DUKE ITAC - January 30, 1997 Minutes

ITAC Minutes

January 30, 1997

The ITAC meeting was called to order by Chairman Robert Wolpert on Thursday, January 30, 1997, at 4:00 p.m. Members in attendance were: Bill Auld, Human Resources
Landen Bain, MCIS
Pakis Bessias, Graduate School
John Board, ECE
Jim Dronsfield, OIT
Al Eldridge, Center for Teaching & Learning
David Ferriero, Library
Paul Harrod, Internal Audit
David Jamieson-Drake, Provost's Office
Dave Kirby, MCIS
Betty Le Compagnon, OIT
Roger Loyd, Divinity School
John McCann, Fuqua
Melissa Mills, Arts & Sciences
Caroline Nisbet, Student Affairs
Mike Pickett, OIT
Alex Reutter, ISDS
Les Saper, Department of Math
Bill Scarborough, Auxilliary Services
Evan Scheessele, Student
John Sigmon, Nicholas School of Environment
Robert Wolpert, ITAC Chair, ISDS & NSOE
Kim Woodlief, Divinity School

The minutes from the previous ITAC meeting were approved with no comments or alterations.

Mike Pickett reported that he had been working with OIT staff to design and create a web page that will be set up to solicit new members or other people in the Duke community with interest in serving on committees for ITAC. It was felt broader information distribution to the community may identify some individuals who would have a specific interest in working on a particular committee. This will also be helpful in replenishing membership and standing committee members for ITAC.

Mike Pickett reported on the SICC Committee. He reported that a retreat was held for the members of the committee. It was felt that the infrastructure would have to be strengthened to provide services for the community and for Duke. It was felt that the committee needed to suggest a sequence of events for the implementation and timing of large university computing programs and initiatives. An example would be the Year 2000 question. Major projects need to be better sequenced so that everyone will be aware of efforts required to get them underway. Also it was felt that there was a need for guidelines for desk top computing. What hardware and software can be best supported? The committee also felt server guidelines should be created. These proposed standards and recommendations for hardware and software would be submitted to ITAC for review. David Jamieson-Drake commented that minimum levels for desktop hardware and software as well as servers should be developed and transmitted to the Duke community to allow for timely and careful purchasing decisions.

Betty Le Compagnon reported on the status of the Computer Use Policy. Some members of the Law School faculty will be invited to ITAC in the near future to provide their input into the proposed policy. It was hoped that after their input, a Computer Use Policy would be adopted by ITAC.

Betty Le Compagnon introduced John Strohbehn, Provost of the University, as a guest of ITAC. He was asked to provide his comments to the ITAC membership as it relates to computing at Duke. He commented on the progress of technology and computing at Duke in the past two years. He felt that significant progress has been made with the reorganization of OIT. The strategic plan developed by ITAC along with the recent IBM study of the status of computing at Duke were most helpful to his office and to the senior officers. He had several specific comments as related to the strategic plan.

He noted that ITAC's strategic plan did not address the financial issues as completely as he had hoped. Funding for Duke University has not been at the level of our peer institutions and so we cannot use others necessarily as benchmarks. He raised the question, how do we determine which projects recommended are the most important and how can they be funded? Should there be some areas within the university where we should be cutting edge or should we be "third to none"? Where do we think computing is going? The University should be open to centralization for some functions but be open to decentralization for some appropriate functions. The balance between these two is difficult to determine. Should there be centralization of information? What is the overall cost of centralization versus localized information data bases? What is the tradeoff between centralization and anticipated error rate by providing localized information? Life cycle replacement versus the cost for such replacement requires significant planning to determine the impact across the enterprise when change is implemented. Should we require computers for undergraduates? If we do not, well off students will acquire the necessary computing power while those less well off will not. If you require computers the federal government will help to pay for such equipment through grants and loans. The question has to be asked what the impact of requiring and not requiring every undergraduate to have a computer. Dr. Strohbehn was inclined to recommend that Duke require undergraduates to have a computer.

How does technology fit into teaching and learning? There is a wide spread of opinion within the senior officers of the impact of technology in this area. The Provost noted that a recent Mellon study had concluded that technology has not had a significant impact on teaching and learning on a cost effective basis. John Strohbehn also stated, however, he would be very much open to any one who has access to alternate studies that indicate that technology is effective in the classroom for teaching and learning. He believes that the developing technology should be supported in the classroom on a pilot basis. He believes we should provide support but noted the overall question of effectiveness of technology in teaching is still open. One exception might be the teaching for foreign languages where there seems to be some evidence of effectiveness.

Overall funding is a challenge for technology. The Duke computing budget has been increased but he recognizes that more central appropriations may be required. The current reengineering efforts may free up more funding that could be allocated to computing.

At this point, Dr. Strohbehn took questions from ITAC members. John Board asked about how services were funded at Duke. John Strohbehn said that the possibilities of other funding alternatives are being studied by the senior officers. Outsourcing may make sense in some areas. Paul Harrod asked if fund raising at Duke could be directed specifically for information technology. The Provost replied, it will be looked at. Some gifts may be specifically designated for computing. From his experience, corporate giving in this area is more productive than individual giving for computing. John McCann sited a study from a Reuters article indicating that a course taught over the internet was 20% more effective than that taught to a controlled group. Should this type of individual study be transmitted to the Provost? The Provost replied that these studies would be helpful to support the effectiveness of technology and teaching. David Ferriero commented that he felt that the quality and quantity of information now being able to be disseminated through technology is getting better and better each year. He is seeing increased utilization of library facilities and resources in this arena. Robert Wolpert commented that material being presented in the traditional classroom is more rigorous and more rich than previous presentations when supplemented by technology. The Provost commented, what can we do for our on-campus students? There are other questions concerning direction. What should we do and can we do for our off-campus students? Should Duke be looking at distance education? Maybe we should not give up on this market that has been traditionally the purview of public universities. Perhaps additional efforts in this area could be very cost effective and revenue generating. John Board asked about his comfort level of information technology initiatives going through the SICC committee? The Provost commented that SICC is a definite step forward. The coordination between academic, administrative, and OIT efforts is needed. SICC has helped this process. Also he felt that the medical center and hospital are more in the mix now than they were in the past. The Provost departed from the meeting at 5:00 p.m.

DukeNet and Wiring Project Issues

Betty Le Compagnon provided some of the history behind the wiring project starting in May, 1995. She commented that in the nearly two years that the project has been underway, technology has changed. She noted that it was time to reevaluate the technology and network designs being used. In order to keep abreast of changes in the area both from a technology and price view point it is suggested that a small committee be formed to serve as a DukeNet design and oversight group. Mike Pickett commented that the review of the current wiring and electronic standards of the University Wiring Project and the proposed redesign should be accomplished within a relatively short period of time. He noted that the committee should also assume that the Wiring Project budget would not be increased. The committee would report back to ITAC with findings in a relatively short time in order not to cause long delays in construction. Tentative members suggested for this oversight committee included Pakis Bessias, Bob Currier, Heath Ramsey, Steve Natelborg, Dave Kirby, Christopher Cramer and John Eisenmenger. It was suggest that John Eisenmenger act as chair. The basic charge of the committee would be to review and recommend changes or corrections to the present network design of the University Wiring Project as well as the infrastructure standards for cable and wiring. The committee would review wiring standards and DukeNet design at regular intervals.

The meeting was adjourned at 5:30 p.m.