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Principles of Operation

Through time, the Computer and Network Services department (CNS) has developed and implemented a range of programmatic and service offerings. Herein are documented those items which have broad impact to campus units.

Institutional Administrative Database Environment

CNS performs programming and configuration in support of a distributed operational model and is a participant in the development or adaptation of business processes to effectively utilize the University’s database. In this capacity, CNS seeks to promote a level of compatibility, durability, and quality of technology across departments and units campus-wide. It is understood that while CNS facilitates the distributed model, each administrative unit is responsible for its use of technology in support of its daily business practices.

Integrated Instructional Systems

CNS maintains and supports the University ’s electronic course management system (Blackboard) and it also installs, configures, and sustains technology-rich classrooms and campus computer labs. The Office of Instructional Resources (OIR), a component of CNS, supports teaching and learning campus-wide by providing equipment services for classes and events.

Standards for Campus Desktop Systems

In support of institutional cross-campus compatibilities, efficiency, cost effectiveness, and limited human resources, the University has chosen to adopt a primary standard model for office and lab technology while still allowing for the possibility of variation. This model develops positive vendor relations and effective use of CNS’ expertise and staff size. Utilization of standard systems and a primary vendor creates service and cost efficiencies such as the stocking of an inventory of spare parts for on-site repairs, dedicated vendor representation, as well as other intangible benefits like economy of scale.

Support for Non-Standard Systems

In the realm of computer hardware, a preferred and minimum configuration evaluation, through consultation with CNS, enables the university to assess the quality, durability, adaptability, and security of systems purchased outside the standard model. In the realm of software, CNS provides a set of standard services (e.g. install e-mail client, web-client, office suite, virus protection, and system registration) for any computer owned by the University.  When non-standard systems are being considered for deployment, all other software needs as well as hardware support and service become the responsibility of the acquiring department, program, or project. Systems must always conform to a minimum set of requirements before they are registered to work on the campus network. Requests to connect non-standard systems to the University network are made and documented on the Network Access Request form. While CNS does not perform routine compliance validation, should the installed security features become disabled that system will be denied access to the campus network.

Support for New Programs and Special Projects

At the request of the appropriate officer of the University (usually the VPAA), CNS will assist new programs and special projects in acquiring and configuring technology designed to support their missions. Depending upon project scope, CNS may also assist in the identification of ongoing support needs, including but not limited to those requiring additional human resources. It is understood that additional funding will be required to acquire, maintain, and eventually replace technology for these programs and projects.

Addition of new staff/FTE

Normally when staff are hired they replace an existing position and the funding for that position’s computer replacement is already allocated. Replacement staff therefore fall into the four year computer replacement cycle in the same year that has already been established for that position. When new full-time positions are funded, it is the responsibility of the Vice President over each new allocation to so indicate that additional funds must be allocated to the computer replacement program. It is also the VP’s responsibility to secure funding for initial needs which include space, furniture, telephones, and technological resources.

Designation of Mission Critical

Along with the ability of University units to secure technology resources independent of any central process, the responsibility to identify ongoing replacement and repair costs also belongs to the unit. If a technological resource needs to become “mission critical” and therefore be placed on the centrally managed replacement cycle, then a written request for that designation should be submitted to the appropriate Vice President, who will discuss the request with the President and/or Senior Staff.

Utilization of fifth and sixth year computers

In the past, it has been possible to request the utilization of outdated computer systems prior to their removal from campus. Upon signing the Computer Disposal Agreement, these systems are made available with no expectation of service or support. Further, it is understood that while one or two outdated systems would not cripple the university network, the continued utilization of large quantities of outdated systems would have a deleterious effect upon network performance. Thus, unless specifically granted via a written waiver, no outdated computers will be allowed to connect to or otherwise utilize the campus network. Likewise, aging operating systems, which are no longer updated by the vendor, become a security risk to the campus computing environment.

Technology Project Priorities

The ultimate authority for prioritizing technology projects which are critical to the administrative and instructional functions of the University lies with the President and the President’s Senior Staff. Proposals for major projects are forwarded to the Senior Staff through Vice Presidents of each of the University ’s functional areas. Senior Staff will review these proposals with the President, determine their importance to the strategic goals of the University, assess resources available for undertaking projects, and then set priorities for the development and implementation of projects by CNS. Progress on priority projects will be reported to Senior Staff by CNS on a regular basis and the list of project priorities established by Senior Staff will be reviewed from time to time to ensure that administrative and instructional functions are well maintained.