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BU Consolidates Computer Sales and Support

University Computers to close; merger with PCSC will support BU users

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This summer, everyone from tech-savvy Linux users to tech-phobic Facebook novices will be able to protect their PCs, build software skills, and combat the Blue Screen of Death in one location on Boston University’s campus. University Computers, BU’s longtime retail and service center for computers, software, and electronics, will be consolidated with the Personal Computing Support Center (PCSC) at the end of the semester, folding the support services offered by both departments into the PCSC’s operation.

Information Technology announced the move yesterday, citing BU President Robert A. Brown’s effort to streamline services across the University, as well as to cut costs in areas that are not a critical part of the academic mission.

“It’s motivated by a sense of how we do business and how we’re going to do it better by integrating these two services together in one location,” says Michael Krugman, the interim vice president of IT. “To run a retail operation in this economy is more challenging than ever, and what we’re trying to do is put ourselves out of harm’s way.”

Under the new system, the University Computers storefront in Kenmore Square will close, as both the sales and service departments will become part of existing University resources. Tech support and repairs will be provided at the PCSC headquarters at 111 Cummington St. The consolidation may reduce costs for users, Krugman says; University Computers charges for service calls, but the PCSC does not charge for basic service calls, such as software interventions.

Sales will also move to the PCSC building, where shoppers will be able to test different computers at a new demonstration station. All BU departments as well as the broader BU community will be able to place computer orders on a new Web site, to be launched over the summer to facilitate the transition. Joseph Mercurio, BU’s executive vice president, says the new Web-based sales model and consolidation of services “will provide the community with access to educational discounts in a more cost-efficient way.”

University Computers currently employs 15 people; 5 repair technicians will continue working at IT, while 10 positions will be eliminated. Manuel Monteiro, the associate vice president of human resources, says the employees were notified yesterday, and the layoffs will take place over the next five months. Each employee will receive outplacement services from Human Resources, and each has been encouraged to apply to open positions at BU.

The Kenmore Square storefront will be marketed to potential commercial tenants by Rental Property Management, Mercurio says.

The entire personal computing industry is experiencing a downturn, both in stores and on the Web: Mac sales are expected to come in 200,000 under target in the first quarter of 2009, according to JPMorgan Chase analysts, and PC sellers as a whole are anticipating an 11.9 percent decline in 2009, according to the research group Gartner, Inc. Sharp sales declines have occurred at University Computers as well: since October, sales are down 20 percent from fiscal year 2008, with drops of 45 percent in October, 29 percent in January, and 30 percent in February. Many major national retailers, such as Circuit City, have closed their doors in recent months.

8 Comments

8 Comments on BU Consolidates Computer Sales and Support

  • Anonymous on 04.03.2009 at 5:55 am

    Advertisement posing as editorial

    When did BUToday start running adverts as top stories? This story would be better sent out as a press release, since it seems to have no writer. It seems like this award-winning Website is slipping from its normal, informative coverage.

  • Anonymous on 04.03.2009 at 9:02 am

    Holy Moly ! ! !

  • PCSC Employee on 04.03.2009 at 9:25 am

    This is a good thing. The separation of UC and PCSC only slows down the process of resolving hardware issues. Basic hardware replacements and upgrades such as RAM and HDD installations could easily be done by PCSC members, but we were not allowed to do so and were required to refer the customers to PCSC. This should definitely streamline things.

  • FormerUCTech on 04.03.2009 at 10:12 am

    Goodbye UC...

    I was one of the service technicians more than 10 years ago at University Computers, when it was still part of 660 Corporation and before BU officially acquired us. It’s been nice to see UC surviving all these years, but sadly it’s time for it to pass into history.

  • Anonymous on 04.03.2009 at 11:53 am

    Losing the retail aspect of IT is a huge loss to the University. It was a valuable service for both BU students, parents, faculty, professors, alumni, and local college students.

  • Tom on 04.03.2009 at 11:57 am

    University Computers

    Unless those 10 people were doing nothing or you have 10 people doing nothing at PCSC then how could service not suffer? Maybe we have to get used to less.

  • Anonymous on 04.03.2009 at 4:59 pm

    “This is a good thing” author does not have all the facts. PCSC does not have qualifications or licenses to do hardware work. I believe he has some misconceptions that should be fixed asap

  • Anonymous on 04.04.2009 at 1:30 pm

    More "consolidation" to come

    I’m sorry for the consolidation of Computer Sale unit. It was a valuable resource. I’m sorry for the 10 people who will be out of work.

    I was also surprised to see that the basis of another consolidation are taking place at the BU Engineering Library. It is just question of time that all periodicals (and more) will be accessible only online — maybe with other strings attached — and that maybe the whole library will become a virtual one.

    I think that there should be more open discussion on it, not just to ask each patron to express his/her opinion on how much they read a particular paper magazine.

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