Information Technology has become an integral part of the life of all Americans. In a leading research university, the role of Information Resources is even more pervasive. This situation is not unexpected. A university is society’s locus for the creation, preservation and transmission of knowledge, and information is the raw material for this knowledge industry. In the contemporary world, much of this activity is enabled by technology. The university confronts a changing environment of technology and information resources – changing expectations on the use of technology, changing regulations about the use of technology. In examining the technology environment at the University at Buffalo, we must be mindful of the multiplicity of roles to which it is called.
The greatest IR asset of the University is its intellectual capital. Indeed, the institution relies on innovation and creative thinking to make its reputation. Yet our greatest weakness is the disconnect between IR planning and decision making and that intellectual capital.
We contend that IR is not simply a resource to be ‘managed’ in a traditional business sense. Rather, to the extent that the University identifies itself with innovation and creative activities, IR is an asset to be leveraged, to mark UB as a Top 25 public research university.
The UB IT Environment Team finds that the University
under-invests in technology and IR, relative to leading public
research universities. The University IT effort is shortstaffed for
the number of faculty on campus, compared with support numbers at
other leading public research universities. Given this
under-spending, the challenge for the campus is to develop an
institutional culture that brings about an environment of
collaboration and cooperation.
“The key to future
competitive advantage will be the organization's capacity to create
the social architecture capable of generating intellectual
Can the leadership of the University foster the milieu in which creativity can thrive?
The Team summarizes all findings in the document entitled
“Potential Opportunities” attached to this Report, a
list of actions and areas by which a change in operation may better
position UB’s IR activities. Each “opportunity”
must be fully explored and evaluated – both on its own terms
and relative to the other “opportunities” – to
determine its net realizable effect. This list is designed to
suggest ways to free staff time from routine activities, allowing
them to assist faculty with the research and instructional
activities that bring distinction to the University. Moreover,
several of the opportunities should be viewed as interdependent,
making sense only if the other opportunities in that suite are also
adopted. Four areas drawn from that opportunities list deserve
 Information Technology is the most commonly used rubric to describe the computer, network, software
and other data resources. Especially on a university campus, given the large role of libraries and other data
repositories, we suggest that Information Resources might be a more apt descriptor. Reflecting this
expanded role, we mostly refer to IR in this document, although IR and IT may be viewed as largely
 In “The Leadership Advantage” by Warren Bennis, Leader to Leader, No. 12 Spring 1999