June 2018 All-Staff Meeting
Advancing an Information Technology (IT) transformation is one of Michael Kubit’s main objectives in his role as vice president for IT and chief information officer. Explaining the reasons behind the Reimagining IT (RIT) effort was the main topic for the June All-Staff Meeting, attended by approximately 1,000 IT staff either in person or virtually.
The RIT initiative began in April, bringing together fifteen senior IT leaders representing research, administrative IT, outreach, colleges, commonwealth campuses, and Enterprise IT. Information gathering is a critical component of their work, including holding focus groups with deans, chancellors, students, faculty members, IT staff, and non-IT staff, to help determine what is working and what needs to be improved. Michael said he will present the RIT plan developed by the team to University senior executive leadership in August.
Michael articulated three key reasons why RIT at Penn State is critical to the future of the University:
- Penn State deserves an international-caliber IT organization.
As one of the best universities in the world, Penn State should have an IT organization that strives to match the University’s quality. Michael noted that 60 percent of the IT spend is outside of his purview, which makes it difficult to effectively deliver an important foundational service such as IT the way University leadership would like to have it delivered.
- We need to optimize the University’s investment in IT services and support.
Inconsistent standards for people, process, and technology make it difficult to manage the investments in IT. We need to develop a strategy to scale technology innovation in support of the University’s academic, research, and service missions.
- We are currently robbing our capacity for innovation.
Duplicating foundational services such as email systems, firewalls, and networks represent an overinvestment in commodity technologies. The plan is to free up capacity and move those resources to support innovation.
The RIT team joined Michael on stage for a dialogue regarding their work. During the discussion, Erika Shoffner, Human Resources Strategic Partner, said every person on the team recognizes how the effort is about people and how it will impact people. Jen Stedelin, senior director for Strategic Operations, encouraged IT staff to approach the team with any questions or input during the process.
Michael then led a conversation with Executive Vice President and Provost Nicholas Jones and Senior Vice President for Finance and Business/Treasurer David Gray to gain their perspectives on information technology in the service of a modern university.
Provost Jones said it is crucial that IT provides seamless quality and secure, consistent services to students, faculty, and staff members, and to do so, the University needs to move to different models.
Senior Vice President Gray noted that change is constant and we need to challenge ourselves to think about ways to optimize how we maintain infrastructure and services.
Provost Jones added that Penn State can emerge as a national leader in reinventing IT and become the institution others look to when they embark on a similar effort. He said that begins with the University rethinking how to most effectively deliver IT in the most creative, innovative application.