University Computing Study Committee Final Report

Overall Summary

The Committee on University Computing has met for the past six weeks with the task of proposing a structure for computing and information technology that will allow us to maximize the usefulness of our current computing resources and prepare us for the future.

In dealing with the questions raised by this charge, the Committee found that it needed to address a wide variety of issues with respect to computing. Perhaps the most important of these issues is the need for a campus-wide network, which will form the base on which future developments will build. This network will address important issues with respect to distributed computing, and will play a role in helping us to make better using of computers and information technology in the classroom. We have highlighted the need to integrate changes in information technology into the way we teach, and made some suggestions as to what steps need to be taken to bring that about. We also focused on the need to provide increased training for faculty and staff. The Committee was struck by what appears to be a sense of cooperation among the various units on campus that deal with computing and information, and urge a structure that will allow that cooperation to continue. We heard from a wide variety of people about the need for the University to adopt a set of standards on what hardware and software will be supported, especially with regard to networking. Finally, we addressed the issue of planning. There does not now appear to be any central plan with respect to either computing or information technology, and we see the development of such planning to be a major activity of the person we hire.

With respect to the position in question, we recommend the appointment of a Director of Computing and Information Technology. We further urge serious consideration to having this person have dual lines of reporting, reporting both to the Provost and to the Administrative Vice President. It is not too extreme to say that an important part of the future of this university depends upon how we blend information, data communications, computing, administrative functions, and, most importantly, teaching. We are well behind many institutions with which we are familiar, and with which UVM compares itself, and we must make important decisions now as to where we are going and how we will get there. The person that we seek to fill this position will have an important role to play in those decisions and their implementation. Above all, it is our view that the most important qualification for the person we seek is the ability to work effectively with people to coordinate and manage the changes that must come.

Full report