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January 13, 1993

 

 

                                   MINUTES

                             Computer Committee

                           President's Board Room

                              January 13, 1993

                                    3 PM

 

 

      PRESENT:     Terry Rakes, Sean Arthur, David Coe, G. Wayne Clough,

                   John Cosgriff, David Goodyear, Tom McAnge, Travis

                   McCoy, Gerry McLaughlin, Harlan Miller, Ernest Stout,

                   Patricia Summers, J.R. Webster, Jeffrey Wilcke,

                   Michael Williams

 

      ABSENT:      Erv Blythe, Darrell Bosch, John Burton, Jan Carr,

                   Glen Holmes, Katherine Johnston, Carolyn Moore,

                   K.B. Rojiani, Jay Stoeckel

 

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

 

 

      AGENDA ITEM 1:  MINUTES OF THE DECEMBER 2, 1992 MEETING (RAKES)

 

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

      December meeting.

 

      AGENDA ITEM 2:  COMPUTING CENTER ANNOUNCEMENTS (WILLIAMS)

 

      A new release of Eris is now available featuring a more user-

      friendly mail client which will replace the SSI mail interface.

      Significant demand is expected which may initially strain the

      registration process.

 

      CAD computing will be removed from the mainframe by July 1, 1993.

      Planning has begun for merging VM2 with VM1 on the 3090.  Mi-

      gration is expected to be relatively smooth for most users.

 

      AGENDA ITEM 3:  SUBCOMMITTEE REPORTS (CHAIRS)

 

 

      o   Personal Computer (Clough)

 

          Investigations have revealed significant multimedia activity

          in Physics, Geology, English, Education, Computer Science and

          Engineering.  No activity was found in Biology, Chemistry and

          Agriculture.  Engineering and Architecture have a lab now and

          expect to make multimedia training courses available to the

          University at large in the near future.

 

          Dr. Clough was approached as chair of the subcommittee for

          advice regarding the advisability of moving the researching

          opportunities index to electronic media.  He suggested a

          transition period of two years during which hard copy and

          electronic access be provided.  It was observed that the

          state fraud hotline had raised the issue of waste associated

          with unrestrained use of campus mailings when electronic

          means might be more cost-effective.

 

 

      o   Capacity and Planning (Arthur)

 

          The subcommittee expects to meet with Mike Williams soon to

          discuss future plans for mainframes.  The focus of the sub-

          committee is expected to move in the direction of planning

          rather than capacity, addressing issues such as academic ver-

          sus administrative computing and providing transparency to

          users in a distributed environment.

 

 

      o   End User (Goodyear)

 

          A copy of the results of the internal survey of committee in-

          terests was distributed to Computer Committee members.  The

          subcommittee will meet soon to proceed with arranging presen-

          tations.

 

 

      o   Workstation (Cosgriff)

 

          The subcommittee has not met.  Surveys have been distributed

          and a followup letter to encourage timely response will be

          prepared.

 

 

      o   Site License (Rakes)

 

          Bob Hendricks has resigned as chair of the subcommittee.  Bob

          Sumichrast has agreed to take the chair and will call a sub-

          committee meeting shortly to develop criteria and a mechanism

          for receiving proposals.

 

      AGENDA ITEM 4:  REVISION OF THE COMMITTEE DESCRIPTION (Rakes)

 

      In response to a request by the Commission for University Support

      to review its description in the Bylaws of University Council,

      the Computer Committee will recommend

 

      o   that the name of the Computer Committee be changed to Comput-

          ing Committee in order to focus on the activity, not the

          hardware, and

 

      o   that the charge be rephrased as follows:  to make recommen-

          dations concerning the operation, maintenance and development

          of the University's computing infrastructure.

 

      Although it was agreed that having a large number of committee

      members may be counter-productive, it was felt that cuts would be

      resisted.  It was suggested that a representative of the Vice

      President for Outreach be appointed, that the Extension Division

      member be changed to a representative of Cooperative Extension,

      and that the Director of Systems Development be dropped from the

      membership.

 

      AGENDA ITEM 5:  PHASE 2 AND THE COMPUTING CENTER (Williams)

 

      The University has described the budget reduction process as com-

      prising two phases, phase 1 when short notice required quick

      action to meet state mandates, and phase 2, a more rational con-

      sidered response and reallocation of resources to allow effective

      long-term operation under a decreased budget.  Under phase 2, the

      Computing Center is planning for a restructuring driven by the

      overwhelming demand for computing and the state's directive that

      the University be more productive.  The plan represents the most

      significant change since the late 60's and will be implemented

      over the next four to five years.  A dialog begun with senior ad-

      ministration has received favorable response and discussions have

      recently begun across campus.  It is expected that this topic

      will remain a continuing item on the Computer Committee's agenda

      in the coming months.

 

      For many years the computing model at the University balanced

      support on a central facility.  In the late 70's when reduced

      prices made equipment affordable at the departmental level, dis-

      tributed expenditures increased rapidly, outstripping central

      funding approximately three to one.  In the last five years

      equipment prices have decreased to commodity level, encouraging

      personal expenditures by faculty, staff and students to even

      higher levels of at least $15 million a year, about five times

      the central expenditure.

 

      Meanwhile central funding for computing support personnel has de-

      clined. In addition, by focusing on central services, the Comput-

      ing Center has become distanced from its end-users and faces a

      loss of support from its constituency.  To remedy these problems,

      a new, truly distributed model is critical, where the computing

      load is widely shared and occurs in a cooperative manner.

 

      An environment comprised of many small machines communicating us-

      ing client/server technology provides potential benefits such as

      adaptability to change, scalability, vendor independence and con-

      sistent user interface.  Small machines provide processing power

      about 100 times cheaper per MIP (a measure of processing capabil-

      ity) than mainframes.  Cost differentials at that level allow

      savings even with the increased complexity of such an environ-

      ment.

 

      Despite the attractive advantages of new technology, the Univer-

      sity has deep dependencies on mainframe applications.  Personnel

      skills and knowledge are focused there, not only in the Computing

      Center but in departments across campus.  The funding and organ-

      izational structure are rooted in the central model as well.

 

      The restructuring proposal is based on four areas, instruction,

      research, outreach and administration.  Specifics will be dis-

      cussed later, but in the instruction area, for example, which

      will be the largest effort, the goal is to assure that every fac-

      ulty member has desktop access and capability.  A summer faculty

      institute is envisioned in which every faculty member rotates

      through a program every four years to focus on instructional

      technology with a reexamination of teaching methodologies and

      curricula in that context.   Participants would leave with a com-

      puter system and software.  Universal student access is also an-

      ticipated.

 

      Goals for the next five years include becoming a leader in "high

      touch" use of technology with increased intensity of interaction

      with knowledge resources, increased collaboration, competitive

      advantage in the use of analytic tools and navigating the world,

      and more efficient and effective administrative processes.

 

      Meeting these goals will require additional resources initially

      in order to support both old and new technology during the tran-

      sition.  However, significant monies are expected to be freed in

      the long term.  It is hoped that the University's investment can

      be leveraged by taking advantage of current educational interest

      in technology, by seeking special funding from the state, for ex-

      ample.  A capital budget request for renovation of classrooms has

      been submitted.

 

      Pilot programs are expected to begin this summer, with the four

      year cycle beginning the following year.

 

      AGENDA ITEM 6:  ADDITIONS TO THE AGENDA

 

      Members of the search committee for the Vice President of Infor-

      mation Systems provided an update on their progress.  About sixty

      applications have been received and first cut decisions are cur-

      rently underway.  No closing date has been set for the search,

      however, and additional applications are expected.  The committee

      is looking for experience with libraries and media (which is hard

      to find), experience in managing change (and would be partic-

      ularly interested in someone who had managed a move from a cen-

      tralized to decentralized environment), land-grant experience,

      good communication skills in both technical and non-technical

      settings and academic credentials with a focus on advanced de-

      grees and research involvement.

 

 

      The next meeting will be held on February 3 at 3 p.m. in Confer-

      ence Room G in the CEC.

 

      Meeting adjourned at 4:45 p.m.

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