Duke ITAC - March 16, 2006 Minutes

DUKE ITAC - March 16, 2006 Minutes


March 16, 2006

Members present : Pakis Bessias, John Board, Dick Danner represented by Ken Hirsch, Brian Eder represented by Michael Holt, Nevin Fouts, Tracy Futhey, Deborah Jakubs, David Jamieson-Drake represented by Bob Newlin, Julian Lombardi, Roger Loyd, Gregory McCarthy, Dmitriy Morozov, Kyle Johnson, George Oberlander, George Oberlander, Lynne O’Brien, Mike Pickett, Rafael Rodriquez, Molly Tamarkin, Trey Turner III, Tom Wall, Robert Wolpert, Steve Woody

Guests: Ginny Cake, OIT; Marilyn Lombardi, OIT

Start time : 4:00 PM


I. Tour of Fuqua IT Resources

II. Review of Minutes and Announcements:

  • John Board says the next meeting will be a special meeting on student committees.

III. Overview of IT strategic plan – Tracy Futhey

    • Improve classrooms: This includes bringing them up to a common baseline, though we acknowledge that this isn’t a universal issue. There is also a reference to the increasing number of specialized classrooms;
    • Support for faculty: The strategy here is targeting local support to provide academic and research assistance to faculty. On the research side there was some discussion of departments trying to use graduate students for support, but by the time they get up to speed they’re leaving, and it’s not really an effective way of doing things. Likewise, with the Duke Digital Initiative (DDI) and other ways of starting to infuse the use of technology into academics, we have more and more faculty ready to take possession of technology. One idea is that there could be academic support specialists. These individuals shouldn’t be viewed as “just” IT people: they should be viewed as an IT specialist with a particular academic or discipline domain of expertise.
    • Targeted innovations: Think about focused, limited experiments like the DDI. This strategy is not in any way specific.
    • Storage and backup: We’ve heard about this over and over again in terms of research and also the university’s growing focus on arts and culture. The idea here is also to target strategies that would be a-la-carte in nature, not just one monolithic backup solution, so that there would be a more flexible set of options in backup or archiving resources.
    • Digital recording and repositories
    • Establish a funding model for high performance computing: Do we have a commitment to ensuring machine room space, cooling, etc.?
    • Promote collaboration: This includes a series of ideas about common orientation programs that would be university IT programs as well as forums through which support people might get together on an occasional basis,
    • Security and risk mitigations: We focus a lot at Duke on security. What we haven’t done much of is risk mitigation where we try to understand the problem rather than deal with when there’s a vulnerability that gets exploited. Think of social security numbers as an area where we did risk mitigation, but there are lots of other similar opportunities.
    • Business continuity & disaster preparedness: This is one that always sits out there for years and years. Because of Katrina stuff in last year, this is one that the trustees and others are particularly focused on right now. This is an area that is always important to know about, but is particularly timely right now.
    • Campus and school of medicine networking: There was a discussion at ITAC a while ago about challenges to making sure from the health system that disclosure of patient data is locked down. On the other side, faculty are working to collaborate, and some feel that there are limitations in being able to easily collaborate if you are outside of the medical school. I think there are quite reasonable solutions to this, and it’s a matter of making them happen.
    • Academic enterprise systems: We don’t necessarily have the same emphasis on providing enterprise production grade systems for things that support the academic system. We shouldn’t necessarily have these for every academic activity, but for some we may need to focus more in that area.
    • Web development: There is a group that met on this and determined we could be doing much better, not only on campus but providing efforts so people don’t have to go get help from outside. The conclusion is that the university is spending more by outsourcing these services than it would to do it internally. This group believed that people had the notion that even if it seems cheaper, it may not really fit into the environment.
    • Upgrade the wired campus network
    • Extend and enhance the wireless network: Think about cellular wireless and getting ubiquitous coverage in buildings and other forms of media in that network like VoIP.
    • Establish comprehensive network funding models: In the reports, it came out that the core network isn’t in our refresh model, so we need to get that in. Wireless isn’t in our refresh model either. For historical reasons for how he funding model set up 6-8 years ago, these things were missed.
    • Expanding computing facilities: This includes both centralized and distributed facilities to support other activities throughout the institution.
  • Tracy Futhey says I want to start by recognizing Marilyn Lombardi and the important help she has provided in pulling these pieces together, which is not to diminish the help of many other people and groups. There were lots of school plans, lots of OIT and IT plans, and lots of cross-university working group plans.

    I’m going to talk to you about what are the proposed recommendations for elements in the strategic plan that relate to information technology. This takes into account the working groups we had convened, some of the work Lynne O’Brien did with the instructional technology group, work from the working group on high performance computing, some input provided by a group on arts and humanities, and then there were various school plans. We worked over the last month to distill the recommendations of these groups into the highest order of commonalities. What we have today, and what will be submitted to the university, is a set of three goals and 15 strategies to achieve those goals.

    Goal 1: This goal is focused around the teaching, learning, and research environment.


    John Board says I think all the right words are there, and I want to point out these are institutional goals, not OIT goals. OIT will play a role in solving most of these, but so will every school and center.

    Tracy says right, there is nothing in this plan that says “OIT.” There is always the question of where does the money come from and who manages issues, but this report is totally silent on this.

    Deborah Jakubs says it’s striking how much this goal represents a library goal, it’s good to see that there is a similar direction these plans are taking.

    Dmitiry Morozov says when you talk about support for faculty, what happens to graduate students? Should there be something about support for graduate students, like training?

    Tracy says it’s not clear to me that in support sense, the plan for graduate students is markedly different from the support we might generally provide.

    Marilyn Lombardi says some of wrinkles on the support for faculty is that the role of specialist would be a content matter specialist, so that person would know the concerns of a particular discipline and be helpful to graduate students as well as faculty.

    John Board says I imagined that the cadre of experts would be training the trainers, so they would be training the graduate students.

    Goal 2: Extend our effectiveness in a distributed environment. One of the great advantages of a distributed environment is it gives the entrepreneurial opportunity to do things locally, but it makes it hard to create consistency.


    Molly Tamarkin says for academic enterprise systems, did needs for systems other than for faculty come up?

    Tracy Futhey says the ones mentioned are faculty database support, promotion and tenure activities, project sponsor support, and an acknowledgement that we will want to assess the next generation of course management systems coming out.

    Marilyn Lombardi says there is also an implication that this would be a section that would confirm or validate what the library needs in terms of institutional repositories.

    Molly says talking with some of web groups on campus, there was more often a problem when a group with no web expertise outsourced rather than going to a web group to do outsourcing.

    Marilyn says definitely focus on having a list of preferred vendors.

    Goal 3: Provide an enabling infrastructure


    Lynne O’Brien says it strikes me that some issues are eternal, like classrooms, partly because it’s a moving target; at the same time, there are some things that were front-edge five years ago are now things we’re trying to refresh. One challenge is figuring out priorities across the whole plan.

    Tracy says a challenge I see with this plan is there are a lot of things on it that are recurring, annual things one would imagine should be part of an annual operating budget.

End time : 5:14 PM