AVP & CTO Update December 10, 2018
Good morning colleagues
It feels like the holiday season has begun: I attended the UTS Holiday season kick off last Monday, and the VP Admin Holiday Open House on Friday am. My tree is decorated, my urns are filled with greenery, my door wears a wreath. My stepchildren (Cam and Kate – adults to be sure) were with me for the weekend and we had long meals with friends, laughter, lots of Christmas music, we revisited memories and shared ideas for the future. It is always so good to be surrounded by those we love.
Did you know that the 12 days of Christmas starts ON Christmas Day, not leading up to Christmas Day? Have you heard of the term Twelvitide? I visited Wikipedia for this info … and made a donation TO Wikipedia while I was there … my first ever I will admit. The targeted effort to get Canadians to contribute worked. ‘Tis the season for giving and showing appreciation and I was caught up in the spirit of it all… so yes, the holiday season has begun.
What I learned last week:
- I was at Mohawk College first thing Monday morning to meet with Alison Horton, their VP Corporate Services – very similar to Roger’s role. We were joined later in the meeting by their new CIO, Sinisa Alexa. Similar to McMaster, Mohawk is going through a period of self assessment, working on strategic plans to help guide it towards the future. We will continue to build our relationship and look for potential opportunities to work together.
- I had the opportunity to meet two new UTS employees last week: Michael Thompson, joining Client Services, and Gary Harutyunian, the BA on the Grad Admissions project. I now endeavour to meet with all new employees as part of the standard UTS onboarding, to introduce myself and learn something about them, and to provide an overview of the McMaster IT Strategic Plan and to say a few words about the campus IT culture and our collaborative efforts. It is always great to welcome new members to the campus and to the McMaster IT community. If there are any new members of the various IT teams on campus that I should meet, do not hesitate to reach out! I also want to thank Joanie Cooke and others who have contributed to the onboarding process within UTS as it is an excellent model and has been appreciated by new members of the UTS team.
- President Patrick Deane attended Provost Council last week to discuss the impact the new provincial government will have on higher education, and specifically universities. The full set of policies related to our sector have not yet been released, however there is much to consider. There is an interesting article from the summer in University Affairs that offers limited insight and another at HESA that talks to something a bit more concrete – an expected increase in international student numbers. We are very fortunate at McMaster to have a very adept and connected government relations person, Alex Lawson, senior advisor in Public Affairs, who keeps a close eye on policies and the signals from both provincial and federal governments. She provides regular briefings and updates to our institutional leadership.
- I met with Arig al Shabaih, our AVP Equity and Inclusion. She is working on her own strategic plan to advance McMaster’s policies and processes to support our equity and diversity goals and has active feedback sessions this coming week where you can share your input into her important process. I encourage you to attend! The Equity and Inclusion website has more information on all of the important work happening in this office. While all of us at McMaster will ultimately have a role to play in achieving the goals that Arig sets out, one of the distinct ways in which IT can help is to assist with our advancement on the AODA Information and Communications compliance initiatives. This will fall within the web strategy, one of the initiatives in the McMaster IT Strategic Plan.
- We met our new Cisco Account Manager Sales, Mark Colella on Tuesday. Tom Matrakoukas is moving to a new vertical within Cisco. You may be aware that we have our Vendor of Record (VoR) for Cisco products through LongView Systems. We interact with Cisco directly to help us build familiarity on their products and technical directions, which in turn can assist us with our strategic planning efforts, specific to network and telephony.
- The rest of the week was filled with IT Governance committee meetings, regular team meetings, project update meetings. And so forth. There is a lot of activity happening and it appears that everyone is working hard right until the break. Thank you everyone for your contributions!
What did I read last week:
Becoming by Michelle Obama. A well written autobiography, a compelling listen (an audio book for me), and a book on leadership, full stop. It was very interesting to read her personal account of her childhood all the way through to meeting Barack Obama and their journey together into the White House. She shares her wisdom and optimism and deep family values and her sense of responsibility to one’s community and country. She doesn’t exhibit over the top patriotism – in fact her perspective is much more steeped in realism based on the many challenges faced by being the ‘first’ in many categories in the political arena. She speaks most on the importance of what we say and how we can inspire and validate young people to believe that they can contribute at any level. I highly recommend this book. You can check out a Toronto Star review from the weekend to learn more.
What I am looking forward to this week:
- While last week had many IT Governance committee meetings, this week is peppered with many of the other committee meetings that I participate in: the Crisis Management Group, Roger’s Administration Strategies team, the McMaster Accessibility Council meeting, and the McMaster IT Strategic Planning
- There are a number of regular meetings, as well as a few more festive events including the Provost’s holiday open house and the UTS Holiday Luncheon and All Staff meeting. It looks like another full week ahead!
Have a super week one and all – I hope to cross paths with you at some point this week.