ITS plans to improve services

Inspired by President-elect Peter Salovey’s commitment to make Yale more innovative and accessible, the Yale Information Technology Service is unrolling a University-wide initiative to enhance its technological resources.

In a Wednesday email to the campus community, University Chief Information Officer and ITS Director Len Peters released a draft of the first University-wide three-year information technology plan and solicited comments from students, faculty and staff through March 8 to help ITS create a final proposal to be published in May. The effort to develop the three-year plan began in the fall and aims to assimilate information and feedback from throughout the University to strengthen its technological capacities. Recommendations in the draft address topics that include technology in the classroom, web and email strategy, and digital storage. Salovey and Peters said they are enthusiastic about using technology to make Yale’s resources more accessible both on campus and across the world.

“What we’re seeking is a plan that when people read it, they recognize that this is a direction that will help enable the University to meet its objectives and its goals,” Peters said. “Technology needs to be an enabler for enhanced teaching, enhanced research, enhanced learning and enhanced university experience.”

Peters said the process of developing the three-year plan began when Peters and members of ITS put together working groups of IT staff and faculty members to address specific features of the University’s technological capacities  — teaching, learning and research, University-wide enabling technologies, emerging technologies, IT foundations, and administrative and core services.

Peters said he hopes to establish a strategy that will sustain Yale IT over a longer period of time, adding that some initiatives such as overhauling and updating Yale’s payroll software will take more than a year to properly implement.

Over the past three months, the working groups conducted research to generate one- to three-page recommendations, which ITS has made available to the public through its strategic planning website, said Jane Livingston, the director of governance strategy and policy for ITS. She added that in the past, student surveys have helped ITS identify where its services needed improvement and that she hopes larger-scale involvement will help the University lay out a better road map for future growth.

“We think the best thing we can do is bring people in, listen to their voices and be as transparent about making decisions as possible,” Livingston said. “We want to make decisions that align with expectations of students, faculty and staff.”

Staff and administrators involved in the project said they were enthusiastic about the University taking a large-scale approach to information technology that involves the libraries, professional schools, Yale College and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Michael Dula, chief technology officer for Library IT and head of the working group on information and digital asset management, said there are many isolated pockets of technological information and innovation at the University, but little sharing of information.

“Getting some commonality of practice will be a big step forward,” Dula said. “This information is fairly decentralized, and it would be useful to understand what everyone is doing and put together some best practices.”

Len Peters was appointed as ITS director and chief information officer in May 2011.

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