Reply To: Communication, Collaboration, and Community


Hi Cindy,

I think there are good arguments for and against centralization, and I don’t believe there is a clear “right” answer. On the other hand, I believe both models are entirely capable of success as long as the community is engaged and involved in making it work and has some sense of common purpose. Given the President’s directive to implement the TIG report and the centralized model it recommends, my personal responsibility is to support that initiative in a way that doesn’t compromise the quality we have delivered over the years.

I have enjoyed the connection to purpose that the decentralized model has provided, and have had the pleasure to work in a very supportive environment with many talented staff who are passionate about serving faculty and students. It is these relationships and connection to mission that have made our technical services meaningful, and it is these qualities that we must preserve to the best of our abilities through the transition.

You make good points in calling out the excellent work that collaborative working groups have accomplished over the years. I am optimistic that these restructuring efforts represent a return to that level of shared engagement on initiatives of mutual benefit, and I am appreciative of Duane and Brian for the extraordinary communication and outreach that they are engaged in to steer us in that direction. The model I see proposed, is actually quite similar to the recommendation that college / academic IT managers and directors gave to Ratnakar when he came to campus.

From what I have seen, the School of Law provides excellent service to its constituency, and has devised ways to meet the differentiated service needs of its faculty and staff. I wouldn’t characterize the School of Law as an area full of problems that need fixing. Rather, I believe that the School of Law has significant expertise and specialized knowledge that it can contribute to the larger organization, and I look forward to working with you all in whatever way my initiatives can align with and support yours. Reporting structures aside, the IT Officer model seems designed to create the kind of collaborative community of technical professionals that you cite, and an extension of the good work that the Academic IT group has been involved in over the summer. From that perspective, I am optimistic.

It is certainly a realistic and pragmatic approach for the School of Law to watch and see how these initial efforts go. I also think that there are real benefits that the School of Law can realize through participation (both informal initial collaboration, and perhaps later integration). One of area of benefit that comes to mind is the access to a greater depth of staffing resources. We have all had the occasion when a critical employee is ill, takes another job, or simply wishes to take some extended leave. One benefit I see from the larger organization is more resiliency in the staffing of our services. The other significant benefit I see is more continuity of services across organizational lines, and more awareness of and alignment between central services and distributed support. More awareness of how the services my team manages align with the greater university needs and initiatives is a good thing.

While there is always room for improvement in all of our areas, there is also much more that is right with what we are doing than the TIG report states. With Central IT in particular, I have seen consistent focus on continuous improvement initiatives, with positive results in many areas. As Duane and Brian have said, we have deep technical expertise on campus with very dedicated employees in all areas. I am looking forward to the opportunities for collaboration and growth as we move ahead. We all have much to learn from each other, and I believe faculty, staff, and students will be the beneficiaries if we do this right.