> Office of Planning & Analysis
Information Services Task Force: Final Report
Preface - The Charge to the Task Force and procedures followed
I. Vision - the ISTF vision for the future of information services at MSU
II. Mission - the proposed mission for Information Technology Services
III. Recommendations - the specific recommendations and the rationales
A. Organization of Information Technology Services
B. The Evolution of the Network
D. The Library and other Providers of University-Wide Information Services
IV. Summary and Priorities - the ISTF statement of priorities
V. Conclusion - the ISTF final recommendations to the campus
On September 15, 1994 President Michael Malone appointed the Information Services Task Force (ISTF) to address a wide range of issues surrounding the current status and future of information systems and services at MSU-Bozeman. The members of the Task Force included Bruce Albert, Library; Jerry Coffey, English; Cathy Conover, Employee Relations and Personnel Services; Jim Efta, OSCS; Pamela Hill, Architecture; Chuck Nelson, Registrar's Office; Kim Obbink, Burns Center; Craig Roloff, Administration; Vince Smith, Agricultural Economics; and Chair David Dooley, Chemistry and Biochemistry. In his charge to the Task Force President Malone stated:
We are now at a critical juncture in the development and
operation of the means by which we make electronic
information available to students, faculty, staff, and
citizens....It is time, therefore, that we give attention to
these matters and do so with dispatch, so that we might
enhance our access to information.
All the members of the ISTF strongly agree with President
Malone's assertion that this is a critical time for the
University to examine carefully the status and future role of
computing and information services. Indeed, we are convinced that
it is essential that MSU-Bozeman enhance its computing and
information services in order to successfully conduct its
missions of teaching, research, and outreach. Not long ago the
needs for cutting-edge computing and information services were
largely restricted to the sciences, engineering, and some fields
in the social sciences. Today, as forcefully articulated across
the entire campus, computing and information services are an
indispensable infrastructure for practically every aspect of the
educational, research, and service activities of a land-grant
President Malone specifically requested the ISTF to examine the
In what broad, general directions are information services
at MSU (particularly OSCS, the Libraries and the Burns
Center) likely to be heading during the next decade? (This
should not require detailed consideration of technologies,
but reaching a consensus on major directions on issues like
centralization and decentralization, or the changing nature
As we look to the near future, what are the most desirable
information services that need to be provided to faculty,
students, and staff, and are these services different from
what we provide today?
What are the desired working relationships among the
various providers of information services, especially OSCS,
the Libraries, and the Burns Center for both the immediate
and more distant futures?
What are the most appropriate organizational models for
MSU, given the desired relationships among these information
service providers and the successes/failures of various
approaches used around the country?
As we considered these questions, we rapidly came to the
conclusion that broad campus input was required. Consequently,
requests for information were posted electronically, and mailed
to deans, department heads, and program directors. Members of the
ISTF met with representatives of every college and most
departments, and with representatives from special programs such
as KUSM, the Museum of the Rockies, and Outreach. Two "town
meetings" were organized: one for the faculty in Letters and
Sciences, and one for students and ASMSU representatives.
Collectively, the response from the campus - whether in meeting
attendance, expressed through representatives, or in the form of
individual messages and letters - was tremendous. Committees from
Physics, Math, and Agricultural Economics wrote lengthy reports
with extensive sets of recommendations. Well over a hundred
faculty and staff members contributed individual responses.
Hundreds of pages of thoughtful suggestions were contributed from
every sector of the campus. The number and thoughtfulness of
responses from students were especially noteworthy.
The ISTF also sought advice from two outside consultants: Dr.
William Lewis (Vice Provost for Information Technology at Arizona
State University) and Dr. Larry Rapagnani (Director of Computing
and Communications, Estrella Mountain Community College Center).
Both of these individuals visited campus, met with various
constituencies, held public forums and provided much valuable
insight, advice, and information. In addition, Professor Jerry
Coffey, a member of the Task Force, and Vice-President Rob
Specter, attended the national CAUSE meeting (the most valuable
national forum on information technology at colleges and
universities). Both gave reports to the ISTF outlining their
impressions and insights gained in talking to representatives
from other institutions.
The information gathered through all of these processes was both
broad-based and informed, and led the Task Force to many clearly
supported conclusions. The recommendations contained herein
largely reflect the views of the campus, informed by the
consultants' expertise and the experiences of other institutions.
We found a remarkable degree of consensus among the various
communities that comprise MSU-Bozeman. That consensus was
strongly reflected in the members of the Task Force. All of the
recommendations herein have the unanimous support of the ISTF.
Given the breadth of experience and expertise spanned by members
of the Task Force, this is a remarkable outcome and should serve
to reinforce the recommendations.
The report is organized into the following sections:
I. Vision - the ISTF vision for the future of information services at MSU;
II. Mission - a proposed mission statement for the Information Technology Services (ITS) office;
III. Recommendations - the specific recommendations and the rationales for reorganizing ITS, its
reporting relationships with the central administration, and its interface with the
libraries and outreach;
IV. Summary and Priorities - the ISTF priorities for the immediate and the long-term investment
of central resources;
The Task Force believes that the most critical recommendations
concern the philosophy and reorganization of OSCS. We are
recommending, in response to a campus-wide mandate, fundamental
changes in the orientation, spirit, reporting relationships, and
organization of OSCS.
There are many challenges ahead for the development of computing
and information services at MSU-Bozeman. However, this is also a
time of substantial opportunity. Information and computing
services now have a prominent profile on campus, and expectations
for improvement and expansion of services are very high. At the
same time, there appears to be a general awareness that the
university has under-invested in essential computing and
information services infrastructure, and that additional
resources should be devoted to this area. Efforts to achieve
particular goals, i.e. recruiting a Chief Information Officer,
establishing a structure to support academic computing, migration
to TCP/IP as the network standard, and moving to non-proprietary
standards and vendor independence, need to begin at as soon as
possible. The process initiated by President Malone has created a
climate of anticipation and goodwill as students, faculty, and
staff have shared their frustrations, needs, and plans with the
ISTF and each other. We believe that this report captures fairly
the spirit, intent, and general content (if not the detail) of
what the campus shared. We hope the university will capitalize on
this important opportunity to improve and enhance computing and
information services, and thereby improve our capability to
teach, conduct research, and serve the people of Montana.
Information Technology Services (ITS) exists to enhance MSU's
ability to: serve as a national leader in re-defining the
land-grant mission to better meet the needs of people living in a
rural state; support cutting-edge teaching and research
activities; and improve the academic environment. We believe that
by adopting the recommendations proposed here:
MSU can enhance its national reputation as an innovator in
educational methodologies which prepare our students for
active roles in the 21st century information society.
MSU can become a pioneer in the electronic transfer of
information services to a rural state to support K-12
outreach programs, extension services, and lifelong
MSU can advance its cutting edge research and creative
activities, and more easily disseminate the results of this
work throughout the state and the world.
MSU can support economic development within Montana by
providing cost-effective access to the vast information
We are at a critical juncture in terms of the information
revolution and its impact on the State of Montana. We have an
obligation to train our students in the latest information
technologies so they are able to compete equally with others in
the global economy. Since the Internet and other information
technologies make time and space almost irrelevant, we can no
longer argue isolation as an excuse for being behind the times.
The economic future of Montana may lie to a significant degree in
high technology industries and information services. In expanding
these sectors of the economy, Montana can preserve the quality of
life and the environment while, at the same time, providing well-
paid and challenging work for its citizens. There are real
opportunities now for garnering outside support for the expansion
of information technologies on campus and throughout the state.
High tech industries are increasingly looking to expand into
rural states and may be willing to help. Significant public
funding is also a possibility. One thing is abundantly clear:
MSU, in partnership with the public and private sectors, should
begin immediately to plan, build, and expand the information
technology infrastructure throughout the state.
The mission of Information Technology Services is to provide the
infrastructure and services necessary to support and enhance, in
a cost-effective manner, the university's academic environment,
its teaching, research/creative activities, and its outreach
services at MSU and throughout the State of Montana. The central
computing service (ITS) must, as an essential part of its
respond to the needs of faculty, students, and staff at
MSU, with service to users as the highest priority;
reflect the priorities of MSU in carrying out our teaching,
research, and outreach missions;
provide the highest level of connectivity to our faculty,
students, and staff;
identify and provide new technologies to the campus;
enhance MSU's state outreach abilities, in keeping with
MSU's historical and special role as a land-grant
enhance the ability of MSU's administrative and service
operations to support the teaching, research, and outreach
The advent of distributed computing, the power of the desktop
machine, and the construction of the Internet have driven and
enabled the ongoing revolution in information technologies. This
has escalated the needs and demands of faculty and students for
equipment, support, access, and services. To meet these demands,
the central computing facility can no longer play its historical
roles and follow its preexisting priorities; roles and priorities
appropriate to the era of large mainframe systems and centralized
control are no longer viable in an era where the former mainframe
power is on the desktop. Now individual users best understand
their own individual needs and the resources available in, and
essential to, their particular disciplines. There must be a shift
from a culture of resource allocation and centralized control to
one of user empowerment, support, and service.
The ISTF has endeavored to make detailed recommendations based
upon commonly shared principles while avoiding specific
recommendations of hardware and software. Some of our suggestions
and rationales are inherently technical in nature, but we have
attempted to be as clear and explanatory as possible within the
limitations of a short report.
The ISTF strongly recommends reorganizing the existing structure
within which information services operate. Our proposals include:
the creation of a Chief Information Officer (CIO) position; a
reorganization of the OSCS department; the creation of a single
advisory committee; and the development of a structured process
for communication and coordination amongst the various
information service providers within MSU.
1. Information Technology Services Leadership
ITS should be led by a Chief Information Officer (CIO) who
reports directly to the President and the President's Executive
Council. This reporting relationship is crucial, for it will
allow the CIO to work with the vice presidents as a peer, to
develop a broad-based understanding of campus needs, and to
contribute on issues where technology can help find solutions.
A search for the CIO should be initiated as soon as possible. The
criteria for selection should include thorough familiarity with
the major aspects of a land-grant institution and the role
technology can play in supporting the teaching, research, and
outreach missions. The CIO must be credible with the academic
units of the university and be thoroughly familiar with
instructional and research technologies in an academic setting.
Proven leadership skills are essential since the CIO must be able
to move ITS successfully in new directions which focus on
customer service and empower all campus constituencies in
applying the available technology. Dynamic leadership from the
CIO will be required to ensure that institutional priorities are
supported with the most appropriate and advanced technology
available. This individual must be able to work effectively with
the broad constituencies and far-ranging communities that are
MSU. Since the costs of making these transitions cannot be borne
by appropriated funds alone, it is essential that the CIO have
excellent fund-raising and grant-writing skills. Finally, in
conjunction with ITS and the advisory committees, the CIO should
foster greater communication and coordination among providers of
information services and support staff working in colleges,
departments, and programs at MSU.
2. Structure of the Information Technology Services
The CIO should play a major role in the restructuring of
information services. The current OSCS department should be
reorganized into a division with three departments to serve
separate needs within the university. Those departments would be
1) Academic Computing Services, 2) Administrative Computing
Services, and 3) Network and Communication Services. The division
title should be changed to Information Technology Services (ITS),
emphasizing the customer orientation that is so critical.
Existing OSCS staff would be reassigned to the newly created
departments, and some will undoubtedly undergo a redefinition of
responsibilities as well. Some staff will require retraining to
enable them to develop the necessary expertise required by the
A reallocation of current staff and other resources, as well as
identification of additional financial resources, should be
directed to enhancing support for academic needs. Because the
enhancement of service to academic computing is a major focus of
the Task Force recommendations, it is critical that the director
of the Academic Computing Services department have credibility
with faculty and students. Preferably, the director would have a
terminal degree and teaching and research experience. The CIO and
Director of Academic Computing Services should meet regularly
(perhaps monthly) with each college dean to ensure their
computing needs are adequately supported. This regular
communication will help to formalize the accountability the
academic computing director will have with the academic and
research sectors of the institution.
An innovation component of ITS should be created to span the
three-department structure. This component would be charged with
identifying and evaluating advances in technology and new and
potentially useful applications for the campus community. The
specialists within the innovation component would become the
architects for the future of MSU Information Technology Services.
The current salaries of the OSCS personnel are woefully
inadequate and present serious problems in hiring and maintaining
a well-qualified staff with clear career tracks and possibilities
for advancement. One of the highest priorities in reorganizing
OSCS and one of the first tasks of the CIO should be to bring ITS
salaries closer to marketplace standards.
3. Information Technology Advisory Committee (ITAC)
A user advisory committee should be created to ensure that the
CIO and Information Technology Services are totally conversant
with the needs and priorities of the institution. This committee
would report to the President and the President's Executive
Council, thereby having the same reporting relationship as the
CIO. The committee should be comprised of faculty, students, and
staff, representing Colleges, Administration, Outreach, and
Extension. The chair of the committee should be a user of
information services, not a provider. The CIO would serve ex
officio. Sub-committees could be established to focus on specific
users and services such as telecommunications, central/core
services, academic and research computing, and administrative
The CIO would also be charged with creating a providers
coordinating committee, distinct from the advisory committee,
consisting of other information services providers and support
personnel at MSU. The committee would include representatives
from KUSM, The Burns Center, the Libraries, and Communication
[Please refer to the organizational chart.]
The goal of Network Services shall be to provide the highest
possible level of "open" access to information technology on the
campus to the greatest number of people. "Open access" implies
that computing be viewed not as an enhancement to, but rather as
an integral part of, the university environment. All students and
faculty at MSU should have the same access to resources accorded
users at other institutions, and computing and network
connectivity should be viewed as essential services in the
Being competitive as an academic institution requires an
electronic information environment that delivers a high level of
access and service, and at the same time is flexible enough to
accommodate new technologies and services without losing the
basic core services upon which the business of the university
depends. Success in achieving this requires: (1) some basic,
general level of standardization be provided for individual
desktop resources, and (2) the campus environment be structured
to incorporate change and evolution. It also requires a basic
recognition on the part of service providers that they have an
obligation to be participants in the evolution and innovation
processes. The CIO, in consultation with the ITAC and members of
the ITS, will establish a set of basic standards for services and
system operations that will allow the maximum flexibility for
users to configure their working environments, while also
insuring the integrity of the network and the availability of
services to all users. In order to meet these general goals for
the network, the following standards should be followed.
1. A Non-Proprietary Environment
The MSU network should end its dependence on the DECNET
proprietary model and move as soon as possible to non-proprietary
standards which allow easy integration of hardware and software
from a variety of different vendors. This will allow for the
highest level of connectivity for the various types of platforms
that exist on campus and provide the most cost-effective
solutions for integrating the campus-wide networks with the
state, regional, and international networks. The following are
the basic elements of this non-proprietary environment:
a. UNIX platforms should be the standard central servers.
UNIX has become the standard operating environment for scientific
research, mathematics, and academic computing. UNIX allows for
the integration of the broadest range of applications and
services, and it can best provide services to a "platform-
independent" environment. Any new systems that service the
academic clientele should be UNIX-based.
Existing administrative applications represent a substantial
investment in the proprietary Digital Equipment VMS environment.
Services supporting these applications must continue to be
provided to the university community until opportunities arise to
migrate such applications consistent with the campus path.
Understanding that the process will by necessity be difficult and
time consuming, administrative computing should nonetheless be
expected to follow the migration path of the rest of the campus.
b. TCP/IP (Transfer Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) should
be the standard network protocol.
TCP/IP is the software protocol used on the Internet, which
interconnects universities, government offices, businesses, and
individual computers. To use the Internet, one must "speak"
TCP/IP. As a general principle, proprietary protocols, developed
by individual commercial vendors and sold as part of commercial
packages, should be removed from the campus network, and TCP/IP
should be used for all network communications. Migration toward
TCP/IP should begin immediately. Those departments, laboratories,
and divisions that wish to install and maintain proprietary
networking environments do so at their own expense, or through
their college's distributed support person. The ITS will provide
TCP/IP connectivity and services only, and should not be
responsible for the operation and maintenance of proprietary
local area networks (LANs).
2. A Distributed Computing Environment
A distributed computing environment allows for the easy
integration of disparate types of computers into a single
network, the authentication of users and allocation of resources
from a single point of entry, and the ability to monitor and
maintain the network remotely. This standard implies that the
network be open, non-proprietary, and non-vendor dependent.
a. The emphasis should be on smaller systems with dedicated
functions as opposed to "do it all" large systems.
The distribution of smaller systems around campus would be more
effective and versatile at meeting the disparate needs of the MSU
b. Client/server applications should be emphasized to reduce
network and systems loads.
Client/server applications are computer programs that share the
workload between the user's desktop and the system to which it is
connected. As opposed to "login" applications, client/server
applications reduce system load and use resources far more
c. A standardized file and print sharing system needs to be
established to enable the efficient sharing of resources.
Sharing specialized equipment and information efficiently across
the network is cost-effective and efficient.
Additional elements of a distributed computing environment
successfully implemented at other universities include:
centralized access for network services; automatic account
creation and security authentication; sophisticated routing and
network traffic management systems; and remote monitoring and
maintenance of network systems. Such elements should be
considered by ITS.
3. The Desktop Environment
The desktop computer should meet certain minimal standards for
network hardware, memory configuration, hard drive space, and
operating systems in order to be connected to the common network.
These standards must be vendor and platform independent.
a. A base-line of network standards should be established that
permit choices among several vendors for network hardware.
It is a legitimate concern of network managers that hardware
attached to the network conform to certain standards, that the
operation of the network is not compromised by users who have
non-standard hardware, and that standard hardware that fails can
be rendered harmless to the network automatically.
b. Reasonable guidelines for base-line capabilities of desktop
hardware (computing capacity, memory, hard drive space,
etc.) should be established which allow for vendor
competition and individual preferences and needs.
Again it is reasonable to expect that all new platforms meet
certain minimal standards for processing power, memory, etc., and
that they be capable of running TCP/IP client software. There are
standards that network services can require for any platform
connected to the shared resources. Within the limitations of the
State purchasing requirements, users and departments should be
free to choose their own platform types and vendors.
c. There should be an emphasis on GUI client/server
applications as a means of reducing training times and
delivering information more efficiently.
GUIs (Graphical User Interfaces) are an alternative to the
traditional typing in of text commands. They allow the user to
operate the computer by means of pushing buttons or pointing to
pictorial representations of actions (icons) without having to
memorize complex commands. Examples of GUIs are the Macintosh
operating system, Microsoft Windows, and X Windows in the UNIX
environment. GUIs are quicker to learn and often quicker to
install and maintain once standardized.
d. Every effort should be made to provide hardware adequate to
give every student and faculty member full access to the
shared computing environment and network.
The university should make every effort to provide faculty with
the hardware needed to access the university's computing
services. The university may wish to consider providing faculty
with desktops and network connections at no or reduced cost to
their departments, especially for departments that do not have
large operating budgets or other sources of funding.
The student labs should provide the same levels of access and
technology available to faculty. The CIO and ITAC need to
determine what quantity and staffing of student facilities are
required to meet student needs. Connectivity to dorms should be
available for those students who have their own hardware.
Residence Life should work together with the CIO and ITAC to
insure that each dorm provides a reasonable number of commonly
accessible networked computers, available to residents on a 24-
hour basis. For students and faculty who do not have direct
access to campus network connections, or those who are required
to work off campus, dial-in access should be provided.
4. The Network Environment
The migration to the TCP/IP, distributed computer environment
will require changes in the network systems responsibilities and
the network infrastructure.
a. Central computing services' primary responsibilities end at
ITS shall be responsible for providing network connectivity to
offices, labs, and dorms. ITS and individual departments might
share responsibilities for the maintenance of such things as
proprietary local networks and laboratories by mutual
arrangements, but this should not be considered ITS's primary
b. Fiber-optic cable should be the new standard for the
backbone of the network.
The existing radio frequency broadband technology for the network
backbone should not be extended; instead, funds for network
expansion should be directed toward the installation of a new,
fiber-optic based networking system. The implementation of this
fiber-optic technology should begin as soon as possible.
c. An intelligent routing scheme should be developed for the
campus, and routers must be installed in all major
This will provide the capacity for implementing the TCP/IP
d. A network management standard should be put in place that
will allow for rapid pinpointing and control of hardware
problems on the network.
e. Dial-in access should be supported and expanded to provide
a temporary solution for those buildings that are not
presently connected to the network, and to enable a high
level of connectivity from off campus.
As the campus grows, consideration and planning should be given
to the possibility of multiple Internet connections as a
protection against system failure. This would insure
uninterrupted connectivity and the ability to manage network
The ITS, CIO, and ITAC should identify a set of "core" services
that are of essential value to the university community and
implement them for the entire campus in accord with the
distributed, client/server, GUI guidelines. Such services should
include, but are not limited to: e-mail, file and print sharing,
security, Usenet, Campus-Wide Information Services, Student
Information Services, the World Wide Web, home pages, etc. The
implementation should follow the non-proprietary, vendor and
platform independent scheme.
6. Near-Term Priorities
Some things can be done now, at modest cost, to enhance existing
access and resources. These should begin immediately.
a. The connection of those buildings to the network that do
not currently have connectivity should be given the highest
b. Pathworks 5.1 can provide a temporary bridge from the
existing proprietary file and print services to the TCP/IP
c. The existing VAX hardware should NOT be replaced with VAX
hardware or VMS software.
The only exception is in the case of systems dedicated for
administrative functions, which rely on the existing VMS-based
administrative software. Any systems destined for academic
usage should be UNIX and TCP/IP based.
d. Dial-in access should be supported and expanded to
accommodate those users on campus who do not have network
e. Student labs should be upgraded to open-access, TCP/IP
Computing resources must be seen as an essential part of the
University's general mission, not as luxuries for those who can
afford them. MSU-Bozeman must therefore take steps to insure that
support is available on an affordable basis to all departments
and units across campus. The ITS organization should ensure the
availability of a common set of services, while at the same time
recognizing the unique needs of colleges, departments, and
individuals. To accommodate these diverse needs, a model should
be developed which combines distributed support and central
support. Since no fully legitimized system of distributed support
has existed on campus until now, the general recommendation of
the Task Force is that a system of distributed support be
established and that the central support system be redefined in
accord with the restructuring of OSCS. The specific
recommendations that follow reflect this general reorganization.
1. Distributed Support
The Task Force proposes the creation of cooperative positions,
jointly funded by the ITS and individual colleges, which would
have a reporting line to the ITS organization and would be
accountable to both the ITS and the deans and division heads.
Computers are now essential to almost everyone's daily work.
Hardware failures and software problems can often prevent
individuals from doing their work and must be resolved as quickly
as possible by someone who is knowledgeable, has full access to
resources, and who arrives directly at the site of the problem.
Such a person would be expected to be familiar with the local
environments as well as the general resources. The initial
contact person should be able to resolve the vast majority of the
common problems that occur, but would have access to specialists
within the central organization for the more difficult problems.
Distributed support personnel would receive some common level of
training by the central facility and some specific training
provided by the departments. As a cost-saving measure and to
enhance the availability of support, ITS might consider
developing a cadre of well-trained work-study students to provide
some of the initial contact support. There should also be a forum
in which these distributed support people can interact and share
The number and disposition of these distributed positions will be
decided by the CIO in consultation with the deans and division
heads. The intention is to provide personnel who have the
expertise needed by individual colleges and research units and
who will also maintain coordination and communication with the
central facility and each other.
2. Central Support
There are some areas of support that are best centralized and
that will cut across the three divisions of ITS:
Hardware and Software Support
Provision must be made for the upkeep of legacy systems on campus
and for the repair and upgrading of network hardware. Software
site licenses should be negotiated and license records should be
maintained by central commuting services.
Within the limits of state purchasing and the standards set forth
by the CIO for network connectivity, individuals should be
allowed to choose their own platform hardware and software most
appropriate for the type of work they are doing. It is the
responsibility of ITS to identify a multiplicity of suitable
hardware platforms and software and to assist individual
departments with their purchasing decisions.
Central Support Specialists
In addition to distributed support positions, there need to be
central support personnel who provide services needed throughout
the university community (for example, statistical consultants,
Unix specialists, network specialists, etc.). These individuals
can also serve as resources for the distributed support
3. Areas of Support
Each division of ITS shall have its support responsibilities
redefined according to the following general guidelines:
Academic Computing Support
Academic Computing services should be responsible for delivering
the core computing services to faculty and students throughout
the campus and for the operation of the systems that deliver
them. These core services include, but are not limited to,
maintenance of faculty and student accounts, development and
maintenance of student labs, access to electronic mail and other
network services, and related training and support.
1. Global Student Labs (those centrally owned and operated)
Global labs should provide the same core of services that are
provided to the rest of the academic community. These labs should
allow students to complete their academic assignments in a timely
manner, and provide on-site user support and easy access. They
should be managed by a central person in ITS who is responsible
for the operation of the labs and the training of student
monitors. Students have requested 24-hour access, and every
effort should be made to keep at least one lab open to meet this
need. As a general principle, student computer fees should be
used only to support computing resources directly accessible to
2. Partnerships Labs (those owned jointly by a college or
department and a central provider)
If student or University resources are used to establish and
support these labs, the labs must be seen as a University
resource, and must be managed jointly. Every attempt should be
made to accommodate the specialized needs of faculty and students
outside the immediate college or department.
3. Technological Support of Teaching
Academic Computing should be responsible for researching and
implementing new electronic classroom and teaching technologies.
There is a great need on the campus for computer-assisted
teaching labs and computer demonstration classrooms. It is
desirable to provide every major classroom building with at least
one computer-assisted teaching lab and one computer demonstration
Academic Computing has primary responsibility for supporting the
computing needs of faculty and student research and creativity.
This may include hardware and software support, consultation,
problem solving, and technical advising with grant writing.
The Task Force has identified an emerging need among the faculty
for supercomputing resources. Academic Computing would be
responsible for assisting in the development and support of
supercomputing resources on campus.
In the spirit of the mission of a land-grant institution, and in
cooperation with the Dean of Outreach and the other various
outreach efforts on campus, Academic Computing will assist in
making information resources at MSU-Bozeman available to the
larger community served by the University.
Administrative Computing Support
Administrative Computing has responsibility for the maintenance
of the state and University databases, hardware and software
support of the administrative organization, centralized
administrative information system support, and the legacy
systems. Administrative Computing is also responsible for
providing users with friendly and timely access to the databases
appropriate to their jobs. Administrative Computing should plan
to follow the migration pattern of the rest of the campus.
Administrative computing should develop and support graphical
user interfaces that allow easy access to the database resources
on campus. They should also develop mechanisms by which the data
can be exported to individual users' spreadsheets and word
Network and Telecommunications Support
ITS is responsible for maintaining and upgrading the hardware
that provides connectivity and access and for supporting
sufficient maintenance personnel to ensure the continued
operation of the network.
In addition to the current OSCS, various other units of MSU, e.g.
the Library and Burns Center, provide university-wide information
services. A variety of computing and operating systems have been
developed by these units to fulfill their respective missions. To
allow the MSU community to take full advantage of all the
information services available at MSU, all providers should bring
their information services into conformity with the campus
standards proposed here. For example, some of the library's
present network consists of proprietary technology, which hinders
general outside access to the Library's own resources and to
networked services or databases from within the Library. In order
to function effectively, staff and faculty in the Library and
other units who provide university-wide information services need
desktop access to those resources essential to their role. This
access is essential to providing the kinds of services mandated
by an electronic resource age. An additional problem faced by the
Library is that many of its access points are outdated terminals
which cannot provide access to the kinds of resources the
university community needs, nor can they provide access according
to the TCP/IP, graphical environment described in these
2. Recommendations and Priorities
1. Migration toward non-proprietary, TCP/IP, UNIX-based,
graphical interface standards: All providers of
university-wide information services should begin to
migrate their services toward those standards proposed by
the Task Force when feasible. No new investments in
proprietary technologies should occur. As the need to
replace, redesign, or expand existing proprietary systems
occurs, they should be replaced with systems that meet the
standards proposed by the Task Force.
2. Systems design and operation: Major purchasing decisions
regarding electronic information systems should be made
cooperatively among the unit, ITS, the CIO and ITAC, to
insure that services are compatible with the campus
3. Access: Providers should endeavor to establish a
standardized, single-access point, such as a WWW homepage,
for the coordinated delivery of its services to the
university community. Providers should begin migration away
from outdated terminals and proprietary technologies, and
utilize available resources to provide the campus community
with efficient, orderly access to information resources
according to the standards identified by ISTF.
4. Systems and Support: Systems should be supported according
to the distributed support model proposed by the committee.
In addition, a cooperative relationship between providers
and ITS must be fostered, such that the resources of the
ITS will be available to the units to help integrate their
operations into the standardized environment.
5. Information resources: No new electronic information
resources that are incompatible with, or cannot be made
compatible with, the environment recommended by the Task
Force should be obtained. Those electronic resources that
presently exist in the Library collection should be
migrated toward the Task Force's recommended standards. In
cooperation with relevant faculty and colleges, the Library
(and, where applicable, other providers) should establish
means for identifying and cataloging networked resources of
interest to the university community, as well as devise
Our recommendations are summarized below and grouped into broad
categories. In addition, we have marked with bold those
recommendations that are directly related to the highest
priorities for the investment of central university funds, or
reflect an overwhelming mandate from the campus and the
consultants, or both. These recommendations are what the
university should do first in order for its students and faculty
to remain competitive and for the university to meet contemporary
standards for information technology.
A. Recommendations on Organizational Structure
We unanimously and strongly recommend that a Head of
Information Technology Services at MSU with the title of
Chief Information Officer (CIO), or similar title, be
appointed. We further unanimously and strongly recommend
that the CIO report directly to the President, be a peer of
the vice presidents and Provost, and discuss all issues
related to information technology on a regular basis with
the President and vice presidents. A major responsibility
of the CIO will be to seek public and private funds so that
the recommendations presented herein will not have to be
financed solely out of general funds. The CIO must be
thoroughly familiar with all aspects of a modern university
and the roles of technology in supporting research,
education, and outreach. The CIO must have experience,
expertise, and credentials such that he or she can be a
credible contributor to both academic and administrative
decisions and policy.
Information services should be reorganized into three units
that serve: (1) academic computing; (2) administrative
computing; and (3) the network and infrastructure. The new
name of this organization should be Information Technology
Services (ITS), which reflects an important change in the
role and focus of the information services on the MSU
campus. The ITS unit shall report directly to the CIO. ITS
should have an innovation component that spans the entire
three-part structure. Enhancement of academic computing is
a major focus of the recommendations. Thus it is critical
that the leader of academic computing services has
credibility with faculty and students.
A new Advisory Committee on Information Technology should
be appointed with faculty, student, and administrative
representation. The CIO will be an ex officio member of the
committee, and the committee shall report directly to the
The CIO shall create a coordination committee, distinct
from the Advisory Committee, consisting of information
services providers, including KUSM, the Burns Center, the
Library, and Communications Services.
A reallocation of resources should take place to create the
three-part ITS structure. If more resources become
available in the future, the vice presidents should make a
priority of allocating funds to information technology.
Relatively more central resources should be devoted to
academic computing support, where the need is greatest.
B. Recommendations for the Evolution of the Network
The network and central services should migrate toward:
A distributed computing environment with TCP/IP as
standard network protocol;
UNIX as the standard for servers supported by central
Platform independence, especially for non-administrative
MSU-Bozeman should adopt non-proprietary standards for
information systems and services.
Within State purchasing guidelines, the principle of vendor
independence should be adhered to for all procurement.
All non-residential buildings on campus must be connected to
the network, and greater access must be provided to the
C. Recommendations Concerning Support
All departments will need some level of support for
administrative functions and student services. Staff support
for personal computing applications shall be handled largely
within departments. Support for systems software shall be
provided by the individual administrative offices that
manage the programs. Only tasks requiring more computing
knowledge than is available from these offices will be
handled by the ITS office.
MSU-Bozeman should create a category of jointly-funded
support positions to be distributed and accountable to
individual academic or administrative units. These positions
will report both to their respective units and ITS. The CIO,
Provost, and VP for Administration will decide how to
mutually fund and distribute these cooperative support
Academic Computing Support
Support should be provided for the two categories of student
labs that exist on campus:
College/departmental computer labs should be run as
partnerships between central services and academic units.
These arrangements should be flexible to allow for differing
needs among these labs. If student fees or central resources
are used for college/department labs, access must be
provided for all students on campus. The CIO and Advisory
Committee should have input into the operation of all
student computer labs. Support for non-departmental/college
use will be provided by ITS.
For general computer labs supported solely by student
fees, the CIO and ITS will work with the academic units to
maintain and support these labs. ITS will have, as its
highest priority, operating these labs in ways that will
provide the highest level of access and support for students
Student computer labs should be upgraded to provide current
software packages, as well as standard operating systems and
working environments. Hours should be extended to meet the
The CIO/ITS/Advisory Committee will identify a baseline set
of core central support services that will be provided to
the campus. These central services will include programming,
consulting support, and centralized systems support. Unique
departmental and college needs will be served by the
jointly-funded, distributed support staff.
Central support should provide appropriate resources and
people to bring new technology into the classroom.
Innovation for core services will be the responsibility of
the entire ITS organization. Distributed support staff will
have the responsibility of leading innovation for unique
department and college needs.
The CIO shall work with deans and departments to bring
various college and department support staff on campus
together for communication and coordination.
ITS will continue to provide off-campus access support.
Administrative Computing Support
Support for essential administrative services will continue
to be provided by ITS along current lines, subject to
revision and reallocations mandated by the CIO and the
ITS shall maintain essential legacy systems during the
migration to new systems and standards.
D. Recommendations for the Library and other Providers of
University-wide Information Services
These providers shall also migrate to TCP/IP and follow the
standards established for the rest of the campus.
All units should follow the model of other colleges and
departments with respect to communication with ITS.
Major decisions regarding information services within these
units shall have mandatory input from campus, i.e., through
the CIO, ITS, and the Advisory Committee.
E. Additional Services that MSU Should Seek to Provide
An appropriate computer should be provided for all tenured,
or tenurable, faculty who want one and will use it.
Requirements of new faculty for information services and
hardware should be addressed and accommodated at the time of
Connectivity to the network should be provided to all non-
residential buildings on campus and increased access
provided for all dormitories.
Supercomputing capabilities should be an important long-term
goal. These capabilities should be based on shared resources
among various units of the university for cost efficiency.
It is likely that MSU funds can be leveraged with soft funds
to accomplish this goal.
Additional kiosk information services for students should be
Interactive video connectivity needs to be expanded.
F. Priorities for University Investment
The Task Force recognizes that many of its recommendations may
require reallocation of scarce central resources. A variety of
options may be available to implement the recommendations and a
variety of internal and external funding sources might be
identified. Nonetheless, it is clear that funding the proposed
changes in information technology will require compensating
sacrifices in other areas of the University. With that in mind,
the Task Force felt that it was its responsibility to establish a
prioritized list to guide the campus community in the very
difficult decisions now before them. In this context, we
unanimously agreed on the following relative priorities for the
use of central university resources.
Appointment of a CIO and reorganization of OSCS into ITS.
Desktop computers for tenurable faculty whose
teaching/advising/research require them.
Networking all non-residential buildings at MSU-Bozeman.
Migration to non-proprietary TCP/IP protocols.
Distributed support personnel.
Enhancement of student computer labs to provide improved
network access and services.
We have also identified the following needs that may warrant the
investment of central university resources. These are accorded a
lower priority by ISTF than the items above and are listed in no
Greater network access and connectivity to dormitories;
Bringing modern information technologies into the classroom,
perhaps with support personnel to assist faculty in
developing new ways to teach using information technology
and network access;
Providing additional student information kiosks;
Expanding and enhancing central UNIX services.
The single, most central conviction that motivated the work of
the ISTF, and provided the context for our recommendations, is
the conviction that improved computing capabilities and enhanced
access to and delivery of information are critical for the future
of MSU-Bozeman. Information systems and services are now
essential infrastructure for all of the university's activities
and missions. The needs for access to information and for
increased computational power will continue to grow rapidly.
Sharing information effectively among the various campuses of MSU
will be pivotal to system integration. As the United States
continues its transformation into a "knowledge-based" society,
the life-long acquisition of knowledge and the continuing
development of critical-thinking skills will become increasingly
important to every citizen. For all of these reasons, we are
convinced that now is the time for MSU-Bozeman to commit
significant resources in time, effort, and funding to articulate
a new vision and expanded mission for OSCS, to reorganize that
office, and to make fundamental changes in the information
systems and services infrastructure.
The ISTF received an enormous number of valuable suggestions
during its information-gathering phase. The report reflects, to
no small degree, the best advice and wisdom from every segment of
the campus. There now appear to be high expectations across
campus that substantial efforts will be made to significantly
improve computing and information services at MSU. The Task Force
must also note that there is an enormous amount of goodwill all
across the campus and a real willingness on the part of faculty,
students, and staff to help make these proposed recommendations
happen. It cannot be emphasized too strongly that improvements in
information technology cannot just come from the top down.
Success will require everyone's continued goodwill and best
efforts, and the commitment of resources from every part of the