Duke ITAC - October 24, 2019 Minutes
ITAC meeting Thursday, October 24, 2019, at 4:00 PM, in the Allen Building Board Room
Agenda – October 24, 2019
4:00 – 4:05 – Announcements (5 minutes)
4:05 – 4:35 – Special Guest: Provost Sally Kornbluth (30 minutes)
What it is: Each year the Provost attends an ITAC meeting to answer questions and share her perspective as it relates to technology and other topics; ITAC members are invited to pose questions of the Provost.
Why it’s relevant: As the university's chief academic officer, Provost Kornbluth has broad responsibility for leading Duke's schools and institutes, as well as admissions, financial aid, libraries, and all other facets of the university's academic life.
What are the goals associated with faculty research and compliance rolling up through the new VP of Research? What implications do you see over time Duke-wide, for example, related to the existence of separate IRBs (Institutional Review Board) today? Are there expectations of or implications for research misconduct investigations, faculty privacy, etc.?
Goals will include unified research across the entire university and will be focusing on elevating research excellence while still considering compliance. We are looking at what IT needs are to keep moving research forwards. Part of his remit is to strategize science and technology initiatives to understand hiring needs. He is really meant to be a visible collaborator when bringing these forwards in the research space as a central point and partner to bringing people and infrastructure needed.
Science and Technology Initiative. Beyond the hiring of new faculty, do you envision ways in which other aspects of technology will be brought to bear to achieve the goals of the DST effort?
These are computationally heavy areas we are promoting in the science and technology infrastructure so keeping IT and data structures up to date are at the forefront. Data access is a large focus, especially with Medical School collaborations. It’s been a slow and frustrating process to liberate the data. Matching the educational components with the research components of the science and technology initiative is also a focus. We need to make sure that all Duke students are computational literate.
Mitigating Financial Risk and Controlling Cost. What opportunities do you see for IT to help Duke control costs? Conversely, are there areas where you think we should be spending more, in order to capitalize on progress, we can make with appropriate IT investment?
We haven’t always retired services that are not returning the value of its cost. Avoid investing in redundant services. Especially in recessions, we will need to be more transparent in our decision processes as we will have to be more selective in decision processes around purchasing.
EVP Retirement. Duke has been fortunate to have stable leadership over many years, characterized by long tenures and occasional changes in leadership. Your tenure marked such a transition as Provost; what lessons--related to IT or otherwise—might relate to the upcoming EVP change?
We have enjoyed a very stable leadership. This gives us a huge amount of institutional memory across the board between the provost, president, and EVP. Thanks to the collegiality between these leaders we can focus on the academic mission. The goal should be to select someone who acknowledges the mission is to further research of the faculty and to further the education to the students. Of course, we have to keep financial stability, but the focus has to be the faculty and students. Duke has seen excellent results from faculty search committee and the pattern of leadership they’ve historically found for Duke. If we are going to go through a downturn in the economy, we have to have someone who is financially savvy but it can’t be the only focus.
Machine learning and bias. What should technologists be thinking about as they continue to approach development?
Comment: Sharing examples of some wonderful yet terrifying models of how AI and data analytics have been used and their findings that included concerns of privacy and how some can even reinforce biases we were even unaware of.
Part of it is the holistic view of what we’re trying to achieve. While the grades and scores are requirements for the small portion of our accepted applicants there are also many more qualities that aren’t as easily quantifiable including humanistic, community-minded, and depth of intellect qualities. There are sophistications that we want our students to have, but we have to be careful to articulate the values of the Duke education to ensure they are not narrowly defined. We also had to ensure the way we measure value aligns with the holistic definition of their Duke education. We have to have humans involved in the assessments.
Comment: Another institution has added a board for augmentation to the IRB. We can come up with the appropriate paperwork to meet compliance through the exiting IRB structure, while this potentially-new board could ask if we SHOULD be pursuing the research at all, not just if it would meet those compliance requirements.
Whether we really have to silo the process, but the ethos is we should be making these judgements every day as part of the process. The only way to avoid it is to be more conscious of these possibilities and including it in daily operations.
Q: Is that part of what we’re attempting to accomplish with data literacy courses?
A: Social sciences and computer science are having discussions about the ethical use of these technologies and how we educate our students to think about the ethics of these technological advances. We are not a free-standing technology institute we have expertise in the law school and public policy areas and need to continue to apply that knowledge in the process.
The intersection of technology and politics (fake news, elections, Cambridge Analytica, etc.). What is technology’s role in the process of political activity?
We may need to be more worried about the broader view of what the upcoming election effects will be on our campus, such as political divides amongst students, political tilt amongst faculty that may not be reflected within our students. Can academia ensure viewpoints across the spectrum are represented?
We need to continually self-examine the integrity of our own processes. The ability to invade any process on campus through technology or financial influence exists and we have to guard our own decisions and processes.
I am cognizant that for us to really be cutting edge we have to invest more. It’s about how we frame advancements in our technology to further our research and education through better storytelling.
Q: Perhaps our existing workflows around sponsored research are not the best it can be. How high is this in priority within streamlining and automating the research?
A: There are elements of individual IRBs from Campus and from the Medical Center that do work well. We’re looking at how to best consolidate where we can, but there are idiosyncratic needs. We are looking at how we can utilize best practices and efficiencies while still working in their own topical areas. The Medical Center has a shared grant management program.
We are beginning to work in common management in a similar way particular around some of the smaller departments with infrequent grant demands. We really need to make sure we are not adding barriers to getting grants. We are just looking at best practices. By having VPR Larry Carin looking at this from the top with a strategic view it will be helpful.
C: We’re great at storing data but the curation efforts are further behind.
A: Without curation, the data isn’t accessible to those that are not highly sophisticated in data analysis. Also, data emerging from our own activities and operations related to our skills have been siloed and working Student Affairs who are open to better utilizing our own operational data alongside our research data.
Q: I’ve read about your advocacy for online learning? Where does Duke play into that? What would the long-term viability and the University’s role in online learning look like?
A: We’ve made strides in flipped classrooms, where students are doing much of the running the conversation and tools in the classroom. Now we are looking at digital means to extend Rascoff’s “Arc of learning”, giving extended community like alumni access to Duke’s content.
Duke does well in these hybrid environments. She still has a concern that we’re a bit too conservative in online learning such as not allowing courses online for course credit to extend our capability giving a nimbleness to distance learning options. We can’t be constantly worry that we will be replaced with online MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) but we can augment that with some online curriculum. People want to be at Duke in person for the experience. We’re getting there in the Master’s space, but there’s an opportunity to extend our capabilities and revenue-generating opportunities that wouldn’t threaten our on-campus experience. We can be more forward-thinking here especially in the undergraduate context.
Q: Does Duke have a way to protect our brand through these online options? (Context in the discussion was given by mentioning: international campuses, home, online presence, growing Master’s groups, Medical Schools in 2 continents with multiple connotations.)
A: This is a valid concern for the decentralization of these spaces. We do not have harmonized branding for the online options especially in areas with resistance to any centralization in the production of these resources. Assisting with the production and being involved early to raise awareness for early intervention for Duke branding, but it’s difficult. Faculty are likely concerned about the quality of the materials. We just don’t have the infrastructure in place.
C: It is tough to keep the quality while still supporting the independence and innovation of faculty.
It’s amazing that we’re allowing a Duke degree at DKU. The Medical School in Singapore is almost all flipped classrooms, it speaks to change of time and faculty governance process in the Medical School compared to the rest of the campus.
Q: As you have a background in smaller liberal arts schools as well as Duke, similar to what you’ve done with the Roots to Rights alternative to Spring Break what are other things from these smaller schools that you could see us applying to Duke.
A: The involvement from faculty in residential life, even though not living within the campus. We can have more involvement at Duke of faculty with the students. The link from the first-year experience to other years is a large change.
There seems to be a smoother experience at smaller schools, and this is an area for a task force. We are looking at a core of faculty that will interact more frequently with residential life and bringing more venues of interaction for common experiences. The issue with larger places is fewer unifying experiences. The classroom experience between the two sized Universities isn’t a lot different, keeping with small classes. All for continued expansion of the focus program.
4:35 – 5:30 – The Future of Impersonation Attacks, Nick Tripp (40 minute presentation, 15 minute discussion)
What it is: Continuing the IT Security Office’s Halloween tradition as part of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month in October, this presentation will discuss a recent increase in the number of attacks on Duke based on impersonation of someone or something. Nick will demonstrate three types of impersonation attacks (ranging from no-tech to high-tech) that are likely to become increasingly common.
Why it’s relevant: Identity security and access control systems is top-of-mind to Duke. This presentation will discuss how you and Duke are working to protect your identity.
Richard and colleagues presented detailed information on the security issues and considerations. (Not recorded)