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Planning & Budget: Technology

Draft Minutes of the UWM Council on Information Technology

December 20, 2002

Attendance

Leslie Schulz (who was also representing John Wanat), Don Melkus, Stanley Battle, Tom Luljak, Darrell Radson for Susan Kelly, Allen Bell and ex-officio members Joe Douglas, Mike Rupp, John McCarragher and guest David Stack (reporting)

Minutes

The minutes of the last meeting of November 30, 2002 were distributed. In the future, CIT Meetings will be held more frequently, perhaps every other month. As reminders, the following materials from the last meeting were distributed again:

  • The charter of the CIT charter (also available at cio.uwm.edu)

  • The charter of the proposed Office of Information Technology, which is slated to be announced in the UWM Report in February. Its structure is based on the 2001 campuswide IT Review (see www.uwm.edu/Dept/Acad_Aff/ITReview/).

Draft Policies

The CIT discussed three draft policies.

ePantherID Policy

The ePantherID policy was first discussed last year. It proposes to assign everyone on campus an ePantherID (more commonly known as an @uwm.edu email address). Students currently get ePantherIDs automatically when they come to UWM, but not faculty or staff. New ePantherIDs will be "opaque" (not obviously related to a person's real name), but those who already have @uwm.edu addresses would keep their existing ones. In addition, everyone will be able to choose their own "vanity" email address if they wish. The other three IT committees have also seen this proposal. I&MT is proceeding in these directions as the proposed policy is discussed.

The CIT asked for clarification regarding which email address(es) would be published in the faculty/staff directory. The committee also asked about the potential downsides of such a policy, which include:

  • The ID that people will use to log into various systems wouldn't be intuitively derived from their real name.

  • The vanity email addresses would not be reused after their owners leave the University.

Wireless Network Policy

There currently is not a University wireless policy. A proliferation of insecure and nonstandard wireless LAN devices could ultimately compromise the campus backbone network. The purposes of the proposed policy are to:

  • assert that the University has control over its airspace, which is a shared resource

  • authorize I&MT to create and if necessary, enforce standards for wireless network usage

Although there are some official wireless networks on campus, e.g., in the AUP building, the concern is that a proliferation of wireless devices purchased for under $100 at office supply stores and installed casually could provide unauthenticated access to the campus network and the Internet.

The CIT approved the draft of the policy and recommended that all wireless policies be developed with a ten year vision. Darrell Radson noted it was recommended at the previous Friday's townhall meeting on the budget situation that wireless laptops could provide students with an alternative to the Campus Computer Labs (CCLs) that would improve access and reduce cost. Joe Douglas expressed the view that there would always be a need for at least a few CCLs, supplemented by students carrying the next generation of wireless PDAs.

Leslie Schulz inquired if there was a process for determining which classrooms will receive wireless networking. Although there is no process at present, an important consideration is making it possible to separate the instructor's bandwidth from that of the students, which argues for continuing to provide wired access for the instructor's podium.

Joe Douglas will review the proposed policy with the other IT committees.

Faculty IT Ombudsman Proposal

The CIT and ITPC previously discussed I&MT's proposal for the creation of an IT Faculty Ombudsman position. In May 2002, the ITPC recommended that the University:

  • Start with one ombudsman serving a two or three year term.
  • Make the ombudsman position part time rather than full time.
  • Fund the position with a course buyout at replacement cost.
  • After a year, evaluate whether a second ombudsman is needed.

Allen Bell said that the CPC, and later the ITPC, had discussed various options, including ITPC members serving informally in such a role.

The committee wondered what exactly the role of the ombudsman would be and how many complaints there are. Joe Douglas reported that the number of complaints has declined sharply in the last few years, nevertheless he is interested in getting a voice from the faculty through a person that faculty are comfortable approaching. He would like to give faculty an avenue to express concerns not only about technology provided by I&MT, but also other units on campus, which may be closed communities where it is more difficult to speak up. In addition, I&MT sometimes hears feedback and questions from a pedagogical perspective that are difficult for its technical staff to appreciate.

Darrell Radson said that he would prefer to deal directly with I&MT instead of through an ombudsman. An alternative is to separate the CIO from I&MT so that Joe Douglas may be deemed more approachable. Meanwhile, budgetary realities argue against going forward at this time. Therefore, the proposal was put on hold.

IT Status Reports

A packet of one page status reports for various active IT projects was distributed. A similar packet was recently distributed to the other three IT committees.

Software standards

The standards effort has made great progress in publicizing a list of agreed upon basic software standards. The next steps will be to determine a process for adding and removing software from the list, as well as from the public and private computer labs on campus.

IBM Mainframe

The IBM mainframe retires tomorrow. The user interface will be taken down tonight.

Microsoft Contract Renewal

Microsoft is not interested in negotiating with the UW System. They are offering two choices, lease versus purchase, which may cost 3 - 5 times what we are paying now. Student home use rights will likely be discontinued as a cost saving measure. Students will then have to pay standard academic discount pricing, instead of the nominal fee they pay now.

If there is sufficient demand, alternatives for funding student licenses campuswide would include segregated fees or Educational Technology Fees. There has already been talk within the UW System for increasing the Educational Technology Fee. The question always becomes, should it be either a user fee or a "tax" like the student buss pass?

The committee asked Joe Douglas to investigate how many UWM students are currently purchasing home use rights and what might it cost students in the future to buy individual copies for themselves. The participation by UWM students might be relatively small. On the other hand, there might be increased pressure on the Campus Computer Labs if student home use rights are no longer available.

The committee inquired if there are viable alternatives alternatives to Microsoft. Joe Douglas reported that there are a few upcoming products in the marketplace, e.g., SUN StarOffice, but there are no solid alternatives at this time.

Inevitably, a contract of some kind will be signed with Microsoft. Funding for the Microsoft license is reallocated from unit budgets into a Central Software Fund.

PantherCal

PantherCal is up and running. Anyone on campus can sign up to use it any time they choose.

PantherMail

A new version of PantherMail was put up in the summer, but it is not yet recommended for the needs of every faculty and staff member. However, many faculty and staff are using it successfully. A new version will brought out prior to the spring semester.

PantherPrint

Joe Douglas has received no complaints about PantherPrint since the semester started. The Student Association has not been willing to meet to talk about the future of PantherPrint. Nevertheless, they have been apprised about the progress with PantherPrint via email. The red card program for paying in advance for unlimited printing is being abused, and it will not be continued in its current form.

OASIS

Allen Bell noted that using PAWS for grading and classlists is problematic, e.g., one faculty member is not able to download a classlist into Excel on their office computer even though they can do so from home. Representatives from DES came to the person's office and verified the problem. Faculty have reported that they cannot print out their grade sheets. Furthermore, after the drop deadline, the classlist doesn't change, i.e., it doesn't reflect those who "drop late". Joe Douglas suggested that people report their problems to the Campus Solution Center (help@uwm.edu, x4040) so that the resolutions of issues such as these get tracked.

UWM Portal

A campus portal project has begun. Given the price of the Epicentric portal engine, other products have been investigated that may cost half the price or less. A workshop will be held on campus in early 2003. A portal environment will help the University move away from homegrown code in the UWM website and provide better interfaces to Enrollment Services and other systems.

OASIS Version 8

The current version of OASIS is 7.6. The software will be upgraded to version 8.0 which will run entirely in a web environment and is almost entirely supported by PeopleSoft code, rather than locally written code.

University Website

The top three layers of the University website have been redesigned, and are undergoing revision. The server that runs the current website is old and faltering. Meanwhile, the campus is relying almost solely on the www.uwm.edu URL for its advertising and marketing. There are two choices:

  1. replace the current web server for $100,000
  2. install a Content Management System (CMS) and move the UWM website to the Cold Fusion environment, also for about $100,000

The technical recommendation is to not replicate the current website, but to install a CMS so that people can use ordinary office productivity tools to maintain their web content. Mike Rupp said that the funding would have to come from the $450K I&MT received for new projects, or else from I&MT's current resources.

IT Review Report Card

The 2001 campuswide IT Review (see www.uwm.edu/Dept/Acad_Aff/ITReview/) yielded many pages of specific suggestions and recommendations. A report card was distributed that indicates the current status of each item and who is responsible for follow-up. Almost every recommendation is either completed, or part of an ongoing process that has been improved. In the spring, a new report will be created.

New Projects

Computer Acquisition Program

A proposal is under development to redo the Computer Acquisition Program (CAP) and acquire more computers for the same amount of money by having the Provost contribute the full cost of a robust, "base" computer unit instead of a percentage of the total cost of any computer. L&S is currently piloting this model for purchases made with both CAP and non-CAP funds.

Non Credit Course Administration System

A PeopleSoft system is available for administering non credit courses, but it would draw upon considerable resources from those who are already engaged in the version 8 upgrade (see above). Bruce Maas has been discussing the situation with Darrell Radson and Kathy Clark of the School of Continuing Education. The legacy system uses a proprietary database that has has serious problems, and a replacement of some kind is necessary. In the short term, they are looking to use the First Logic software to clean up the corrupted data.

Procurement Approval Guidelines

Joe Douglas is working on new procurement approval guidelines and will present a draft at a future meeting. His goal is to delegate authority as appropriate and still be aware of campuswide investments in media and technology

Data Center

A graphic representation of the 150+ pieces of equipment in the Data Center, the University's main computer room, was distributed. The old Alpha computers are are gradually being replaced.