University Park, IL,
14:57 PM

Conversations with Leaders: Charles Pustz

It’s been less than a year since Charles Pustz joined the Information Technology Services (ITS) team at Governors State University, but he admits they are already thinking about next year.

“I ask them all the time, ‘What can we do to change the game in 2019?’ I am not looking for a specific answer, but I want us to think about our role in creating positive change,’’ said Pustz, Associate Vice President of ITS, who offers a refreshing forward-looking perspective in a field that can be narrow. “I’m excited to set direction here and change the culture of the organization.’’

During his 35-year career, Pustz has managed large teams at corporations, launched new technology, and implemented multimillion programs and systems, driving efficiencies and profits.

Pustz holds a Masters of Business Administration degree, as well as Project Management Professional (PMP) and Six Sigma certifications.

At GSU, he leads a lean department and co-chairs a newly revived Technology Advisory Committee (TAC) that is exploring all aspects of technology from comprehensive enterprise resource planning systems to student interfacing programs like Blackboard to maintenance schedules to equipment.

Pustz can talk systems and integrations, technology, and applications all day, yet he knows the value of human interface and collaboration. “I want to be a partner—not just a service provider—to identify technology and systems that help create the best experience for students, faculty, and staff.”

As TAC co-chair, Pustz insisted on partnering with the academic side of the house to ensure all perspectives are being considered when the discussion turns to faster and more efficient technology in classrooms, conference areas, labs, and student lounges.

Together with Associate Provost Colleen Sexton, Pustz leads the cross functional TAC, comprised of faculty, staff, and students. The committee recently recommended the university pilot a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) that would revolutionize desktop computing and the way students learn.

VDI would replace bulky towers and desktop units with a so-called thin client. “You basically have a smart monitor with keyboard, mouse, and USB peripherals. The actual operating system and programs run in GSU’s data center.”

The benefits are more working space and more efficient use of power, as well as greater access to students across the world to GSU programs such as Wolfram Mathematica and Microsoft Project.

For those who have security concerns, Pustz says, “That’s part of the pilot, determining how this is secured in our environment. But in the end, if it works, what better way to allow global students to have the power of our resources. It goes right to our mission: providing accessible education for students anywhere.”

Some students are already seeing his digital handprint in classrooms. In the spring, B-building classrooms received technology facelifts with new wiring, HD projectors, and lighting operated by new touch screens.

Plans are now underway to duplicate the technology across campus in classrooms and conference rooms, Pustz said. “We just want to make this the best experience for students possible and sharp images are part of that.”

Across the Southland region, Pustz is collaborating with the South Metropolitan Higher Education Consortium (SMHEC) to leverage each institution’s resources, saving precious dollars and delivering highly sought services to create classrooms of the future.

Pustz spent much of his professional past in industry before he brought his technology skills to education, which forced him to try something new. “I fell in love with the camaraderie and how everyone works together for a common cause. You get to meet, see, and talk to your customer from an IT perspective, that's not always the case."

He also teaches a business course, which gives him an up-close and personal view of what students want. Pustz said it’s all part of his plan to be more than just a service provider to the university.

“I want people to know students can come to Governors State where technology is part of all we do and provides them an exceptional educational experience.”