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March 7, 1990

                                    MINUTES

                              Computer Committee

                     Fourth Floor Burruss Hall Board Room

                                 March 7, 1990

                                     3 PM

 

 

       PRESENT:     Don Allison, Jeff Birch, John Burton,

                    Bob Heterick, Katherine Johnston, Fred Medley,

                    Harlan Miller, Dennis Catley for Jim Montgomery,

                    Richard Sorensen, Ernest Stout, Jim Thomas,

                    Jeff Wilcke, Mike Williams

 

       ABSENT:      Jim Baranowski, Darrell Bosch, Jim Hicks,

                    Dennis Jones, Tom McAnge, Joan McClain-Kark,

                    Barbara Young

 

       VISITOR(S):  Barbara Robinson and Bill Sanders (Computing Center),

                    Jim Gamble

 

 

       AGENDA ITEM 1:  MINUTES OF THE FEBRUARY 7, 1990 MEETING

 

       Motion made, seconded and passed to approve the minutes of the

       February meeting.

 

       AGENDA ITEM 2:  COMPUTING CENTER ANNOUNCEMENTS (WILLIAMS)

 

       There will be an open house at the Information Systems Building

       on Friday, March 30.  Tours of the facility will be conducted all

       day.

 

       AGENDA ITEM 3:  REPORTING PROCEDURES (THOMAS)

 

       A memo was received from the secretary of University Council de-

       tailing a clarification of reporting procedures for University

       Committees.

 

       While the Computer Committee is expected to submit its minutes to

       the University Council, the Council receives them for information

       only.  If the Computer Committee wants to initiate a policy

       change, it must pass a resolution to that effect and submit it to

       the Council for consideration.

 

       AGENDA ITEM 4:  SUBCOMMITTEE REPORTS

 

       1.  Personal Computer Subcommittee (Sorensen)

 

           The Personal Computer subcommittee reported on the results of

           their survey of academic colleges.  Business, Computer Sci-

           ence, Statistics and Engineering currently require or recom-

           mend that students purchase a specific microcomputer

           configuration.  No other departments reported seriously con-

           sidering such a requirement at this time.  Departments with a

           PC requirement have not experienced a decrease in the number

           of applications for admission (in fact, applications have in-

           creased) and the requirement does not appear to be a burden

           on the less affluent students.  The subcommittee feels there

           should not be any university-wide PC requirements.  Institu-

           tional support should be provided, however, to insure that

           hardware and software are available at the lowest possible

           price.  In selling computers, it is felt that the bookstore

           should charge a flat fee over its cost, rather than a per-

           centage, since the service provided by the bookstore is simi-

           lar for all machines, regardless of price.  It is also felt

           that the colleges requiring purchase of PC's should set an

           overall limit on the amount a student is required to spend.

 

           The committee also examined the computer laboratory space

           available.  Most laboratories are supported by departments or

           colleges and have been funded through Equipment Trust Funds.

           The lack of space will probably limit any increase in the

           number of laboratories, but, as the existing equipment ages,

           there is an urgent need for continued funding for maintenance

           and replacement.

 

           The Personal Computer subcommittee feels that the Computing

           Center should take more responsibility for providing support

           for departmental PC facilities.

 

           It was pointed out in the discussion that the Center has ex-

           pended considerable effort in such areas as communications

           and file transfer.  In addition, it has taken on the respon-

           sibility of handling University computer purchasing and pro-

           viding technical help to departments in making their

           purchases.  Supplying additional support would require sub-

           stantial reduction in other services.  Furthermore, given the

           wide variety of equipment and software required on a

           programmatic basis and the extremely high rate of change, it

           would be difficult, if not impossible, to identify a manage-

           able core of items to support that would satisfy more than a

           minority of users.  Information Systems has vigorously sup-

           ported decentralization, believing that departments want to

           make their own decisions about computer acquisitions and are,

           in fact, more capable than the central facility of judging

           their own needs.  This avenue allows diversity that would

           have to be limited if central support is required.

 

           The subcommittee also recommends investigating the possibil-

           ity of having a vendor provide microcomputer laser printing

           in the laboratories, financed by users through a per-sheet

           charge.

 

           Finally, the Personal Computer subcommittee reaffirmed last

           year's report concerning the need for a committee composed of

           representatives from each academic college that is involved

           with computer utilization.  The purpose of this committee

           would be to provide a forum for discussion of departmental

           computing activities and to act in an advisory capacity to

           the Computing Center, VPI facilities and academic programs.

 

           The subcommittee will place motions before the committee

           based on this report at the next committee meeting.

 

       2.  User Services Subcommittee (Sanders)

 

           The User Services subcommittee also explored the question of

           providing support for PC's and other distributed computing

           activities.  It is recommended that there be an investigation

           into the possibility of developing a new model of service

           which might better serve computing on campus as it becomes

           more distributed.  The question of broadening the focus of

           User Services' activities might then be addressed in the con-

           text of the new model.

 

       AGENDA ITEM 5:  ADDITIONS TO THE AGENDA

 

       Since the reorganization of University Council is still under

       study, no changes to the Computer Committee for the next academic

       year are anticipated at this time.

 

       The next meeting will be held on April 4 at 3 p.m. in Burruss

       400.

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