Weekly update 2006-05-12

This week: IBM tour, Board meeting planning and project proposals, Regional Network, F&A divisional reorganization, divisional cell phone policy, VCET/PIEMatrix presentation


On Monday, a group of us took a site visit at the IBM-Essex Junction facility. [Mike Austin, Deane Dudley, Keith Kennedy, Randy Spooner, David Todd] We got an overview of what the “fab” plant does (makes chips, mostly), how large it is (3.5M sq ft, 6000 employees), and who its customers are (everyone — no longer a captive supplier to IBM). We talked a bit about how interdependent UVM and IBM are here — they supply part time faculty, and their employees enroll as UVM students. Then we took a tour of the site — mostly one of the large clean-room areas. Very impressive. IBM uses process automation to streamline operations extensively, and the carrier system that transports the wafers is really cool. Couldn’t take photos of the operations, but here are some shots that might amuse you. http://www.uvm.edu/~hdtodd/PhotoGallery.html
There has been a change in the plans regarding funding requests to be put forward at the Board meeting on 19 May. We had earlier expected to request funds for (among other things) the Regional Network (Fiber Ring) that would link the Colchester Research Facility, Tech Park, and a few other off-campus sites back to campus with a redundant network link. Late the prior week, the President’s Executive Council decided to hold off on that and other requests, as requests, and just present the items for Board review at this meeting. [That's generally a prudent strategy for working with a Board, as it is with any audience: tell 'em what you're gonna tell them; tell them; then tell them what you told 'em. :-) ]
As a result, we spent some time late in the week working with Greg Kelly from TelJet to consider alternative approaches. Greg has developed a set of alternative plans that I believe we will be able to execute on. So while this change was a distraction, I think we’ll remain on course to implement the Regional Network as planned.
As a side note, I’m trying to switch the terminology from “Ring of Fiber” or “Ring of Fire” to “UVM Regional Network” for a reason. I think in the long term we might well bring other network projects under that umbrella. For example, we might supplement the fiber ring with long-range 802.11 wireless service for the region. Or if UVM acquires the Union Institute property in Montpelier, we might link to that site with a fiber connection (expanding our “region”). I’d like us to be anticipating that UVM (and in its support, CIT) will be looking for other ways to expand its influence in the region.
The Finance and Administration Associate VPs continue to meet to discuss divisional reorganization. I was surprised to learn that CIT is a “division” in the Peoplesoft definition of the world. The Finance and Administration organization as a whole is called an “Executive Group”. Actually, that makes good sense as you look across the range and size of groups that report to the VP F&A … I was just surprised at the sudden promotion of the CIT organization. :-)
At the VP’s staff meeting on Wednesday, we completed the final revisions to the Division’s cell phone policy statement. The language was relaxed substantially relative to the version that a number of you might already have seen. I think those authorized for cell phones for University use would now feel comfortable carrying just one cell phone, for example, and would not feel the need to carry a second one for personal calls. (Thanks to those of you who raised concerns about that early draft.)
Al Turgeon and I visited (my second visit) with Paul Dandurand, an entrepreneur working out of VCET in Farrell on a system called PIEMatrix (PIE=Performance Improvement Excellence or something like that). It’s a hosted, web-based system for framing major projects and then tracking execution on the project. We think we’ll next ask Paul to do a demonstration for the VP and his direct reports since we think this could be of value in helping us develop and manage projects more effectively.
We had our fifth and last interview of candidates for the VACC Director’s position and forwarded our recommendations to the VP for Research.

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