Emory Report
October 3, 2005
Volume 58, Number 6


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October 3 , 2005
Emory IT changes in store

Richard Mendola is vice president for information technology and chief information officer.

The start of a new academic year always brings much change, and from my vantage point as the new vice president for information technology, I’m fairly certain that the nature of my role is one change that has more questions than answers for most of the Emory community.

I’d like to take this opportunity to outline some of my highest priority items, so you can get a better understanding of my direction. This article should be considered a starting point, for if we are to be successful in our information technology (IT) endeavors, the specifics of any plan must arise from a two-way dialogue with Emory faculty, staff and students.

I officially started my new role on Sept. 1, but over the summer I tried to learn as much as possible about the IT issues at Emory. Based on what I’ve read and heard, I’ve come away impressed by many of the services IT offers. At the same time, it is clear that there is a great deal of untapped opportunity.

The first order of business is to define a governance and prioritization structure for IT initiatives that is consistent across the institution. This structure needs to be inclusive and transparent, so there’s no doubt about where IT is going, how we are going to get there, and who is making the decisions.

When I talk about consistent processes, I don’t necessarily mean a single process that applies to the entire institution. I want to assure you that I have no plans to consolidate or homogenize processes that have fundamentally different sets of requirements. My objective is to partner, find synergies and help raise the bar for as many functions as possible.

Over the next month, I will begin to circulate an outline of an IT governance plan, and I expect to have a working version in place by January 2006. Input will come through a variety of channels; I hope to have regular interactions with deans and directors, and to leverage existing structures like Faculty Council and University Senate. I’ve already set up an IT planning group that includes representatives from the college and schools, and will be using that group to create draft proposals that can be circulated to the larger University community.

Another of my top priorities will be communicating our IT plans as broadly and quickly as possible. Communicating about complex IT initiatives is never easy, particularly with the demands all of you have on your time. To determine the best communication channels, I’ve asked my staff to work with other groups at Emory that are assessing internal communication strategies, so that we can find the best options for reaching the greatest number of customers in the most cost-effective way.

One of the first things we’ll be doing is updating our Web sites and taking a more customer-centric view of how our services are presented, so that your questions get answered as easily as possible, without having to worry about which organization provides the service. We also will distribute information about the cost structures of our IT services. I am committed to helping you understand the components that drive our costs, so you can make your own decisions about the value inherent in our services.

In closing, I want to emphasize my commitment to having an open, transparent dialogue about the future of IT at Emory. My goal is to make IT one of the many factors that will enable Emory to become the destination university for the best and brightest students, faculty and staff.