and a level two team, which will focus on site visits and more advanced problems.
“We will probably have students working at both levels,” Hammond said.
The Helpdesk will continue to be run solely by students.
Although he can’t give more exact details now, Hammond hopes to have changes announced by the end of November, so that the department can be fully functional by the second semester. Until then, he will continue meeting with members of Grinnell’s technical team, to help generate and implement new ideas.
“We want to make sure that everyone has a voice in the process,” he said. “This is a great environment. I’m having nothing but fun. My wife has been here for four years. We have a lot of friends who are faculty and staff. I’m really excited to be here because I want to help make Grinnell IT as great as it can be. It’s a really exciting opportunity to me.”

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  • J

    John HammondNov 2, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    For more information about the ongoing changes and improvements going on at ITS check out the director’s blog!