Duke ITAC - May 9, 1996 Minutes

Information Technology Advisory Committee


May 9, 1996

The Information Technology Advisory Committee met on May 9, 1996, at the Washington Duke Hotel. The meeting was called to order by Chairman Robert Wolpert. The review of the previous minutes was waived until receipt.


Betty Le Compagnon announced that the Remote Access Subcommittee has been formed and that Bob Currier was in the process of arranging a time for that committee's first meeting.

Betty Le Compagnon announced that the Mac computers removed from the public computing clusters are soon to be place on sale. No details were available regarding the specific models or numbers of machines. She requested that anyone with suggestions regarding possible buyers should contact her.

Mike Pickett announced that the Systems Integration Coordinating Committee (SICC) had recently met. Updates from SICC will be reported to ITAC in order to maintain communication between the two bodies.

Student Letters

Ginny Cake reported on the status of letters to be mailed to incoming Duke students regarding recommended computing hardware. A mailing during the week of June 3 had been targeted. Work has been on-going with Harry DeMiks office to develop an information packet regarding student computer recommendations. Some modifications to the draft presented were anticipated.

Ginny reported that Scott Seaman had inquired whether or not it would be suitable to change the minimum requirements for MACs to a 90 MHz model with a 500 Mb disk drive in order to take advantage of a $400 savings compared to the recommended configuration. The question was raised for discussion.

Melissa Mills raised two issues:

  • Why reduce the standards on only the MAC, and leave the Intel-based PCs at their current, higher level of performance? And,
  • The MAC in question is an old model being closed out. Why should we recommend that incoming students, preparing for a four-year program, purchase a machine at the end of its product life?
Ginny Cake commented that the 90 MHz configuration was perhaps all right for someone bringing an existing machine to campus, but perhaps it should not be recommended to someone who is about to purchase a new machine.

Betty Le Compagnon asked if we could point readers to the WWW to review an on-line document before purchasing. That way, the specs and recommendations could be updated over time. Ginny Cake agreed to add the URL for the site to the letter.

Discussion centered on modifying the language slightly in the letter to clarify the rationale behind purchasing a machine with the recommended specifications, to better assist readers in making an appropriate choice. It was decided not to reduce the specifications on the recommended hardware from the current draft.

Ginny Cake reported that the OIT was getting more involved with RAs by offering training sessions to help them become more helpful in computing support roles. These sessions would focus on such topics as net access and e-mail. Later in the first semester, OIT will sponsor some open houses in the public computing clusters to help get additional information to students. This year OIT plans to employ SWAT teams on East Campus. This may be expanded to include upper classmen on West Campus, as well. And, this year, members of the National Technology Groups, contracted by OIT, will assist as members of the SWAT teams. OIT will provide a WWW form to ask students what types of computers they are bringing to campus in order to better prepare for student support.

The DukeNet video tapes shown last year will be repeated this year. Also, student manuals in the public clusters are being updated. Committee members were asked to e-mail Ginny Cake with any ideas or input regarding training programs and the support of incoming students.

Institutional Data Subcommittee Report

David Jamieson-Drake provided an update on the previous report from the Institutional Data Subcommittee. The presentation focused on changes from the previous draft. Most notably, the subcommittee has added a fifth recommendation that called for the active consideration of developing cross-institutional standards for core institutional databases and repositories with other educational institutions. The report as been reformatted and structured to better integrate with the strategic plan.

Susan Maupin commented that the group currently focused on data dictionaries is currently examining the topic of metadata. This group is examining current repository tools for developing and maintaining data dictionaries.

Discussion focused on the subcommittees third recommendation. This recommendation calls for the creation of a high-level database of persons in the Duke community. David commented that the subcommittee had come to the preliminary conclusion that twenty to thirty fields of information could be appropriate to accomplish the task.

Robert Wolpert raised the question of using proprietary database products at Duke and whether or not their use would necessarily violate the subcommittees second recommendation, which focuses on openness. The discussion that followed concluded that the proprietary nature of a database did not necessarily violate the subcommittees recommendation.

The motion to accept the subcommittees report was carried.

The Preliminary Report of the Student Computing Subcommittee

Tom DiPrete reported that the preliminary report of the Student Computing Subcommittee had been forwarded without further revision. Robert Wolpert requested a shortened version of that report for inclusion in the strategic plan. Tom commented that this was a good idea. However, he reported that he was about to go on leave, and would suggest a successor to complete this task. He agreed to report progress on this task to the ITAC.

Review of Proposed Job Descriptions for Institutional Data Administrator and Systems Integrator

Betty Le Compagnon reported on on-going efforts to define skills and responsibilities for two new positions. These were Institutional Data Administrator and Systems Integrator. A draft position description for the first position was provided for review by ITAC. She explained that the position was conceived of as similar to a data officer working as an advocate for data standards in the University. She reported that the title of Chief Data Officer had been considered. The reporting structure for this position had not been finalized. The discussion that followed focused on the need to distinguish the title of data administrator from database administator.

Betty reported that the other job description would be developed soon and reported to the ITAC members via e-mail. Comments on these job descriptions should be forwarded to Mike Pickett via e-mail.

Year-end Thanks

As this meeting of ITAC was the final one for the current academic year, Betty Le Compagnon closed the meeting with special thanks to the committee members for their efforts.