ITPAC Meeting Minutes: November 12, 2008

Last edited November 19, 2008 by Steve Lasley.


  1. Approve Prior Minutes
  2. Administrative Updates
  3. Past items for administrative notice
  4. ICC Updates
  5. IT Updates

Call to Order

This meeting was scheduled in McCarty D, room 1031 a few minutes past 9:00am on Thursday, November 12, 2008. The meeting was called to order by chairman Allen Wysocki.


Thirteen people attended this meeting locally with no attendees via Polycom videoconference.

Eleven members were present: Dan Cromer, Keith Gouin, Brian Gray, Joe Joyce, Steve Lasley, Sheri Munn, Dave Palmer, Michelle Quire, Wendy Williams, Ashley Wood and Allen Wysocki.

Four members were absent: Steve Johnson, Mary Anne Morgan, Brandon Segermeister and Pete Vergot.

Two guests were in attendance as well: Jan van der Aa and Bernard Mair.

Audio Archive

An archive of audio from the meeting is available.

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1.) Approve Prior Minutes

The minutes of the last meeting were approved without dissent.

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2.) Administrative Updates

2.1) IT reorganization at UF

Dr. Joyce reiterated his comments from our last meeting that Chuck Frazier has been appointed interim CIO for UF.

2.1.1) CIO Taskforce

Dr. Joyce related that he, along with our two guests today, was part of a Taskforce appointed by Dr. Frazier which was given a number of processes (involving governance, funding and infrastructure) to arrange implementation for by January 1st. The taskforce "pushed back" fairly hard on those items. While Joe believes all would agree these are important issues, he also feels we need to be careful about how we deal with them.

2.1.2) Three aspects are being examined

  • Governance: How are we going to manage IT policy on this campus? Chuck Frazier expects to be the interim CIO for roughly a year and his plans include a search for a permanent CIO. Joe has not heard anything different than that, but considering the budget climate we will have to wait and see how that goes.
  • Funding: $100 million are spent yearly for IT on this campus. About half of that is spent on centralized core IT and the rest is distributed out to the various units. The intent is to spend some time defining what "central core IT" involves; this clearly includes such things as Bridges and Academic Technology. We want to look at what those are currently costing us and how they are organized within our governance structure.
  • Infrastructure: We also want to look at what makes sense to add as central core services. Everyone seems to agree that a distributed model will continue to be important in many areas.

2.1.3) Structure and governance are critical

Jan van der Aa said that defining the role of the CIO and our overall governance structure are important aspects of what needs to be done. Currently, all this is still very much at the discussion stage.

2.1.4) Taskforce role deemed critical for success

Joe mentioned that Kyle Cavanaugh was the one who had been pushing for a CIO and he is leaving. No one is sure what effect that will have on all this, but the Taskforce still exists at this point and they met as recently as last Friday. Joe added that Mark Orazem of the Faculty Senate Infrastructure Committee has provided valuable input from the faculty perspective.

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2.2) Budget situation

Dr. Joyce indicated he really had no recent news on the budget situation. There has been a 4% hold-back for this fiscal year. The legislature is looking for the November 21st revenue estimation before deciding what needs to be done. We do know that state revenues are down $2-3 billion. Lottery revenues are down $500 million or about 25%. There will be a budget impact from all this but we don't know how great that will be or even when it will happen. Most effects will likely occur next fiscal year starting July first of 2009.

2.2.1) Any word on freezes?

Al Wysocki asked if there had been any mention of hiring freezes. Joe said that new positions to be paid from general state revenues are not being created. They would only consider filling faculty hiring packages for special cases where someone offers funding for 3-4 years.

2.2.2) Regional Advisory Councils

There are five Regional Advisory Councils around the state consisting mainly of our clientele. IFAS administration visited with these groups and discussed how our budget situation had changed between the 2007 and 2008 fiscal years. They showed them where the money came from and what guiding principles have been used in allocating the needed reductions. Those groups agreed with the strategy used and much good discussion ensued. Those groups were very appreciative that this information was shared with them and now understand much better our fiscal situation as well our limited means for dealing with the situation.

Some of the advice received back included not ignoring our infrastructure. They also raised the point that maintaining quality facilities helps morale in a bad situation. We have to pay utilities and are trying increase the energy efficiency of our older buildings. We have taken down a number of very inefficient buildings around the state.

2.2.3) 10% budget cut exercise

In response to a question from Sheri Munn, Dr. Joyce stated that the Center Directors, Department Chairs, and the Admin Council have been asked to take a look at how they would manage a 10% cut. This is just an exercise to start us thinking about how we might handle things if and when a cut proves necessary.

2.2.4) New hire for governmental relations

Ashley Wood praised the selection of Mary Ann Gosa as replacement for Cindy Littlejohn. Joe noted that Cindy had exceeded our wildest dreams for a legislative affairs person and that it was a daunting task to look at replacing here. He believes we have been very fortunate in getting Mary Ann to step into that role. Mary Ann comes to us from her duties representing Farm Bureau. Previously she worked 8 years on Representative Burt Harris's staff in Polk County. She has worked with Senator Childress and his staff for about two years and has been with Farm Bureau since about 1996. She also sits in on the Ag Coalition, which is the lobbying team from all the commodity groups, and comes from an agricultural family (Stokes--cattle ranchers).

Mary Ann starts this Friday and Cindy will continue on the payroll for a couple of months to aid in the transition and to introduce Mary Ann around up in Tallahassee.

2.3) Senior VP for IFAS transition

Al Wysocki asked if there had been any discussion on the VP transition now that Jimmy Cheek has accepted the job of Chancellor for UT Knoxville. Joe responded that there wasn't much to say on this currently. Jimmy has announced he will begin his new position February first. Jimmy expects to leave here sometime in late January and does not want an interim named for some months.

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3.) Past items for administrative notice

3.1) Status of previous ITPAC recommendations

3.1.1) The RDU revision proposal

Joe said that he believes the deans have finished working out the details on our RDU proposal. Management of our Workload increase data is going to remain with Program Evaluation Development. They may still work web "visits" into the formula, but are concerned that the expected large numbers for those not bloat things in a difficult to explain fashion.

3.2) Other pending issues

3.2.1) Web Domain Policy

Dr. Joyce indicated his understanding that we were finished with this issue. Dan Cromer responded that the policy has been written and discussed at length, but that it had not yet been published as an IMM. Joe responded that we just need to get that to Alice Croft so she can add that to the appropriate location. Ashley Wood responded that this was no problem and that he would take care of that right away.

3.2.2) ICS/IT/EMR consolidation

Joe related that this is moving forward. IFAS IT's Ann Hutcheson is retiring in January and they have already begun handing off her duties to Renea Bohannan in ICS. That process seems to be going very well. The business manager for External and Media Relations will be nudged over before long as well. Larry Arrington and Joe have drafted a job description for the new head of this consolidation which was reviewed by the VP/Deans last week. A few changes were made and the plan is to go forward with that.

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4.) ICC Updates

4.1) No new formal recommendations to offer

Steve Lasley reported that the ICC had no new formal recommendations to offer at this time. He did, however, mention a few topics which the ICC have been discussing and considering during the last couple of months.

4.2) Public folders to be removed from our file servers

Steve mentioned that, due to security concerns, the decision has been made to remove public folders from our file servers. Alternative means of sharing files across IFAS will be provided. The method most recommended is to utilize SharePoint. There has also been some talk of developing a web interface which would allow one to upload a zip file and e-mail a link to that.

Michelle asked if the public folders on Exchange would also be removed. Steve replied that those would not be affected; we are speaking here only of the public folders on our file servers.

Michelle asked if there was a particular date on which the public folder would be removed. Dan Cromer responded that a date has not been set. Considerable preparation will be involved as we would want this to have minimal impact on our users.

4.3) Barracuda default settings change

Steve mentioned that the ICC has continued to try to effect progress in getting the Barracuda default settings changes, as has been discussed and recommended here. This matter has still not been resolved and Mike Conlon is insisting that we individually contact each person on a "high volume user" list. While considerable progress has been made on that, a considerable number are proving difficult to contact. We would prefer that Dr. Conlon allow Dwight Jesseman to run a script that he has prepared which would set "Use System Defaults" to "No" for these people. If that were done, they would not see any effect of the proposed change and we could move ahead immediately. This matter has now gone on for over 10 months without resolution.

4.4) E-mail attachments older than 30 days are now being archived

Steve noted that UF Exchange is implementing MailMeter software which will offload e-mail attachments to less expensive storage and replace those with web links. This process has saved a tremendous amount of expensive space on the mail server. Perhaps the greatest effect for users is that network access will be needed to access those; previously those attachments would have been cached locally and available off-line.

Michelle Quire asked how long the archived attachments would be kept. Dan Cromer responded that they will be retained until the associated message is deleted.

Steve mentioned one other problem he has noticed. He used to keep instructions for his users as messages containing text interspersed with screenshots; those he would forward to individuals in order to explain how to resolve certain problems or use certain features. This attachment archival now removes the screenshots from those saved messages, making them much less useful. Other than these minor issues, however, the process has proved unproblematic and is certainly saving considerable money.

4.5) SharePoint

Al Wysocki mentioned that he receives an error when closing Outlook and asked if that was related to recent changes in SharePoint. This is indeed due to some restructuring which has occurred; our new SharePoint structure now involves a single "My.IFAS" access point rather than having multiple access points for the various organizational groupings within IFAS as was previously the case. While this simplifies access overall, this change did involve moving items. It is highly likely that Al has a link to a SharePoint calendar which has now moved. He should be able to close that item within Outlook and re-link to the new location from within SharePoint.

Michelle related that her departmental shadow system is deployed on SharePoint and is working very well. She complemented Ben Beach highly on how well he has handled the SharePoint implementation roll-out.

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5.) IT Updates

5.1) SharePoint is in production

5.1.1) Training has begun and usage is growing gradually

Dan Cromer stated that this had already been discussed somewhat, but the new "" SharePoint implementation is now in production and he believes it is working very well. The Northeast District held a training session on this which reportedly went well and people are beginning to use this service more and more. The plan is for this service to assist in collaboration replacing the need for e-mail attachments or sharing documents via the file server.

5.1.2) Preventing being prompted continually for credentials

Keith Gouin asked if Ben planned to push out a fix for the need to supply credentials when accessing SharePoint. Dan Cromer responded that this involves each user adding the site to their browser's list of "Local intranet" sites. Michelle Quire has created instructions on doing this. Steve mentioned that it may be possible to set this for people automatically via centrally managed GPO preferences; that may be worth investigation.

5.1.2) Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences already heavily involved

Michelle mentioned that her department is already heavily reliant on SharePoint. They maintain a fiscal shadow system there and have used its survey system for department-wide voting quite successfully.

5.1.3) How can SharePoint usage be encouraged?

Al Wysocki asked how departments might learn about how to use SharePoint. Dan Cromer responded that the service is available but using it will require that someone at the unit take the initiative to learn it and introduce it to their group--as Michelle has done. Michelle noted that she wished that IFAS Sponsored Programs could be encouraged to use it because she believes it would be so valuable for them. Brian Gray responded that he continues encouraging them in that direction, but there has been some resistance to change.

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5.2) E-mail attachment archiving

This matter had also been discussed earlier and Dan asked if there were any further questions.

Al Wysocki asked why he is always prompted for a password within Outlook. Previously he had asked the program to save that but this feature no longer seems to be working. Dan Cromer suspected that this is due to Al's client being configured to utilize Outlook Anywhere.

5.3) Automation of faculty annual activity reports

Bernard Mair mentioned that they are trying to automate these and asked if IFAS had made any progress on that. Joe responded that he didn't believe we were working on that, but Michelle mentioned that she has plans to redo those forms to be fillable using Adobe Acrobat 9. She previously found Acrobat difficult to use, but has been extremely pleased with the new Adobe Acrobat 9 forms capabilities. As long as faculty members have the free Adobe Reader installed they will be able to fill out those forms on their computers and send them back.

5.4) New IMM for Listserv

Dan Cromer mentioned that the new IMM for Listserv has been implemented as section "d)" of IMM 6C1-6.150-4. We now have moderators for IFAS-ALL-L, IFAS-ANNOUNCE-L and IFAS-FACULTY-ALL-L.

Jan van der Aa mentioned having similarly moderated lists at the HSC. He noted that they have found it useful to permit certain individuals to bypass moderation on certain lists. Joe responded that we have handled things likewise.

Dan Cromer added that we have enabled confirmation to prevent spoofing. When someone sends to the list they get a confirmation e-mail which must be responded to prior to the message going out.

5.5) IFAS license for

5.5.1) Survey usage should be coordinated

At Ashley Wood's prompted Dan mentioned that IFAS now has paid for an account for use with Dan mentioned that it is important that those performing surveys coordinate with Cheri Brodeur and Diane Craig of PDEC. We don't want to duplicate effort and designing surveys so they provide useful information is not particularly easy. Joe Joyce noted there are also human subject issues which are extremely important to be aware of and to take into consideration.

5.5.2) No current policy on which lists may be used for survey notices

Jan asked if IFAS has a policy that permits survey request notices only on the IFAS-ANNOUNCE-L list. Are those permitted to others as well? He asked because if such notices are permitted on official business lists, they might have a tendency to be seen as spam by some. Dan responded that the IFAS-ALL-L list can only come from the deans or the Sr. Vice President. Surveys from other faculty would have to go to the IFAS-ANNOUNCE-L. Joe said that certain of these may go to IFAS-FACULTY-ALL-L and there isn't current policy forbidding that.

5.5.3) Can SharePoint replace SurveyMonkey?

Dan Cromer suggested that SharePoint might replace the need for renewing the SurveyMonkey license next year. Our next step with SharePoint is to provide external collaboration so that Gatorlink accounts would not be necessary in all cases. Al pointed out that support for outside collaboration would definitely be needed if SharePoint was to replace SurveyMonkey usage. He went further to indicate that SurveyMonkey doesn't require participants to have or create usernames at all--nor to login. Dan wasn't sure if SharePoint could support anonymous access as it hadn't occurred to him that we might want that.

5.5.4) Caution advised in announcing this capability

Ashley suggested that Dan put out an IFAS-ANNOUNCE-L message on this matter. Dave Palmer responded that if news of this capability was released to IFAS-ANNOUNCE-L we might be overwhelmed by surveys. He believes there are a lot of folks out there wanting this capability--especially regarding external clientele. If we are going to recommend that surveys be coordinated with PDEC, then such usage could easily overwhelm them.

Ashley responded that anyone creating a survey through WebMonkey will be doing that themselves. The reason that this is probably best housed in PDEC is that they are there as a resource in providing assistance, but Ashley didn't believe they had the time to look at each survey being done. Michelle pointed out that Duke University has suffered millions of dollars in fines due to IRB; we don't want to repeat that here. If random surveys go out without someone here monitoring things and ensuring that IRB is being followed, then we will be in for some serious trouble.

Joe asked that Dan Cromer get with Michelle Quire and Susan Blair and work with Cheri and Diane to draft some kind of policy message regarding survey usage. This will need to address issues to avoid and how surveys should be handled. Michelle suggested that IRB approval numbers should be required on surveys.

5.5.5) Torrance Zellner has left the Help Desk

Dan noted that Help Desk staff now includes only Dan Christophy and Ed Steele. Instead of trying to fill the position vacated by Torrance, the plan is to utilize OPS. This is not nearly as good a situation (it is similar to what we had back in 2000 and prior) but the budget situation is deemed to warrant this move.

Ashley mentioned that he and Dan should continue their discussions about Lance Cozart assisting with Help Desk duties--as long as Lance attends to ICS issues as his first priority. Dan hopes that Lance can fill in particularly regarding videoconferencing support now that Tom Hintz is retiring at the end of this month.

Dan also mentioned that he should have included Scott Owens, who provides e-mail support through the Help Desk.

5.5.6) WAN outsourcing to CNS going well

Dan noted that James Moore is dedicated to IFAS wide-area networking and has done very well. Al asked if Pete Vergot's concerns had been addressed. Acquiring new circuits at Okaloosa and Bay had been an issue. Dan believed the Okaloosa has been taken care of but they are still working on Bay County; James is having difficulties obtaining competitive quotes there. Joe suggested getting sealed bids all to be opened on a set date.

Joe mentioned that Tim Fitzpatrick or one of his people contacted us wanting to know how much each county paid for connectivity, phone costs, etc. They were trying to get together a state-wide contract for that. Joe had responded back that this was just too difficult to do and not to bother the counties about getting that info. The mixture of how that is done across the various counties is too diverse to ever permit coordinating a state-wide contract.

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Next Meeting

The next regular meeting is tentatively scheduled for February.

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Items for Administrative Notice

  1. Dr. Joyce gave the go-ahead on the proposed Web Domain Policy. Ashley Wood will put that in IMM format and get it to Alice Croft for publication.
  2. Dan Cromer was tasked to get with Michelle Quire and Susan Blair and work with Cheri Brodeur and Diane Craig on a survey policy statement.

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