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Updated 2:15 PM December 9, 2008




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MCommunity uniqname system connects sponsored people

More information about the MCommunity Sponsor System >

The University has a new system to provide uniqnames for departmentally sponsored people: the MCommunity Sponsor System.

The Information Technology Central Services (ITCS) Accounts Office is using it now to set up sponsorships for departments, and soon departmental administrators will be able to use it.

"The Sponsor System allows us, for the first time, to properly manage identities for all members of the U-M community beyond the traditional students, faculty, staff and alumni," says Liz Salley, product manager for Michigan Administrative Information Services (MAIS) Campus Community.

"The new categories reflect the many relationships people have with the University," says Lorene LaVoie of the ITCS Accounts Office. Sponsor System categories include contractors, incoming faculty, temporary staff, VIPs, conference participants, guest wireless users and more.

Vicky Sobieski of the Accounts Office agrees.

"I think the new Sponsor System will be less confusing (than our old system) for departments because of the better category choices," she says. "I suspect many more departmental administrators will want to create sponsorships themselves."

A new file-import option will allow departments to create multiple sponsorships at a time, extensive documentation and built-in checks that help keep identity information consistent across different U-M systems.

When people are sponsored, the Sponsor System checks and shares their identity information with M-Pathways to prevent creation of duplicate entries. Sponsored people get an Online Directory entry as well as an MCommunity entry.

Some sponsored people, such as wireless users and conference attendees, are assigned a temporary uniqname. These uniqnames are intended for short-term use and require minimal identity information for creation. They consist of "um," followed by a number generated by the Sponsor System (for example, um000000).

Other sponsored people who will need entries in M-Pathways, such as contractors, get regular uniqnames — the same three- to eight-letter uniqnames used by faculty, staff, students and alumni.

Key to the Sponsor System is a mechanism for automatic expiry of sponsorships. An end date is required when a sponsorship is created, but sponsorships can be renewed as needed. Temporary uniqnames are discarded when a person's affiliation with the University ends. Regular uniqnames are deactivated but kept in the system. No uniqname, whether temporary or regular, is ever reused.

The Sponsor System is part of the larger MCommunity directory and identity management system, which is being rolled out in stages.

MCommunity already manages the process whereby new students and staff get uniqnames. It generates and sends one-time identifiers that incoming students and staff hired through eMploy use via a Web site to select their own uniqname.

In 2009 a new MCommunity Directory will be introduced to campus. It will eventually replace the U-M Online Directory.

"MCommunity brings together information from multiple U-M sources and organizes, presents and secures it in a way that is particularly well suited to managing access to University resources," says Luke Tracy, technical lead for the project.

When complete, MCommunity will offer departments sophisticated tools for providing people with access to computing services based on their role at the University or even by departmental roles entered into MCommunity by departments themselves.

"MCommunity is going to be the foundation on which most major UMich systems will be built in the future," says Bill Wrobleski, director of technical infrastructure operations for MAIS.

MCommunity is a joint project of ITCS and MAIS.

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