Weekly Update 2008-04-18

This week’s topics include: Board BFI meeting; CTSA review of the FAHC Prism project; Senate presentation on portal; Ohio Telehealth videoconference; Educause IdM webinar; VP Gower’s resignation.

Good Morning, All,
Well, the week started off with the Board Budget & Finance Committee meeting on Monday morning. I was there for a bit of Ted’s presentation on the preparation of this year’s budget — the parameters, etc. The good news is that while budgets are being cut in many state universities across the country, UVM’s budget continues to increase. The bad news is that there’s never enough to do all that we’d like. But all in all, we continue to do extremely well in managing to grow as planned. This meeting was preparation for the May Board meeting at which the budget will be approved, but it seems to be pretty well settled at this point.
I had to leave for a CTSA meeting, and when I returned, the discussion had moved to the student fees. The Board engaged in a very thoughtful discussion about how student fees are approved and the process for managing the funds once they’ve been collected — two specific fees got their attention. There is likely to be further discussion that will eventually resolve to a policy about how such things are managed.
The Clinical Translational Science Award (CTSA) meeting was a discussion of the implementation of the Prism project, FAHC’s implementation of the Epic electronic medical record system, and how the information maintained in that system might be accessed for research purposes. Epic is scheduled to be implemented by May, 2009, and will represent a significant change in work flow for FAHC physicians and staff.
At the Faculty Senate meeting on Monday, Registrar Keith Williams gave a presentation and demo of the new UVM portal system in draft form. The faculty were very positive in their responses to the demonstration and to Keith’s answers to their questions. The portal should make it much easier for faculty to manage and administer their courses, and they were obviously pleased with what they saw.
On Wednesday, I participated in a Telehealth conference convened by the Governor of Ohio. Rather than fly to Columbus, I sat at my desk and participated by video conference. Some of you know that I’ve long had an interest in using video teleconferencing as an alternative to travel, particularly for short meetings. Rather than spend two days traveling for one day of meeting, I chose to attend via videoconference — along with representatives from Stanford, Cairo (Egypt), Jordan, Columbia University, Brazil, etc. We exchanged questions and comments via video conference, with each of us having a turn to make statements. The moderator was obviously experienced, and the system worked quite well. (I use XMeeting, an H.323 client, on my Mac G4 Powerbook.) The group concluded that we need a “broker” within the medical community whose role would be to facilitate these kinds of interactions among physicians working in similar areas (neonatal care, etc.). I think this session will end up proving to be one of those seminal events in promoting telehealth development.
I continued to work on the RFI for gigabit network connections to EPSCoR partner schools during the week (and finished the first full draft Sunday). We expect to release the RFI this coming week and to have a vendor conference the following week. This is in preparation for a solicitation expected from NSF EPSCoR this summer for state cyberinfrastructure development proposals.
On Friday, I participated in the Educause identity management webinar presented by a couple of instructional technology staff at Duke. Their experiences and motivations are surprisingly parallel to ours (motivated by the need to support non-student clients in Blackboard, for example). For those of you who are interested, you can watch the presentation at your desktops by checking out Educause/Live for the archive site. We’re going to need to do something similar to what they’re doing, so it’s worth learning from their experiences.
Of course, one major news event of the week was VP Gower’s resignation. Since I arrived well into his tenure here, it’s hard for me to assess how profound his impact upon the institution has been. I will comment that he built a very strong management team, and his focus on service in support of the academic mission was exemplary. And, of course, he was a strong proponent for the aggressive use of information technology to improve the management of the university and our service to clients. While we’ll miss him and the support he afforded us in ETS, we’ve had strong support from Ted Winfield, too, to whom we’ll report as the University works through this transition. I hope you’ll thank Mike and wish him well when you see him on campus over the next few months, and I’m sure you’ll want to be as helpful as possible for Ted and his staff as they assume their new responsibilities.
On Friday, we had family come visit from Connecticut (two children, four grandchildren — Lily, our dog, was delighted!). So while I worked some from home, it was mostly a family day.
And this coming week, I’ll be in DC for the Internet 2 conference. Hope to be able to report interesting research/networking developments after my few days there.
Have a good week, all!

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