A Vision for Information Technology

at the University of Vermont

December 14, 1993


A cooperative effort of
The Division of Libraries & Media Services and
The Division of Computing & Information Technology


Although this document originated in the Division of Computing and Information Technology(CIT), it is not intended to be a planning document for CIT alone, but for information resources and technology at UVM in general. Therefore it solicits the input of many University constituencies. In particular this document is being co-authored by Libraries and Media Services since their role is so central to the provision and support of information resources technology at UVM.

General Comments and Use of terms.

Executive Summary

  1. UVM 2000 -- A Vision for Information Technology at the University of Vermont
  2. Mission Statement
  3. Goals and Objectives
    1. To enhance scholarship, research, teaching and learning.
    2. To provide and support operational information systems.
    3. To provide leadership in coordinating the use of information technology for the UVM community.
    4. To make the benefits of information technology available, accessible and easy to use for all, regardless of academic discipline or job function.
    5. To use information technology to enhance productivity and cost efficiency.
    6. To develop and foster collaboration, partnership and associations with students, faculty, staff and the community at large.
  4. Technology Plans & Choices
  5. Budgetary Implications

General comments

Like the President's Commission on Critical Choices (PCCC) draft planning document, it is important to point out "what this report is not may be as important as what it is." It is not a budget document, it does not prescribe specific organizational changes, and it does not specify exactly how goals will be met. Again, quoting from the PCCC document: "Answers to these questions must come later. Rather, it represents a context for discussing the issues most important to us."

As the document has evolved, the voice of the document has shifted from a CIT point of view to a more inclusive discussion of information resource and technology needs at UVM. Based upon feedback to date, it is apparent that this has created some confusion. The intent is to describe what needs to be accomplished, not to specify who will provide particular services and facilities. In the subsequent drafts this inconsistency must be addressed. We welcome your input.

Use of Terms

In a field that is so cluttered with jargon and acronyms, it is sometimes challenging to discuss ideas and plans without using technical terminology. Furthermore ordinary words sometimes take on special meanings, and even people in the field do no always agree on what every term connotes. While we have strived to avoid the use of technical jargon, some terminology will be defined at the outset so that the particular usage and the spirit of the document is clear:


Information technology
This term is used throughout this document to cover all technologies that support the storage, retrieval, analysis and communication of information -- computers, software, networking, telephony and other technologies. At various times it is used to describe many related technologies,including instructional technology, electronic communications, knowledge-based problem solving, and databases.

Open Access

Herein is a great deal of emphasis upon "open access" to information. The removal of artificial and technological barriers to information access in no way implies that the necessary security or guaranties of privacy would not be maintained in this otherwise open environment. Detailed discussions of what is private and how privacy and security are maintained are beyond the scope of this document.
This term that has recently come to take on special meaning in the information technology and "total quality management" trade press. In the information technology context, reengineering implies more than just taking an existing system and automating it, or moving it to a more contemporary computing system. It implies re-examining the entire process, from end to end, including the customer, the information media and transport, the computing information system and the human service providers. The goals of such a reengineering process are to completely rethink and redesign our information processes in order to improve service, lower costs and enhance revenue (enrollments, grants, etc.). In many cases reengineering will result in changes to the systems but also to the jobs that support those systems.


Executive Summary

This being the first working draft of a vision for information technology at UVM, we fully expect the details to evolve as we benefit from the wisdom and ideas of our coworkers and associates. The review process, like the vision itself, is predicated on openness and participation, and will benefit from our shared intelligence.

This vision is based on the following fundamental principles and persistent themes.


The Centrality of Our Mission, Goals and Objectives

It is far too easy, when dealing with the day-to-day challenges of both a rapidly changing technological world and obsolescent operational systems, to lose sight of our objectives. Before getting into organizational, technical, and budgetary issues, we describe our six basic goals and associated objectives. Our goals are in concert with and in support of the University mission, and our plans are derived from them. Everything we do must be directed towards the achievement of these objectives.

Openness, Accessibility and Friendliness

This thread runs throughout our plans: we intend to make information and information systems as accessible, efficient and easy-to-use as possible; our planning process will be open; our systems will be based upon open architectures to enable electronic compatibility and information exchange. Openness and participation are the keys to our plans.

Empowerment of our Coworkers and Clients

As the technology becomes ubiquitous and part of the fabric of life, it becomes more and more essential that everyone is empowered to exploit information technology.

Working Together  -- People working together

Our people and their information are UVM's most valuable assets. By creating an environment where people can work productively together, we multiply the value of their efforts, rather than dividing them. Like many universities, UVM has a highly decentralized organization. This has the clear advantage of empowering those closest to the task at hand to decide how to employ their resources and determine their own destiny. One the other hand there are liabilities: people and information can become isolated; redundancy increases costs; incompatibilities result in an inability to share information and other resources. By working together to enhance communications, build consensus and develop standards, we can avoid these pitfalls.

Working Together  -- Systems working together

Until quite recently to get the best information system tools, one had to select from a variety of incompatible proprietary systems. Because of the emergence of open standards which are being embraced by information systems customers and vendors alike, in the future we expect to be able choose the "best of breed" without introducing the "tower of Babel."

Change -- Reengineering, Reeducation, and Redeployment

Change is vital to our future success and vitality, not just change for change's sake, but managed change to substantially enhance our efficiency, effectiveness and service quality. Too often technology has been used to reinforce antiquated and inefficient manual processes. We must now reengineer the way we do things, reeducate ourselves and redeploy our human resources to best meet our objectives. If as an institution we can't do things effectively ourselves, how can we expect to be able to instruct others?

Change is not easy, and we must be sure that we are changing things for the better, but once we have established our direction, we must have the courage, energy, strength and conviction to stay the course.

Quality, Value, Productivity, Efficiency and Cost effectiveness

Information technology has substantial potential to optimize the quality and value of a UVM education and to enhance the productivity and efficiency of our work force, but that potential has not been consistently achieved. In order for this potential to be realized we must evaluate the use of technology in terms of the University mission, and most importantly, we must plan together for systems and people who can and will work together.


1. UVM 2000

A Vision for Information Technology at the University of Vermont

We envision in the next few years a university where secured access to information and information technology are available to students, faculty and staff from anywhere on or away from campus. Whether this access is used for teaching, research or service, it will become increasingly integrated and intuitive to use. Information technology will become an integrated and indispensable resource available and accessible to one and all.

Students, faculty, staff and the community at large will become as comfortable with information resources through information technology as we are today with twentieth century innovations like the telephone and the automobile -- hopefully more comfortable and fluent as our information systems become more friendly, more sophisticated, more ubiquitous, and most important, more intelligent.

Teaching, learning, scholarship, inquiry and service are the watchwords of the UVM mission. And, as we design the way information is created, stored and made available to all to fulfill this mission, our information systems will become more open, flexible, dynamic, secure and fault-tolerant. Barriers to access through multiple levels of interfaces and conversion routines will come down and these systems will be available at the points of client use and need.

The power to make use of information technology will be widely distributed to clients as they see fit. Such access will change the traditional boundaries of the campus and the workplace, if not class schedules and work hours. The traditional ways of doing business will keep changing in response to the ability to gain secured access to information technology from anywhere, and therefore the empowerment it bestows on students, faculty, staff and the community at large. Information technology has the promise to eliminate drudgery for both server and served, and if properly used the provision of services to our clients will become more efficient and satisfying.

Like books, computer systems are reservoirs of information and human intelligence. Unless these reservoirs are accessible and generally available, the information so stored has little or no value, or is useful only to an enfranchised few. Our campus systems will become more accessible through information technology, allowing people to interact with the information in varying ways to achieve their mission. Perhaps more important are the ways that information technology will allow people to interact with each other, serve our clients, exchange ideas, and collaborate efficiently.

Information resources available through information technology will also be greatly expanded and enhanced. Through international networks, a myriad of information resources from around the world will be easily accessible to students, faculty, and staff through information transfer and delivery in a networked environment.

The many and varied forms of information technology will be become increasingly commonplace as tools to enhance classroom instruction, presentation, lab work and the preparation of teaching materials. They will also be widely available outside the traditional classroom space as alternative means of instruction and a supplemental tool for learning and scholarship.

Information technology holds out the promise to enrich the educational experience for both student and faculty in ways yet to be decided or implemented. It can indeed free the faculty from some of the more mundane, though necessary tasks like record keeping and achievement tracking to devote more time to creativity, research and scholarship. Faculty will take the lead in determining what, when and how information technology will be used to the benefit of the mission of scholarship, teaching, research and service.

The trend in service and support functions is toward the creation, storage, analysis and presentation of greater and greater volumes of data and information. Since the amount of information available is expected grow tenfold (or more) and our mental abilities to absorb information are not, the access to information must not only be enabled, but must also be enhanced by intelligent searching tools that get us to the right information quickly and accurately, minimizing the time spent sifting through the irrelevant. Individual skill in knowledge access and management in an information technology environment will become critical to the entire academic endeavor. And while it is important to have unfettered access to information systems, it is even more important to ensure that the information so available has integrity, has a purpose and is an asset to the institution in fulfilling its mission.

Among the assets of the institution are its students, faculty, staff and the community at large, its information resources, its access pathways to that information and its reputation. Information technology will be used to add value to them by providing access to the information resources as needed, where needed and when needed.

As we struggle to define a world some seven years away, we can only guess about the technological breakthroughs and changes that will help get us there, to make our vision come true. Some of these changes could be computers of incredible power and storage capacity, yet minuscule by today's physical standards. These systems will be energy efficient, environmentally friendly, and omnipresent, yet invisible. They will become expert systems with untold capacity for storing information and intelligence, with far greater portability and scalability than is now contemplated. They will be more fault-tolerant, interchangeable, interoperable and long-lived, with most of the research and development effort being placed on intelligence-based software which will be truly portable through collaborative efforts on the part of developers and clients.

As we contemplate some of these technological changes, we must plan for the benefits that they promise. Such benefits could include the global library, one of quite a different shape and form as we know it today, one that offers a wealth of knowledge to those who are prepared to use it. We think of computers as storing intelligence, and we will add to this store by using it, hence the notion of an information engine, possibly with an intelligence of its own. We think of the ease of use, accessibility, productivity, efficiency and added value, but probably not measured by current criteria for such benefits.

The benefits that could accrue from technological changes boggle the imagination. We can be sure that some changes will come at a fast pace, much faster than we have seen in the past. We are seeing major collaborative efforts on the part of hitherto independent developers and manufacturers, efforts which promise a stream of technology breakthroughs and innovation with untold benefits at an affordable cost. We need to be prepared for this changing culture and we need to make changes if we are to benefit from information technology. Some of these changes have been enumerated above, others are included in the goals and objectives set forth later on. The vision for the future is one of change and the ability to benefit from this change.

2. Mission Statement

Centers of relevant expertise throughout the University collaborate

to foster, support and lead the implementation of information technology

to help students, faculty and staff achieve their goals at UVM.

3. Goals and Objectives

Six goals are identified which will help make the UVM2000 vision for information technology a reality. Each goal is a statement of a broad desired direction for information technology to benefit the university community. In support of each goal is a rationale of why that goal is important; a set of implications of that goal; some assumptions which form the basis of the goal; and a list of specific objectives for implementing the goal.

These goals and their associated objectives are broad in scope and involve the entire university community rather than a specific division or unit. The premise is that the benefits of information and information technology will accrue in good measure only if we are jointly involved as partners in its implementation.

The objectives as listed are clearly meant to be supportive of the goals and do not intend to specify how they are to be achieved. Specific tasks, activities, hardware and software specifications, and other related budgetary implementations and boundaries will need to be developed to satisfy the objectives. Periodic review and synchronization with other strategic planning initiatives at the University will be on-going.

The six goals and their associated objectives follow.


GOAL #1 To enhance teaching, research, and scholarship.

Rationale: The education of students is the primary mission of the University. We need to teach the utilization and application of information technology, weave it across/into all curricula and ensure that faculty and students are prepared for information technology. There will continue to be changes in the roles of faculty vis-a-vis students, and vice versa.

Implications: The effective application of information technology has substantial benefit in recruiting and retaining student and faculty, enrollment management and the maintenance of academic excellence. Graduation rates and pursuit of graduate activities are also affected. A full complement of information skills is an essential component of UVM's preparation of students for the 21st century.

Assumptions: Information technology will continue to be a tool rather than an end in and of itself. Historically computers have been used in higher education primarily as a problem solving tool, but they will increasingly be used as a teaching tool and as a learning aid. Product life cycles are getting shorter and shorter to the point where hardware is becoming an expendable item rather than a capital asset. Incoming students are better computer prepared than ever before, while faculty computer competency is generally not progressing at the same rate as the first year student. Changes will continue to take place in the way we teach, learn and do business. Emphasis will be placed on quality rather than quantity. Faculty will provide teaching models for their colleagues.



  1. Equip classrooms, lecture halls, offices, laboratories and residential buildings with the best available information technology resources.
  2. Provide students and faculty with the opportunity and resources to use information technology from anywhere. In particular, there will be a greater need to have distance learning opportunities for all cross-sections of both faculty and students, and therefore different teaching modalities and techniques to exploit information technology.
  3. Ensure that remodeling and new building plans take the need for information technology into account.
  4. Develop appropriate support, encouragement and reward to faculty for implementing information technology into and across the curricula. This includes the development and use of courseware and multi-media as teaching modalities. Release time and instructional technology support are critical factors in these endeavors.
  5. Ensure that all students, disciplines and constituencies have access to and use of information technology.
  6. Develop real life projects for students as class assignments, ones that will engage students and could be of immediate use to the institution and possibly the community at large.
  7. Provide each student with a full complement of information skills essential to their academic performance at UVM and their future roles as members of the work force and as global citizens.
  8. Cultivate associations with funding providers and benefactors.
  9. Transfer results and apply them to teaching, learning and the world-at-large. Encourage innovation in teaching as a research endeavor.
  10. Foster collaboration with colleagues in other institutions and peer groups.
  11. Develop and maintain access to super-computing and related facilities for student and faculty use.


Goal #2 To provide and support operational information systems.

Rationale: These systems will be available not only to the traditional information custodians, but also to those who create and may later use such information in various forms and formats. Disparate systems will become integrated or at least appear to be seamless, with secured access to such data items. Access will be available as needed from wherever the client deems appropriate within normal security and privacy constraints.

Implication: We need to be resilient in adding to our store of data for further use as well as making good use of the current store of data. This will require adequate and clear forethought if we have to continue to be efficient. We need to provide not only accountability and stewardship of data, but also the smooth flow of management information.

Assumption: There will be increasing requirements for data recording, processing and reporting from within the institution and from external agencies, and for varying reasons. Barriers to free exchange of information are gradually coming down, thus making security and stewardship critical functions.

We will be expected to do more with less. In some areas, more computing may alleviate this situation. Personnel additions will be few and far between, and position responsibilities will need to be redefined.

Client-server techniques will allow us to gain the full benefit from low-cost, "friendly" microcomputer interfaces and distributed databases while retaining the organization and coordination associated with non-redundant databases and enterprise-level business applications.


  1. Develop systems using non-proprietary platforms and open standards.
  2. Seek to re-engineer systems and train staff in both client and support areas.
  3. Implement secured access from anywhere.
  4. Develop and deliver training workshops to train the trainer.
  5. Refocus position responsibilities in client and support areas.
  6. Implement tools for relational databases, non-proprietary systems, open access, development tools for both client and computing, distributed access and data entry, presentation tools, and reduction of paper and paper handling.
  7. Redefine traditional, established procedural ways of service delivery to make it better for the client served.

Goal #3

To facilitate leadership in the coordination and use of information technology for the UVM community.

Rationale: Information technology is a resource that needs to be managed, coordinated, implemented and renewed if it is to provide the benefits we expect. The roles of centers of relevant expertise throughout the University, e.g. EMBA-CF, the Academic Medical Center, CIT and the Libraries and Media Services will be to foster, support and lead the implementation of information technology at UVM to help students, faculty and staff achieve their mission and goals. Many units will pioneer new information technology, and the role of all areas will be one of collaboration, initiative, sharing, support and coordination.

Implication: To achieve the benefits expected, information technology must be implemented in a timely, coordinated, friendly way. Some information technology resources, identified as infrastructure or entitlement, may be appropriately funded jointly or on a cost recovery basis.

Assumptions: The new developments in information technology are moving so quickly that some are obsolete before they can be applied. As a result there must be a leadership point where coordination and encouragement rather than fiat are the watchwords.

Mutual trust needs to be built to take advantage of the availability of information technology in the face of declining fiscal resources.



  1. Provide an open door, frank environment for discussion.
  2. Develop and maintain facilities where exploration and testing can take place without upsetting the teaching, research and production environments, but where there is some assurance that results are relevant to the information technology needs of students, faculty, staff and the community at large.
  3. Provide the training and support to help others develop information technology in their areas.
  4. Help others do planning and cooperative budgeting for the implementation of information technology in their areas.
  5. Enable consensus, discussion and thorough sharing of information, needs, and plans, to assure that campus-wide standards are developed and implemented.
  6. Develop and sustain planning and budgeting for the continued availability of information technology to the UVM community in a changing environment.
  7. Assist others in assessing their needs for information resources and design appropriate services to meet those needs.
  8. Find acceptable recycling avenues for less-than-contemporary information technology resources.

Goal #4

To make the benefits of information technology available, accessible and easy to use for all, regardless of academic discipline or job function.

Rationale: There will be open secured access to information systems to all who have the need. Such access will be secure and preserve the confidentiality of information.

Implications: Barriers to the free exchange of information must be broken down so that the wealth of data, captured and stored both locally and remotely, can be effectively used. There will be a need to reexamine traditional ideas as to who owns data and how it is used, since those who generate and create data may not be the ultimate architects or users of knowledge-based systems. The implementation of multi-media and mixed-media will become commonplace, raising the need to support high-speed traffic on existing physical cable plant.

Assumptions: Life style, work arrangements, physical locations and more flexibility in choices of work will become the standard and will require varying budget formulae and policies to support creative work and personal arrangements.


  1. Enable all clients and disciplines to have a stake in the benefits of information technology.
  2. Develop and refine training and work sessions for all to participate in the benefits of information technology.
  3. Place information technology resources everywhere they are needed -- in classrooms, labs, client offices, at home, and on the road.
  4. Take advantage of emerging networking technologies to extend the life of the existing physical cable plant for information distribution.
  5. Utilize information technology to improve access to information for differently abled clients and ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  6. Assure that incoming students, faculty and staff who are not computer literate get the help they need to be able to benefit from information technology at UVM.

Goal #5

To use information technology to enhance productivity and cost efficiency.

Rationale: The use of information technology to assist us in our work must be clearly thought out, planned for and implemented to ensure that we build an efficient and easy-to-use information systems.

Implication: There is a need to reduce the complexity and level of expertise needed to use the technology and, at the same time, increase the level of information and knowledge both of the system implementers and clients of the new information technology.

Assumption: The effective implementation of computer and information automation has the potential to improve our productivity and relieve us and our clients of drudgery. Unfortunately, not all computer-automated tasks have resulted in the anticipated advances. In some cases, the primary consequence has been an increase in skill levels necessary to perform the function without attendant gains in productivity or cost efficiencies.


  1. Review, evaluate and improve the over-arching procedures that provide and support multi-functional, coordinated services to the students, faculty, staff and the community at large.
  2. Design, install, support, maintain and enhance the networking infrastructure for the UVM community on a cost-effective basis for all clients.
  3. Foster, plan and encourage the use of electronic means of communications to augment more traditional modes and enhance the experience for students, faculty, staff and the community at large.
  4. Identify projects with the greatest benefit and the best return on investment within reasonable financial constraints.
  5. Enlist the knowledge and participation of the University community in order to ensure the effectiveness of information technology implementations.

Goal #6

To develop and foster collaboration, partnership and associations with students, faculty, staff and the community at large.

Rationale: The need for financial resources to develop and implement the benefits of information technology will continue to increase in response to demands for such services from all segments of the University community. The availability of those financial resources will decline in real amounts. Further, there will be a need to be responsive to the fast-paced release of technology breakthroughs which tend to render our investments obsolete quite rapidly.

Implications: Without collaborative efforts and planning, less than optimal solutions will be put in place if each constituent pursues its own course. While well intentioned, the client base suffers from less than acceptable services with high price tags and inability to retrace one's steps without discarding significant investment. There will be the tendency to re-invent the wheel, to protect one's turf and to sub-optimize by looking at solutions which benefit a small part of the client base without thought for the over-arching constructs that should be in place to provide services to our students, faculty, staff and the community at large. In addition, barriers to commonly needed resources will occur.

Assumptions: The rate of change will accelerate, particularly in areas like multi-media applications, production and reliability of chip sets, transmissions speeds on existing cable plant, redundancy of systems and collaboration towards open standards.


  1. Develop and identify cooperative funding arrangements for providing the financial resources to support information technology and its benefits to all.
  2. Develop specific partnerships with K-12, the State Colleges, private colleges, interactive TV, medical community, library systems, and state service providers.
  3. Develop and nurture associations with the private sector and for-profit groups who can help move information technology along the road of benefit to all who need it, but yet have a pay-back for these entities.
  4. Set up and listen to the findings of appropriate advisory boards and committees.
  5. Support the use of colloquia, conferences and symposia in order to understand requirements and bring cooperative work and resources to bear on those needs.
  6. Seek advice and direction in the form of focus-on-the-future working sessions.
  7. Identify external and internal sources of funding.
  8. Develop a means to pass on and transfer the results of projects and technology itself.
  9. Coordinate with statewide agencies and information service providers in the development of a statewide networking project

5. Technology Plans & Technology Choices

Too often technology choices are made upon a parochial basis. We develop loyalties to certain vendors, platforms, languages, tools or interfaces -- or mere extensions of an existing technological base. This is not necessarily inappropriate -- it's natural to be hesitant of the unfamiliar and to choose that with which we are familiar. In general we will be more productive when we choose a tool we have learned to use well, but from time to time, we must consider the alternatives on a rational and objective basis. This is especially critical since the choices we make affect an entire institution and its culture for many a year to come.

One of the most vital things we all do is to make technological choices. There are three major pitfalls in making such choices:

  1. Mindless decisions: both those made on the basis of habit -- "the way it has always been done" or on the basis of the latest fad -- "it's new, everyone is doing it" without regard to suitability.
  2. A dearth of decisions because of "analysis paralysis" or an excess of changing and inconsistent decisions.
  3. Decisions based upon available technology rather than the needs of the clients or program; programs needs should drive technology decisions rather than technological choices driving program decisions.

We will not always be able to predict what the technological winners will be let alone what new technologies will emerge. While this makes our jobs challenging, it will not prevent us from establishing strategic directions and principles that will help us make technical judgments when we are faced with subsequent tactical decision points.

Every day we have additional attractive alternatives. It is easy to spend more time shopping for solutions than implementing them. More and more frequently our choices will be deciding what projects, though worthwhile, will not be undertaken, rather than across-the-board reductions in funding all projects.

The technological choices we make are intended to"make the leap," instead of just "retuning" the old ways. We plan not to just figure out how we can do what we are doing now in an enhanced way, but in a fundamentally different and clearly superior way.

Consequently we intend to employ the following technological stratagems in order to meet our goals:

1. Networking -- Campus network connections and microcomputers for all

Networking is the foundation for our information technology plans. Virtually all of our other plans will rely upon having a ubiquitous, reliable and high-performance campus network with connections to the global network.

2. Open access to institutional information

This is not truly a technology, but a philosophy with technical implications. By choosing to make information more accessible we place a greater burden upon the technical parts of our information systems that assure that privacy and integrity continue to be maintained. To make this work we will have to have robust systems for assuring authenticity and authority of access. The challenge, of course,will be to allow appropriate access, maintain necessary confidentiality without unnecessarily burdening ourselves and our customers with cumbersome access procedures and disruptive password changes.

3. Open systems architecture

Open systems architecture and related standards have become widely accepted by the industry. Though these systems are not necessarily better than the proprietary systems they replace, their standardization is the key to our success. Because of the amount of support and investment they are receiving from the industry and educational institutions, they will eventually be clearly superior to the systems they replace, while hopefully retaining their "open" benefits.

4. Gateway and Delivery of Remote Information Resources

International networks enhance access to information in full-text and bibliographic forms from systems around the world. Fast and convenient transfer and delivery of information identified in these systems will be necessary to realize their full potential.

5. Electronic mail for all

Communication is vital to our success. The routine use of electronic mail will be essential to rapid, low-cost, efficient communication among students, faculty and staff at UVM and with the global university.

6. Electronic data interchange

The use of electronic data interchange will enable us to migrate away from the avalanche of paper forms and traditional computer printed reports. We must build information systems that no longer rely upon the physical transportation of paper documents around campus.

7. Client-server architecture

This architecture will allow us to take advantage of the low-cost easy-to-use microcomputers while maintaining the organizational and management benefits of an institutional information repository.

8. A well-designed information engine

Our future information systems must be streamlined so that they are more useful to our end users. Students, faculty and staff should be able to use the campus network or a telephone to interface directly with an information automaton. Rather than submitting paper documents which in themselves have no intelligence or ability to detect errors, our clients will deal directly with a helpful, forgiving and easy-to-use information engine. This engine will establish the authority and information associations of the client, permitting inquiry and, where appropriate, initiation of business transactions or modification of information. Such a system will break the cycle of writing information on paper, transporting the paper to another person who must review it, return it if errors are found, subsequently enter it into a computer that will eventually print a confirmation that the desired action was, or was not, taken. A well designed information engine will provide a substantially improved service to our students, faculty and staff while reducing institutional costs for administration.

9. Standard supported solutions

This is a philosophy that can help us use technology effectively. While many of us wish to be able to make our own independent technological decisions, we also recognize the costs and risks associated with the selection of incompatible and unsupported technologies. Without undue constraint of anyone's freedom to choose their own tools, we intend to work together to build consensus and establish standard supported solutions. Standard solutions should reduce costs, improve compatibility among systems, and ease electronic communication and sharing of information resources. These standard solutions are not to be imposed centrally but adopted as a result of many people finding them to be effective.

6. Budgetary Implications

Our choices of funding and cost recovery methods will influence what services are provided, how they are provided and when they are provided. We must choose to fund information technology in ways that do not defeat the intended purpose and benefits of the technology. The following are general thoughts which may be appropriate to bear in mind when the tactical plans are developed from the strategic goals and objectives:


Appendix A Possible Strategic Targets

A clearly articulated mission with objectives is necessary to focus our efforts and keep us on track -- especially in a technical field where there is always the risk of losing sight of our goals as we concentrate on the technology. On the other hand, we will also lay out some important and specific targets that we would potentially like to achieve -- and when we might be able to complete them. These are not intended to be rigid; in fact we fully expect them to change, perhaps substantially. Nonetheless they are necessary to lend some specificity to our vision and to stimulate some discussion of what projects can and should be planned. In most cases the goals indicate the benefits we would ideally expect to achieve. Our estimates may be both optimistic and ambitious. There will be many barriers, such as time, money, and the pace of technology, that could compromise or delay the full achievement of these benefits. The chronology below is a starting point and hopefully conveys a clearer picture of how we could make our vision a reality. Indeed, it sets forth specific targets in a specific time frame which could become the basis for budget development and tactical planning.

The tactical planning themes will include:

The chronological targets are set forth below as forecasts rather than fact:














Appendix B Description of prospective technologies


Verifying the identity (authenticity) of the person requesting access to a resource. For example, in the case of an automated teller system (ATM) this is accomplished with the combination of a bank card and a personal identification number (PIN). Traditional computer access has been authenticated with an account name and password only. This is not regarded as secure in a non-encrypted network environment.


In a computing context client/server implies that the information or other resource needed in one system resides in another. This technology is commonly used to allow the desktop computer (client) to provide the human interface while requesting services from a central computer (server). This approach makes the effective use of the "friendly" and low-cost interfaces possible using microcomputers while retaining the consistency, control and communications benefits of the network and central computers ("servers" or "host computers"). This technology also encompasses other implementations, such as "X-windows" where the desktop interface is considered the interface server for a host application.


The exploitation of otherwise unused network-attached computing resources to provide an aggregate super-computing capability.

Information associations

The information that person or entity should have access to, e.g. the Dean should have access to the students in her college; a professor should have access to list of students in her classes; the advisor should have access to the records of their student advisees; the student should have view access to her own grades.

Information engine

This is more of a concept than a technology. The information technology that we design and deploy to meet the information and business needs of the University should use the network to form a cohesive seamless information environment. The "engine" will assure that information is automatically electronically routed to where and to whom it should go; access and updating of information will automatically be authenticated such that data integrity and the necessary privacy are assured. Information access and ordinary interactions with the University, like course registration, issuing purchase orders, interdepartmental charges and budget preparation, will be performed electronically.

Open access

Not to be confused with open systems, this implies that institutional data is accessible (while maintaining normal confidentiality requirements) by faculty, students and staff who need it. For example, students should be able to view their own records through the campus network.

Open systems

Non-proprietary systems adhering to public or widely accepted standards. Unix systems and some of their derivatives are examples. The advantages of these systems are: