IT chief to step down as administrators lay off dozens of technology staff

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Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Mark Diaz said in an email earlier this month that GW's chief information officer will step down from her post Sept. 1.

Officials are slashing dozens of positions in GW’s technology offices as part of budget cuts to the University’s administrative units, according to employees involved with the affected departments.

Chief Information Officer Loretta Early, who oversaw GW Information Technology, will step down from her position Sept. 1, according to an Aug. 14 email sent to technology staff and obtained by The Hatchet. Four employees with knowledge of the changes, who requested anonymity for fear of retribution from the University, said Early’s resignation comes as officials consolidate GW’s technology offices into one centralized shared-services model.

“With the technology landscape evolving at an exponential rate, the time is now to reassess GW’s objectives and corresponding structure with respect to the technology space,” Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Mark Diaz said in the email.

Most current staff in GWIT, Academic Technologies and other technology offices in GW’s colleges will need to reapply for the consolidated positions created as a result of the merger, the employees said.

A University spokeswoman did not return a request for comment.

Employees said it is unclear how many positions will be eliminated as a result of the downsizing, but the restructuring will force technology staff to compete with each other should they apply for the new consolidated positions. One employee likened the process to “Hunger Games,” because rather than laying off specific employees based on their past performance, all affected staff must now compete for the same positions, they said.

Another employee said hirings for the new positions are expected to begin no later than the end of the month with a goal of completing the reorganization by early September. The hiring process will be conducted by GWIT leadership in partnership with Human Resources staff, the employee said.

Limited staff will be exempt from reapplying under the new structure, including those staff who manage Blackboard and some multimedia specialists that build educational content, the IT employee said.

The new structure will be overseen by a chief digital officer, and officials will launch a search for the position in the “coming months,” according to Diaz’s email. Administrators have enacted a hiring freeze during the pandemic to cut costs but have approved multiple onboardings of senior positions since the freeze began.

“The digital transformation is pushing technology to the forefront as a strategic driver versus an operational facilitator,” Diaz said in the email. “GW can’t and shouldn’t be a bystander in the digital transformation.”

Jonathan Fozard, the associate vice president for the Office of the Chief Information Officer, will serve as the University’s interim chief technology officer until the new official is appointed, according to the email.

“He has led COVID-19 planning and response efforts with IT leadership in GW’s schools and administrative units, and he will continue to work closely with the deans and vice presidents to create a shared services model for our technology services,” Diaz said in the email.

In the email, Diaz did not directly attribute the changes to ongoing budget and staffing cuts in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the employees in GW’s technology offices told The Hatchet that the move is part of an ongoing staffing review of administrative units to close GW’s $220 million budget gap resulting from the coronavirus.

Officials announced earlier this month that Robert Miller, the vice president for research, would transition to a new role as administrators usher in a new structure for GW’s research model. The announcement similarly did not explicitly attribute the decision to budget cuts, but it came days after officials said all administrative units were expected to identify opportunities to “streamline” and “restructure” their operations and staffing.

The overhaul comes as faculty prepare to deliver fall classes nearly entirely online. Technology support staff saw increases in support requests when classes moved online this spring and later offered dozens of workshops to assist faculty in accessing technological resources.

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