The University of Arizona

Strategic Priorities, Core Services, Alignment of Resources and New Job Postings

Good Morning,

In a full staff meeting early last fall, we began talking about a need for the transformation of UITS—even with the budget cuts we knew were coming. You will recall that the vision (which remains the same) was clear:  Become the IT Partner of Choice for the University of Arizona by 2012. This vision included a focus on specific strategic priorities and aligning adequate resources around core services to build a foundation for excellence in both existing and new services.

Our presentation included our strategic priorities through 2012:

  • Mosaic
  • Computing Master Plan
  • Network Master Plan
  • Google Apps For Education (student email)
  • Security
  • Email for Faculty and Staff

Even in these extremely stressful and disheartening budget times, remarkably, with your great efforts and focus,  UITS does continue to move toward our vision in some very big ways:  

  • We are making huge progress in the implementation of Mosaic—yes, it is hard, yes it is stressful, but UITS has played a major role in the successful implementation of Human Capital and we are on the verge (next Monday) of the first major go-live for Student Administration.  Wow - not many institutions have the vision to see that you must continue to rebuild  a broken foundation even in the starkest of budget times.  This is important work – it will make us a different institution.
  • We continue to make progress on the Network Master Plan as we upgrade buildings, offices, and expand wireless on campus.  This work continues on a daily basis, and those that do it are truly unsung heroes – thank you!
  • New email service for students is nearly complete.  Through some amazing teamwork and in the face of much adversity, we have converted over 53,000 students to Google and migrated their email!  Congratulations!
  • We are working with Microsoft to finalize the details of moving faculty and staff to Exchange in the Cloud for email and calendaring.  This will be an exciting and much anticipated project for the upcoming year.  The campus will be happy and some work and stress will leave our organization !
  • Security remains in the forefront of everything we do, and the progress toward implementation of our full program continues.
  • Due to budget constraints and focus on other strategic priorities, we have delayed work on the Computing Master Plan—but we hope to take it up again well before 2012.

We know that to achieve our vision of becoming UA’s IT Partner of Choice, moving forward on strategic priorities is not enough. In fact, these strategic priorities are taxing our resources in many ways, as evidenced by the numerous Incident Commands around email down time, security breaches, and website performance. In response, we are taking some initial steps to relieve some stress around personnel resources.

New Positions for Core Service Areas

Our foremost objective is to refocus our personnel and operating funds on building (or rebuilding, in some cases) the foundational (or core) services to an EXCELLENT state. We have defined core services as services a Research 1 Higher Educational Institution Central IT unit must provide in order to remain a contributing member of the institution. Additionally, we believe these services are most efficient and effective when provided centrally rather than at a department level. These core services are:

  • 24 x 7 Help Desk Services
  • Production Services, Application, Database, Environment and Systems Administration Support Enterprise-level applications including but not limited to:
    • D2L
    • AZUN
    • FRS and Kuali Financials
    • SIS, Matrix and PeopleSoft Student Administration
    • PSOS, Budgeting and PeopleSoft Human Capital Management
    • iTunes
    • High Performance Computing
    • Purchasing
    • SEVIS
  • Email and Collaborative Communications (Calendaring, Web Meetings, Etc.)
  • Directory Services
  • Identity Management
  • Data Center Infrastructure, Operations Support and Network Operations Center
  • Disaster Planning
  • Information Security Office – Policies, Procedures and Program Management and Security Operations
  • Data and Voice Network Maintenance and Growth

The effort to move all of our core services toward excellence will include providing them more support (in dollars and people) than we currently do today. To the greatest extent possible, we have used (and will continue to use) tactics such as eliminating certain positions and redistributing personnel and operating expenses to Mosaic and the Student IT fee to generate funding for our objectives. These tactics, combined with money saved from vacant positions, have created some capacity--even after our $883,000 budget cut--to post key positions for several core service areas. You will start to see announcements about these positions starting this week.

We will continue to focus our resources on core services specifically, until such time that we believe we have achieved a standard by which campus will see us as the IT Partner of Choice in those areas.

It is worth noting here that core services are not everything we do or should do, but they are the foundation for our work, and will be a focus area for awhile.

Realignment of Resources for Core Services

In addition to funding new positions to support core services, you will continue to see adjustments in reporting lines as we identify staff and services that should be consolidated for either efficiency or collaboration reasons.

You have already seen some of these realignments, such as Web Services consolidating with Enterprise Application Development, and you will continue to see more.  Recently a team of Assistant Directors and other team leads in UITS met for two days to identify areas where consolidation and realignment will not only create capacity for the entire organization, but will bring together the best practices of several groups to create a premier set of services for our campus. You will be hearing more about their work in the future as we look to implement their great ideas.

My intention in writing today is to remind you that UITS has a vision, we have specific strategic priorities, and we know what our core services are.   This  knowledge guides decisions on a daily basis.  I also want to highlight that through your excellent work we are making progress to our vision, even though, admittedly, some days  it doesn’t always feel that way.

We will continue to evaluate what we are doing, assess how we are allocating resources, and make adjustments along the way as we struggle to balance our budget with our vision of excellence.   This is reflected in the job postings you will be seeing, which is the other reason for writing today – to let you know why we are posting jobs even as we cut positions.

Regardless of your job today or  your job in the future, I would ask that you evaluate your own contributions to UITS and to campus based on the core values that we expect to be an integral part of our work and culture, regardless of what job we do or what service we support:

  • Respect
  • Integrity
  • Transparency

These are the attributes that make you the most valuable to our organization and the University.

Thanks for all your hard work – you are making a difference toward progress for this institution.

Liz Taylor

Deputy Chief Information Officer
Office of the Chief Information Officer
The University of Arizona

Office: (520) 621-4039
Fax:     (520) 621-9222

PO Box 210073
1077 N. Highland Ave.
Tucson, AZ  85721-0073

lizt@arizona.edu