Dear faculty, students and staff:
Last year, the Presidents Information Revolution Commission (PIRC) issued a report that sets forth a compelling vision for the future of the University. The report was distributed on campus and is available on the Web at www.umich.edu/pres/inforev/. Upcoming issues of the University Record will contain articles on the progress that we have made in implementing recommendations of that report. I would like to comment briefly on our efforts.
Communication and the use of information in generating knowledge and developing understanding are at the very core of our mission. We must, therefore, be committed to the sort of ongoing effort envisioned in the report to develop, implement and effectively utilize new means for communication and the management of information. We must reinvigorate and sustain our tradition of excellence in this regard, for the benefit of our faculty and students and to fulfill our public obligations in an era often characterized as an information age. We must continually work to create an environment for our faculty, students and staff that is ever richer in information resources and that makes ever more possible the spirited sharing of information, ideas and work. We must further our understanding of the ramifications, potential and limitations of emerging technologies and help shape their role in our institution and the larger world.
In the year since the report was released, including the period of leadership transition that we are now in, a great deal of progress has been made. Much, perhaps most, of this progress has taken place in various units across campus, as is to be expected. Our primary concern in the central administration during this period has been to enhance access to and creative use of information resources by attending to pressing needs in our campuswide infrastructure, by developing key information-related policies that cut across the campus, and by working on effective mechanisms for administration and governance of IT services in a highly distributed environment.
A progress list may be found at www.umich.edu/pres/white/pircupdate.html. This list is not exhaustive, but it does highlight some exciting responses to the report. I encourage you to peruse it, as well as the articles in the Record, which will provide more detail. I also encourage you to return to the Web site from time to time. We will extend the list as more information becomes available. This is only a beginning, but it is a wonderful start.
B. Joseph White, interim president