We have a new IT governance committee* on our campus, thanks to lots of arm-twisting by the CIO, and some (ongoing) redefining of the faculty senate’s information technology committee. (For background, see these two pdfs.) What’s interesting about this committee is that it brings together . . . everyone. Faculty are represented, as well as student affairs, but so are HR, and admissions, and facilities, and the registrar, and the police. Students, too. The idea of the committee is that all of these groups consume IT resources (bandwidth, sweet sweet bandwidth, but also money/time/people), but there hasn’t been a formal process for articulating their concerns with one another. It’s been more or less up to the CIO to decide who gets what–that’s not shared governance, as he constantly reminds us.
The first meeting was today, and it was . . . fascinating. First, just from a geek point of view it was interesting to hear about all the different projects going on, and also to hear straight talk about budgets and such. Second, it was interesting to learn about shared gripes. For example, faculty–especially part-timers–frequently complain that we don’t support automatic forwarding of university e-mail. HR also hates this, because it’s hard for them to communicate reliably with our (ginormous) population of part-time faculty.
Finally, it was also interesting to hear about different constituencies’ interests in particular topics/technologies, and to think about the ripple effect changes in one domain might have in another. (For example, campus police is interested in GIS, to provide information to first-responders who might not know the campus; we should be certain to coordinate with, for example, the Geography department. If approx. 80% of our students have a web-capable phone, and we’re upgrading our security cameras across campus, shouldn’t we investigate software that lets students see the cameras in public spaces? If all those students have smartphones, does *every* classroom have to be a smart one? &c. [Note that none of these were discussed formally today. If they were, it’s not at all clear I could voice them here.])
In this vale of tears, I’m sure that the committee will often be frustrating or contentious–after all, everyone wants their project funded first, and these are not exactly flush times for a regional comprehensive state university. But it is an interesting idea, and the last part of today’s meeting was awesome, in a way committee meetings rarely are.
*And of course I’m chair. Criminy–I’m on four committees this year, and am chair of every last cotton-pickin’ one of ’em. In this instance, it’s probably helpful that a faculty member chair the committee.