AVP & CTO Update March 19, 2020
Today is the start of the spring equinox! Spring is a time of rebirth, growth, fresh beginnings, new hope after the shorter, darker days of winter. Hang onto hope! It can fuel your spirit and give you energy.
As of today, we will have very few people working on campus, with most of you at home. Those members of our IT community who interact directly with our community via telephone and email are a calming, supporting unit, providing people with the confidence they need that things will be resolved, especially in challenging times and I appreciate the extra effort this week. Our telephone and network teams are coming to the end of their demands so they can also make that transition. It has been a challenging week of hard problems and quickly changing parameters. Great work at staying energized and focused! Many people were able to quickly pivot to provide training for people across campus on new tools for work and teaching – amazing new adoption of our tools is the result – wow! And many people chipped in and found ways to be helpful across service areas and to help us stay on top of the demand. Thank you to all of you for working the long and fast paced hours. And now that we have sustained access to our systems through VPN (thanks Mike, Herman and others!) we know we can continue to do the things we need to do from our work from home environments. As an example, yesterday our distributed teams managed a Mosaic error like rockstars – we’ve got this! 🙂
Like other front line workers everywhere, our IT teams across campus are a critical conduit into our services. From an IT perspective, our work is as vital as ever. We are an essential service, ensuring that people can continue to do the things they need to do from close up or from a distance. We offer the connectivity between people in their homes and campus. The challenges of the last few days with VPN are clear evidence of the critical nature of our work. And that is just one example as people start using technology tools to work, teach, and learn. As someone stated in a thank you email, our IT people are really the glue. Thank you for all of the great work you have done and will continue to do in the days and weeks ahead. And even though we won’t see each other face to face, let’s continue to appreciate each other for all we do. Gratitude is good for our immune systems, too, so lean into it!
Most of the remaining IT community will likely end our presence on campus by the end of day tomorrow, Friday. That is a remarkable shift from business as usual. I am calling this the ‘#NotNewNormal’. Some McMaster people will remain on campus: Food services will continue to support the fractional number of people in residence – we have about 450 International students who will remain. Security Services will continue to have a presence. We have an active Pharmacy on campus. There will still be a presence at the McMaster Nuclear Reactor, and Facilities must continue to maintain the environment. And of course, there will be a large cadre of Health Services folks at the hospital and others from the Faculty of Health Sciences, supporting where they can. We are a little city – it is impossible to fully vacate and for many this is an important way to contribute to the McMaster community and the larger community also. Gratitude to everyone!
As you transition to this #NotNewNormal, I recommend that you don’t think too far into the future. Keep your focus on what you know and can do, and the issues and challenges that are right in front of you. We will give ourselves the remainder of this week and next to recalibrate the way we work together and with our constituents. Appreciate the value of good enough over perfection. Reach out to each other often, using technology tools like Teams to stay connected. Be vigilant about your IT Security practices!
I wish you and your families and friends good health and a very happy start to Spring. Even at an incredible time of change, we can find moments of gratitude and optimism. We are built to survive and thrive.
Take good care,