This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

Forum addresses re-evaluating IT to "do it better"

Published: August 11, 2005

Reporter Contributor

As part of the ongoing UB 2020 strategic-planning initiative, 130 members of the university community gathered on Aug. 4 to discuss why the university is re-evaluating the way it does information technology business.

For More Information

go to the UB2020 website

Voldemar Innus, vice president and chief information officer, acknowledged that UB had examined its IT operation relatively recently, in 1996. But he asked the audience, comprised mainly of IT workers, to think about how much in the world of technology has changed since then.

"IT at the institution isn't broken," Peter Rittner, assistant dean for educational technology for the College of Arts and Sciences, said later in the program. "We just want to do it better."


The meeting, which filled 120 Clemens Hall to capacity, began with comments by Innus and Elias Eldayrie, associate vice president for information technology and leader of the IT strategic transformation team, followed by answers to commonly asked questions that had been submitted in advance, then a question-and-answer session with a four-person panel. In addition to Innus and Eldayrie, the panel members were David Costello, assistant dean in the School of Management, and Kathleen Stuber, assistant vice president of development systems and operations in University Advancement.

Staff members seemed most concerned about why information technology is being re-evaluated and questions were raised about whether the goal is cost savings, job cuts and/or a desire to standardize operations across campus.

Innus said that while he can't say for sure what the outcome will be, since the re-evaluation continues through December, the goal is closer to doing more with the same amount of staff and money, as opposed to doing the same with less in both categories.

"The purpose here is not to stymie creativity, but quite the opposite," he added.

Innus said that in some cases, standardization might help the university better use its finite resources, but that in other instances, diversity could be more important than saving money and staff time. Services that don't make UB stand out should be made as easy to provide as possible so that staff can spend more time on "more creative" projects, he said.

He said UB does not have the resources of universities that really lead the pack in on-campus technology, such as Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Michigan, which spend "gobs of money" on new infrastructure. As a public university with a limited number of ways to raise revenue, UB has to be a different type of standout, Innus said. More of an "early follower," he said the university looks to examine trends in the industry, then invests strategically. And while he feels that UB has been effective, "the yardstick is still moving," he said.

Costello addressed another concern. "There's not a hidden agenda," he said. "We're not trying to centralize everything."

Staff also had expressed concerns as to why the strategic transformation initiative required so much data from them.

"As data turn into information and assessment, we're going to be sharing it with you in these town hall meetings," Innus said.

He noted that he plans to continue meeting monthly with staff regarding the UB2020 IT transformation project, through December. For more information, visit or email