2015 will be a year of change at the SSCC, and this month's issue of SSCC News is devoted to giving you a preview of what lies ahead.
After more than twenty years of service to the SSCC, including 15 years as Director, Nancy McDermott will retire in July of this year. Her vision, leadership, and devotion to the mission of the University and the members of the SSCC will be sorely missed.
There can never be a replacement for Nancy, only a successor. However the process of hiring even a successor has been delayed by uncertainty about the state budget. We have contingency plans in place for several possible outcomes of this process. In the unlikely event that the situation is still unresolved when Nancy retires, Associate Director Andy Arnold will act as Interim Director for as long as necessary.
One consequence of budget cuts that we do know about now is that the School of Education (SoE) and the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER) will leave the SSCC on July 1 2015. We have enjoyed working with their researchers and will be sad to see them go, but we understand the budgetary pressures they are under.
SoE is the single largest member of the SSCC by number of users, and SoE and WCER combined provide about 15% of the SSCC's annual budget. Unfortunately, the departure of SoE in and of itself will not significantly reduce the cost of running the SSCC. This is the flip side of economies of scale: it costs very little to have more people use existing SSCC services, but it also saves very little to have fewer people use them. In this time of budget cuts we cannot ask our other members to make up this lost funding.
We will therefore eliminate one position from the SSCC staff, specifics to be determined once the Director situation is clarified. We will also leave vacant the office assistant position we share with CDE. The duties of the eliminated positions will be distributed among our remaining staff. This will not be enough to fully offset the funding loss, so we will also take other steps to reduce costs and increase the amount of revenue coming into the SSCC.
We do not plan on eliminating any of the SSCC's core services, and we will do our best to maintain both the quality and the timeliness of our support. We hope that you will not notice any differences as a result of these staff cuts, but if you do we ask for your patience.
One way we will bring in new revenue is to begin charging for our training. We are very proud of our training classes, and skyrocketing demand shows that they are valuable to the University. We have no plans to charge SSCC members for training, but we can no longer afford to provide it to the entire campus for free. The charge to non-members will depend on the length of the course; courses like Stata for Researchers and R for Researchers will cost $225.
One issue we must resolve for this to work is the practice some SSCC members have of signing up for many, many SSCC classes and then not attending any of them. We understand that plans change, but we think it's reasonable to expect members to notify us of those changes. We will give everyone a fresh start as we move to the new system, but any SSCC member who establishes a track record of not attending the classes he or she registered for, without contacting us, will lose the privilege of registering for classes for free and have to pay for SSCC training in the future.
We will also begin offering statistical consulting to those who are not members of the SSCC on a paid basis. This will give non-members access to the SSCC's statistical consultants on the same basis as members, though members will have priority. We are still in the process of finalizing the exact terms of service, but we anticipate the rate will be $100/hour with a three hour minimum. Former members from SoE and WCER will be welcome to use this service after July 1.
SSCC members from SoE and WCER will no longer have access to Winstat, Linstat, statistical consulting, and all other SSCC services after July 1. Please consider now how this transition will affect you.
The SSCC's statistical consultants anticipate a surge in consulting requests just before the end of the semester and just before July 1. We encourage members from SoE and WCER not to wait until the last minute to take advantage of your current free access to the SSCC's statistical consultants.
Any files SoE and WCER members have on the SSCC network, either because you log into Winstat using the PRIMO domain rather than SOE-AD or because you have files on the SSCC's Linux servers, must be moved to the SoE network by July 1. One easy way is to log in to Winstat using your SOE-AD account, map any drives you use on the SSCC network, and then move the files by simply dragging them. Just remember to delete the originals on the SSCC network once you've confirmed they're in place on the SoE network.
If you have any questions about this transition, contact the MERIT Help Desk or WCER tech support. They are your primary computing providers and, as always, members from SoE and WCER should only contact the SSCC Help Desk for statistical consulting. Also note that the SSCC Help Desk cannot assist you with issues relating to the new SoE statistical servers.
Members from SoE and WCER are welcome to sign up for Lower-Tier SSCC memberships, which are appropriate for individual researchers or small research groups. This does not include statistical consulting, but it would give you access to Winstat, Linstat, the SSCC's Condor flock (all of which run Stata MP16) and SSCC training for free. Details can be found on our Joining the SSCC web page.