Rubrik: Campus Life
CSCS seeks to grow with new joint management
Strengthened leadership for national computing centre
Published: 08.03.2007 06:00
Modified: 07.03.2007 22:10
In response to the latest upheavals at the CSCS, a joint management team will be responsible for the supercomputing centre in Manno in future. The current director Marie-Christine Sawley will now head the CSCS together with Marco Baggiolini, ex-President of the USI. ETH Zurich President Konrad Osterwalder stressed to the media in Manno the importance of the CSCS as the national centre for supercomputing.
Konrad Osterwalder described the strengthening of management by Marco Baggiolini, former President of the University of Italian-speaking Switzerland (USI), as a stroke of luck. He said on the one hand the actions taken represented continuity and on the other they strengthened the management structure of the CSCS (1) with a specific aim. Organisationally the CSCS reports to ETH Zurich.Good marks for technical competence
The management level innovations are in response to an industrial dispute at the CSCS that escalated in the spring of 2006. (2) At that time eight employees levelled serious charges against management, including bullying at the workplace and the lack of a strategy when procuring new supercomputers – and in a letter leaked to the media they demanded the resignation of the Director and the Operations Manager. As a result the President of ETH Zurich at that time, Ernst Hafen, commissioned an administrative enquiry to investigate the allegations.
No details of the administrative enquiry were disclosed in Manno. However, Konrad Osterwalder said this much: the enquiry had revealed certain management weaknesses, but the labour dispute had also been caused by the unconciliatory attitude of certain employees. On Monday, first at a staff information meeting and then before the media, Konrad Osterwalder appealed to “all the forces of good will” to let the conflicts be a thing of the past and to allow a new beginning.
A peer review carried out independent of the administrative enquiry gave the CSCS management good marks from the technical viewpoint in the summer of 2006. According to this experts’ report, the CSCS had made considerable progress compared to the previous review in 2002. Therefore, according to Baggiolini, the task now was to continue resolutely along the chosen path while at the same time improving internal collaboration and contacts with customers.Renowned scientist as co-president
As he himself says, Marco Baggiolini’s involvement with the CSCS is limited to about two years. Baggiolini is retired and looks back on a long scientific career. He is an internationally recognised immunologist and was among other things the Director of the Theodor Kocher Institute. From 1996 to 2006 he was President and Rector of the University of Italian-speaking Switzerland. He will be responsible primarily for personnel matters, customer contacts and external relations with politicians and the institutions of higher education. Marie-Christine Sawley will look after international relations, as well as the technical and scientific management of the Supercomputing Centre.CSCS remains in Manno
On Monday 26 February 2007 Konrad Osterwalder also referred to the Swiss Federal Council’s Statement on the Promotion of Research, Education and Innovation 2008 – 2011 in which Manno is expressly mentioned as the national supercomputing centre. By saying this he countered a fear widely held in Ticino that the CSCS might be moved to Zurich. The Statement also firmly establishes that the machine currently leading the supercomputing field, of which there is only one in the whole of Switzerland, is to be located in Manno and that the CSCS will be operated from ETH Zurich as hitherto. Against this backdrop, according to Osterwalder, substantial investments are in the pipeline to implement the national strategy in the field of “High Performance Computing” (around 150 million Swiss francs for the period 2008 - 2011).