Going Places

Master of Liberal Studies grad brings unique perspective and interdisciplinary thinking to his integral role in higher ed administration

Bernard Gulachek put his undergraduate degree in speech communication to good work at his alma mater--in the IT field. And while at first it may seem off-course, after sitting down with him, one realizes that he is very much a people person, and what he's doing relies as much on communication and soft skills, as it does technology and hardware.

Bernard Gulachek, Associate Vice President for UMN ITGulachek first started work at the U as a technology customer service representative in 1986, later moving to director of operations, then planning for the Office of Information Technology (OIT), and, most recently was named associate vice president for IT in May 2012.

"My roles here have been less about specific hardware, and more about managing people and systems. And while they have evolved through the years, they have typically been forward-looking. I truly believe that the research I did in innovation as part of the MLS program positioned me for success in this area, which requires a broad perspective."

As the director of planning for OIT, it was Gulachek's job to understand which new technologies they should invest in; which services and products should they sunset. In 2008, his title was changed to senior director for strategy and management, and he began to focus on strategies and initiatives for ALL of the U's IT needs--not just OIT.

In his newest role, he has expanded on those duties, as his office works to accomplish President Kaler's goal of aligning IT across the institution. It is his job to define roles, know where duplication occurs, and consolidate services.

"It's about finding the most efficient way to deliver the technology services that the institution needs--whether that is delivering at the department level, the central level, or by strategically sourcing to private industry. The goal is to maintain or improve service levels--but increase operational efficiency.

"What we're doing is working to facilitate an IT community that is willing to work together through alignment, where duplicative activities are eliminated and complementary IT activities are harnessed to significantly advance the institution and its goals."

Gulachek's MLS work centered on the relationship between knowledge workers, information technology, and higher education, something that continues to be relevant to his career today, more than a decade after graduation. "It shifted my thinking away from how to just keep technology running, to how technology would shape our world--which for me, was in higher ed. and how we work. Which is exactly what I'm doing in this role now: positioning the institution and the culture within it to meet the future from the technological perspective. It's an interesting and rewarding challenge."