The University Record, February 11, 1998


Feb. 4 article on information technology initiatives contained inaccuracies

In the Feb. 4 issue of The University Record, the article titled "Campuswide IT Plan is coming," describes a presentation I made to the Senate Assembly on Jan. 26. While the article projects a positive statement about the formation of and issues facing the IT Strategic Directions Group, it unfortunately includes several incorrect quotes and misinterpretations. I would like to share with you what actually was said and provide some clarification.

The article states in two places that we plan to move toward a "one-size-fits-all" workstation and model. These statements are the opposite of what I said. We plan to move away from a "one-size-fits-all" environment, offering those who use technology a choice.

The article says that the University should "work together to negotiate one contract." To conserve our resources, it would be to our advantage to collaborate by negotiating one contract per vendor for the entire University community, instead of each unit working with vendors to obtain needed equipment. The author missed my point that there may be many contracts negotiated with many vendors. We may indeed see a tremendous savings in hardware and software purchases, as well as staff time used to develop individual contracts, by leveraging our purchasing power.

There is an implication that we are considering a plan to provide laptops for the students instead of providing computers at student labs. A quote attributed to me says that the turnaround on machines would drive costs higher. This statement is simply incorrect. The issue of requiring students to own computers is one which surfaces periodically. It is a complex issue and relates to the future network, sites, software distribution and support services we provide. The article further states that the IT Strategic Directions Group is looking at leasing options. This group has not discussed leasing options for the University of Michigan. The group has just been formed and will look at information technology directions and strategies for the University community as a whole.

It is the general feeling across the University that ITD should provide the infrastructure for the University community. This infrastructure must be robust and have the capacity to support what needs to be supported, now and in the future. It must be reliable, available and consistent for all who use information technology at the University of Michigan. That is just what we intend to provide to you.

Jose-Marie Griffiths, chief information officer and executive director, Information Technology Division