Emory Report

January 24, 2000

 Volume 52, No. 18

IT decisions up to CIRT

by Jan Gleason

A new structure for the governance of information resources and technology will provide a collegial way to set direction, policies and priorities for the uses of technology at Emory. It consists of a central decision-making council and six advisory committees that allow for broad participation.

At the center of the new governance structure is the Council on Information Resources and Technology (CIRT), a quasi-University senate on technology and information resources. The 18 members of CIRT, chaired by Chancellor Billy Frye and co-chaired by College Dean Steve Sanderson, represent all areas of the University and will serve as an advisory group to the administration. CIRT will define the role of technology and information resources in the mission of the University, recommend effective ways to execute this role, define priorities and funding strategies to recommend to the provost to achieve these initiatives, and determine how Emory relates to external organizations and national initiatives.

"CIRT is key to this new governance structure; it provides a great deal of potential for giving overall an perspective to IT and information resources on campus and it provides an opportunity for coordinated planning across the campus," said Joan Gotwals, vice provost and director of libraries. "The council is so important to our future."

One of the first areas CIRT is exploring is setting direction and standards for e-mail policies. "The issue of the retention and deletion of e-mail messages first came up among the University officers; I developed a proposal and took it to CIRT and then the ITD Advisory Committee; a revised version went back to CIRT and is now going to the President's Cabinet," said Paul Morris, vice provost for information technology.

Five other committees and a seminar feed information into CIRT: the IT Architecture Committee, the ITD Advisory Committee, the Web Advisory Council, the Seminar on the Digital Future, the library policy committee and the Librarian's Council.

The I/T Architecture Committee, chaired by law Dean Woody Hunter, is working to create a set of guidelines for acquiring new IT systems and deploying them across Emory. Such a set of guidelines is called an "information technology architecture." The committee will perform much of the technical work to develop and implement the policies set by CIRT. According to the committee's initial report in December 1999, "Having such an architecture would result in our systems working together, our information resources being easily accessible, new implementations taking less time, the cost of support being limited and everyone understanding the technological direction in which we are heading."

The ITD Advisory Committee--chaired by Barbara Maaskant, executive director for Information Services at Goizueta Business School--provides guidance on overall ITD policies and priorities, including the deployment and use of ITD resources, ITD activities and expenditures and new budget initiatives.

The Web Advisory Council is chaired by Jan Gleason, assistant vice president of University communications. It was formed in 1998 to advise the University on a variety of issues related to the web.

Its four subcommittees are developing a statement of objectives for the Emory Web and an extensive set of web policies; exploring technical standards issues; and creating web resources for identity program and template development.

The Seminar on the Digital Future provides a small group of scholars and administrators a chance to explore the potential technological paths academia may take. Frye and Sanderson chair this group, which plans to issue a report later this spring.

"With CIRT decisions, we're looking at operational planning and making short-term plans," said Morris. "The Seminar on the Digital Future is looking at the big picture--three to five years out. They're looking at what we need to be doing long-term and saying it's a funding priority."

Two committees that weigh in on information resources issues are the University Senate's library policy committee and the Librarians Council. The former consists of faculty and students and works with Gotwals to enhance library quality, utility and accessibility.

The Librarians Council consists of the directors of all Emory libraries and is chaired by Gotwals. It discusses libraries' policies and procedures, makes decisions and recommendations on centrally budgeted library programs and identifies broad strategic issues for CIRT to consider.

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