The University Record, February 22, 1999

$3.5M tech upgrade to benefit students, faculty and staff

By Rebecca A. Doyle

About 600 old computers—seven to eight years old, in fact—will move on to a well-deserved retirement, as Campus Computing Sites staff begin unpacking more than 700 new computers to take their place. Provost Nancy Cantor and University Chief Information Officer (CIO) José-Marie Griffiths have funded a sites upgrade initiative that has made over $2 million available for new computers, network upgrades, improvements in computer classrooms, and replacement of broken desks and chairs and worn carpeting in the sites.

Through special negotiations with the computer vendors, Griffiths also was able to offer schools, colleges and departments a one-time opportunity to purchase new computers at prices 10 percent to 27 percent lower than the University’s normal “educational discount” prices. Faculty and staff will be welcoming more than 1,000 new computers to at least 200 University departments and units across campus. Schools, colleges and units have invested an additional $1.5 million for the new equipment.

By negotiating the purchase of $2 million of equipment at one time and submitting it to the vendors as one order, Griffiths was able to save schools, colleges and units more than $700,000.

“We have been very concerned about improving computing resources for students,” said Cantor. “We recognize that technology has become a critical resource for students and faculty to do their work. Upgrading the computers and networks in the Campus Computing Sites had become a top priority that we understood could not be fully funded out of normal operational budgets. Therefore I made the decision to allocate $1.4 million dollars from last year’s state supplemental appropriation to launch this initiative.

“We were very pleased that José, was able to reallocate funds from some other ITD projects to come up with an additional $600,000 to add to the initiative. We are delighted that students will soon be able to benefit from this $2 million upgrade to the Campus Computing Sites,” Cantor added.

“We wanted to upgrade the Sites as much as we could for the money we had available,” Griffiths noted. “By providing this pool of funding, Provost Cantor made it possible for me to go to the vendors and negotiate aggressively for excellent one-time pricing on machines.”

“Our next concern was for faculty and staff to be able to afford to upgrade their equipment as well,” she continued. Griffiths worked with Purchasing and Stores to handle the unexpected response from University units. “We were taken a little by surprise when over 200 departments and units responded, and placed orders for over 1,000 computers, and especially pleased at being able to save the University over $700,000 on computer purchases. It shows what we can do when we federate our resources together for projects that it makes sense to coordinate centrally. “