Thank you UW-IT!

I was truly touched by the outpouring of heartfelt support you showed at my farewell party and really over the past few weeks.  So many of you have dropped by my office, stopped me in the hall, or written an email; I am still trying to respond to all of the emails before I leave on Saturday for Michigan.

As I read some of the cards on the way home on Tuesday, and then again the next day as I found yet more tucked in my bag, I was struck by the impact all of you have had on me over the past eight years. Your dedication to excellence—to the UW and its mission to serve the greater good, educate the brightest minds in the state, tackle the toughest problems and provide outstanding health care for all in the state—is truly inspirational.  You have made it easy to come to work every day because of the way you work together, accomplishing more than we thought possible. We work as a team with our big goals always at the top of our minds.  I will miss you all terribly as I go off to my next challenge, and thank you for the last eight plus years.

kelli-coldAs a bit of comic relief, which I find useful in these situations, I have included a picture of some of my new, ready-for-Michigan attire.  Go big or go home.


Thank You and Farewell

It is with mixed emotions that I announce that I have accepted another position and am leaving the UW; my last day in the office will be November 10. It is hard for me to say farewell to such an amazing team of dedicated professionals; it makes this a tough blog entry to write. Please join me on November 8 from 2:00-4:00 p.m. in the UW Tower Cafeteria to say good-bye and to find out about my next challenge.

President Cauce and Provost Baldasty have a solid transition plan in place and have asked Aaron Powell, Associate Vice President for Information Management, to step in as UW-IT’s Interim Vice President and CIO. His leadership will provide continuity and stability for the organization during this time. Aaron will begin to transition into this new role as of October 13 as I will be out of the office until the end of October on vacation and representing the UW on various commitments.  He will officially assume the responsibilities of the CIO as of October 20, and he and I will work together to ensure a smooth transition. Aaron will be announcing plans for Information Management and the Integrated Service Center shortly. Also as of October 13, Dave Anderson, Executive Director, Health Sciences Administration, will assume the role of Lead Executive Sponsor for the HR/Payroll Modernization program.

It has been an honor and privilege to work with such an outstanding group of IT professionals for the past eight years. We have grown into one of the most well-respected and collaborative teams across the University, delivering value and innovation in everything we do. We have accomplished so much because we work together as a team and we respect the contributions of both the University community and of each other in finding the best solution, always keeping the interests of our students, faculty and staff at heart.

UW-IT is seen as a group of IT professionals that listens to campus, thinks of both existing and outside-the-box solutions, and is always concerned about value for the UW. While I will be leaving the UW for my next challenge, it is hard to leave behind a team that I respect and admire so much. It is really because of you and our contributions to the greater good of the UW, that I have stayed in this position so long.

You are a strong and resilient team that I know will continue to provide exceptional IT to the University.  Aaron Powell is an outstanding leader whose experience in the CIO position for Evergreen State College, his deep knowledge of the HR/Payroll Modernization program, and his strategic and collaborative approach will ensure a smooth transition. UW-IT has a strong Senior Leadership team that will work with Aaron to provide the continuity and strategic direction needed to move UW-IT forward through the transition.

I know all of you will continue to build upon the vision that we have developed over the past eight years of outstanding customer service, innovative solutions and cost effective technologies that are truly world-class.

Thank you for being such an extraordinary team and I wish you all the very best.

Ready, Set, GO!

We are about to embark on another academic year at the UW. Students are beginning to come back on campus and the excitement is building on what the new year will bring. Phil Reid’s presentation at the Town Hall yesterday on “What the student teams’ have been up to” was a perfect way to inspire us all to deliver “IT That Matters.”  For those who missed it, Phil’s presentation will be posted online next week.  Unfortunately, we were not able to record Professor Per Reinhall’s presentation on the high-tech football helmets his group designed in collaboration with researchers across the UW. This is due to the intellectual property he freely shared with our group.

I had originally asked Professor Reinhall to share his work because his group was slated to move into our Bowman facility. In fact, this was the catalyzing reason for UW-IT’s move out of Bowman (the building was perfectly situated between Children’s Hospital and the UW, and had the light manufacturing space that this startup needed). As we all saw yesterday, VICIS’s innovative helmets, simply took off too fast and outgrew the Bowman space by the time they were ready to move in.  The helmet will be available for select NFL and NCAA teams in the 2016 season, with other teams and markets to soon follow. As a bonus, I’m including a link to Professor’s Reinhall’s segment on the PBS NewsHour that ran just this past Wednesday, highlighting his work with marine noise reduction technologies.

As we start the new year, I want to say thank you to all who have persevered through the space moves over the past year. I recognize that the Bowman space move has not been easy on teams or individuals, but nearly a year later, while it is still not optimal, it has proven to be good for collaboration, workflow and teamwork within UW-IT. The move has caused us to rethink how we work together and to think more strategically about space and the long-term needs for all our staff. Short-term arrangements will sometimes be off that path, but the long-term goals will result in a­ better environment for all. These recent moves have also resulted in us being seen as good partners with key leaders, like the Provost and Capital Planning & Development.

Now we are about to go through more space changes as we build out the Integrated Service Center on O-2 of the UW Tower and then begin upgrading spaces across O-3 and C-3.  As we move through these changes, let’s keep the dialogue open—what is working and not working for you, and how we can make it better. Feel free to talk to me, your manager or use my WebQ.  In the end, our goal is to have spaces that contribute to the great work of our teams, and that can only happen with your input and feedback.

Have a good weekend. Go Huskies, Go Hawks, Go Sounders, Go M’s, and most importantly, go relax a bit before the start of another very busy year.

Help UW-IT put strategy into action – Leap Forward on Wednesday, September 14

UW-IT is seen as a leader across campus in so many areas – enhancing the student experience, continuously improving the customer experience for our faculty and staff, expanding our support of research computing, and providing better access to data and tools for decision-making.  With our networking and telecommunications teams, we are an organization that can deliver on-time and on-budget capabilities and services, not only for our University, but across the state and region.  It is combination of sound strategy and execution that allows us to be in that sweet spot with our campus community. We understand that knowing the right thing to do is not enough, it is doing all the right things, with clear communication, planning, and alignment across teams. Do we get this right every time? Not always, but when we don’t, we listen to feedback and take steps to make it better.

On September 14, Leap Forward Day, you are invited to a one-day, all-inclusive Strategy into Action event, to help UW-IT refine both the “what” of our strategy and the “how” of our plan. Come join your colleagues from across UW-IT at this event facilitated by the Enterprise Architecture team, as we work to plan our services in support of UW-IT’s Seven Strategic Goals and the UW’s Sustainable Academic Business Plan.  It should be a fun day – putting strategy into action in our services and daily work.

Space is limited for this session; to learn more about the day and to sign up to attend, see the wiki page here:

  • Where: Haggett Hall, Cascade Room
  • When: 9AM to 4PM, lunch provided

By the end of the day, participants will have developed a one-page strategy document for each selected Business Service, and leave with a better understanding of the impacts the strategy will have on skills, organizational structure and teams, as well as how each of us contributes to executing the strategy.

This is a pilot program, so come prepared to participate with good humor and a willingness to make things better.

Here are some background materials for September 14 to prepare for the work of the day:

UW’s Sustainable Academic Business Plan

UW-IT’s Seven Strategic Goals

Don’t worry if you can’t come to this event, there will be other opportunities to get involved.

Extra Credit: As many of you know, one of my favorite publications to read is The Economist, here is an article on why your strategy is only as good as your execution.



UW-IT changes: Are we there yet?

Some of you have asked if we are through with the reorganizations in UW-IT. It’s a good question. Let me start by sharing what one of my favorite CIO’s in higher education, Tracy Futhey of Duke University, once said to me, “We haven’t changed much for the campus, and that has been easy on everyone – but it probably hasn’t been good for anyone.”  Her comment relates to the fact that one of our roles in information technology (IT) is to lead the campus in adoption of technologies, with incremental change being easier than a “big bang” approach. In order to do this, the IT organization needs to continually evolve over time.

UW-IT has certainly evolved over the past eight years – we enhanced almost every aspect of our services and delivered new capabilities across teaching and learning, research and administration, and improved our customer service, reputation and trust. If you look at our track record, it is really remarkable what we have accomplished. But not everything changed – we intentionally kept some organizational structures in place and some workgroups stable in order to focus on delivering service and capabilities faster.

Now we need to shift that approach. What is happening in the world of technology outside the campus – the need for speed, the need to adopt more off-the-shelf and cloud services, along with higher expectations from our large, diverse and mobile/social/technology-oriented population of users – is going to require that we be much more fluid and focused in our efforts over time. “But wait” you say, ”How can we be both fluid and focused at the same time?” It is a new way of working (and thinking) – some of us may be asked to work deep and be focused on a specific area, while others may be asked to add value to a project or program by working more broadly, and spanning boundaries so that capabilities and experiences are similar for our customers.

So what does this mean for UW-IT? It means that change and evolution is going to be a continual process, focusing on the big picture for groups that directly support our seven strategic goals and those that span across our boundaries and capabilities. No group is more important than the other – all are inherently necessary to deliver on the high expectations across campus and to enable the central role of technology in producing transformational change.

Healthy IT organizations will continue to evolve over time. This is what UW-IT is doing right now. Our recent changes are not a reaction to a crisis or financial need. They are part of the necessary, healthy, and ongoing evolution to ensure our organization continues to deliver technologies that not only support, but advance the missions of the University.

So are we there yet? The short answer is no, but we are on the right path.  Technology is a pivot point for institutional change and improvement across the UW, and UW-IT is the fulcrum of so many efforts across campus. Our evolution will make us better able to continue this central role into the future.

UW-IT changes – it’s what we do, and we do it well!

UW graduation is always one of the most inspiring times of the year.  This year’s commencement speaker was our own Sally Jewell, a double Husky, who has navigated a career from the oil fields of Oklahoma, to banking, to retail executive, to environmental activist, and now Secretary of the Interior.  Just as inspiring were the stories of the transformation and change from students. They have taken the opportunities the UW has given them and embraced the greater good across their academic careers. I have no doubt they will change the world someday.   In IT we are also in a state of continuous evolution for the greater good, and, not surprising, we need to continue to change to meet rising campus expectations. This blog entry will focus on change – why it is necessary, and what areas we will be focusing on for change over the next few months.

Changea mark of great IT

Together we have built one of the best IT organizations in higher education – over 850 staff strong and rooted in collaboration and innovation – that carry out operational and transformational work across the UW. We could not be the world-class IT organization we are today if we had not been willing to face change. While change is not always easy, we recognize that change is the mark of great IT. Our organization is continuously changing as technologies and campus needs evolve. In fact, UW-IT is seen as a model organization for navigating and leading change across the campus. We’re IT – change is what we do.

Right now, one of the greatest drivers for these changes are the rising expectations from campus on all fronts – to improve the student experience, provide better support for research, and place a greater emphasis on helping with administrative efficiencies across the UW. IT is at the heart of the UW’s ability to keep pace as a global research university.

Already, over the past year, we navigated significant changes – in space and office moves, in service delivery and management, in new programs and responsibilities, and in leadership transitions within HR/Payroll. We recognize that change is a constant process for all of us in IT.  Naturally, changes are easier when they are happening to someone else; they are harder when they affect our work responsibilities, space or relationships.  Through it all, I appreciate how resilient you have been, and how you’ve asked questions and voiced your opinions as we moved forward. This is part of the healthy process of change – keep it up. It will help us know when we skip an important step in communication or when we are not clear on why we are doing something.

What’s changing

With some planned transitions in staff, we are taking the opportunity over the next few months to make organizational changes. These changes will enable greater alignment between units and divisions, and better support the UW’s fundamental missions.  We are approaching these thoughtfully, with an eye towards supporting both UW-IT’s and the University’s priorities.

The changes will position us to better support faculty and students, and will concentrate in these areas:

  • Increase focus on research support
  • Greater emphasis on teaching and learning initiatives
  • Better alignment between infrastructure and services that will provide more cohesive support to campus, and will improve information security related to data and privacy issues
  • Tighter alignment of efforts that support modernizing business systems

While this provides some broad context, we will communicate more detail as these changes progress. On behalf of the  Senior Leadership Team, we are committed to navigating all of these changes thoughtfully, ensuring they align with UW-IT’s seven Strategic Goals, and communicating clearly the why, along with the what and when. All of us on the Senior Leadership Team welcome your input and feedback along this change journey and trust that you will continue to contribute positively to the changes.

I appreciate your support, understanding, and continued commitment to delivering great IT to the University – your work is making a difference in the lives of our students, our faculty and our staff.

UW-IT: Supporting transformational change at the UW, and across the greater higher education IT community

At UW-IT, we are leaders of transformational change. This point was underscored for me last week when we received a vote of confidence from the Board of Regents to extend the timeline and funding of the HR/Payroll Modernization program to summer 2017 – the largest business transformation in the University’s history.  I was also reminded of how much UW-IT is seen as a leader in so many areas in higher education (networking, service management, data analytics, computing infrastructure and identity management, to name a few) when I attended the 20th Anniversary Celebration for Internet2 this week. I am proud of our accomplishments, and that we as leaders share our knowledge with the higher education community.

Now as I write this blog, the latest admission update appears in my inbox, highlighting yet another of our many important and successful collaborations – streamlining and strengthening the UW admissions process. I’m including the entire Admissions update (Autumn 2016 Freshman Class Update as of May 13, 2016-Preliminary) below for those who want to see it. Here is an excerpt of the call-out to UW-IT’s support from Phil Ballinger, Associate Vice Provost for Enrollment & Undergraduate Admissions:

“With an increase of more than 6,000 applications and the same staff size, we would not have been able to holistically review all of those applications on time without the new system. It was a critical piece of infrastructure that arrived just in time and was incredibly well-designed and implemented by an impressive team of UW-IT and Admissions staff.”

At UW-IT, we make things better. We make the difficult easier and the impossible possible. Almost every transformation effort across the University involves a major IT component.

It is in this spirit of recognizing IT’s central role in transformation at the UW that President Cauce asked for UW-IT to join in her efforts to build “One Administration” under a new Executive Vice President for Finance & Administration (EVP). A national recruitment for the new EVP is underway and will extend into the summer. The EVP will lead a new organization, bringing together all of the University’s major administrative units – Capital Projects, Finance & Facilities, Human Resources, Planning & Management and UW-IT – working together in support of the greater good of the University.  All of us in the administration will benefit from working more collaboratively, bringing our best to the new organization.

UW-IT is all about transformational change. As the University takes on this next important transformation of its administrative services, we will continue to be leaders, collaborating with our business and academic partners, and our new EVP, to provide the best IT services to support our world-class University.

Autumn 2016 Freshman Class Update as of May 13, 2016-Preliminary

The autumn 2016 freshman class is shaping up well. We began with a record number of applications:

  • WA Residents 11,732 (+4% over 2015)
  • S. Non-residents 21,001 (+26% over 2015)
  • International 10,749 (+20% over 2015)
  • TOTAL 43,482 (+18% over 2015)

Our freshman class target for autumn 2016 was 6,500 students including at least 4,300 Washington residents and about 2,200 non-residents (International & U.S.).

Here are freshman class confirmation projections as of May 13, 2016:

  • WA Residents 4,350-4,400 (~66% of class) – compared to 4,283 in 2015, and a peak of 4,368 in 2006
  • S. Non-residents ~1,250 (~19% of class) – compared to 1,393 in 2015, a peak year
  • International ~950 (~15% of class) – compared to 1,116 in 2015, a peak year
  • TOTAL 6,500-6,600 – compared to 6,792 in 2015

Autumn 2016 freshman admit rates as of May 13, 2016:

  • WA Residents 62% (-2% from 2015)
  • S. Non-residents 43% (-10% from 2015)
  • International 30% (-9% from 2015)
  • TOTAL 46%* (-7% from 2015)
    *If this holds over the summer, it will be the first time the overall admit rate falls below 50%.  [Please note the sharply higher admit rate for resident applicants.]

The autumn 2016 freshman class is more diverse than previous years in number and percent of class. The class currently includes 946 confirmed underrepresented students (+10% over 2015), representing 14% (compared to 13% in 2015) of the total freshman class.

The academic profile of the 2016 freshman class is flat, with the following averages as of today: GPA 3.79, ACT 28, SAT CR+M 1252. With a strong applicant pool and lower admit rates, one would normally expect the academic profile to rise. The academic profile of our U.S. and International non-residents did rise. However, we decreased that portion of the class compared to last year. Also of note, this year there was a modest increase in the proportion of Washington residents who rose in the holistic application review process largely because of the strength of their personal qualities and achievements.

The combination of efficiencies in process, unbelievably hard work on the part of application review staff, and the implementation of the first iteration of a new online review system all allowed us to review freshman class applications and send decisions on time. Until this year, all undergraduate applications were reviewed via paper. This year, over 32,000 domestic freshman class applications, representing 75% of all freshman class applications—were reviewed via the new system. Efficiencies and hard work are not new to Admissions, but with an increase of more than 6,000 applications and the same staff size, we would not have been able to holistically review all of those applications on time without the new system. It was a critical piece of infrastructure that arrived just in time and was incredibly well-designed and implemented by an impressive team of UW-IT and Admissions staff.

Admissions, along with OMAD, UMAC, and other campus partners, also did an outstanding job this year in recruiting, admitting, and enrolling a strong and diverse pool of students. Good examples of this team approach were the on-campus Admitted Student Preview events. These yield events were possible only with support from UMAC, Student Life, Undergraduate Academic Affairs, Enrollment Management, and various academic departments. It took the entire university community to bring in the class, and we are grateful for another year of campus support.

Happy 2016, Welcome Back, Thank You and Get Ready!

The start of winter quarter is always the busiest time of year for UW-IT, and it is safe to predict that this trend will continue to grow every year. Each year our faculty and students reach further across the globe to make more of an impact for the greater good, and all the time connecting back to the UW, to collaborate, teach, and to share their experiences. The University is more connected, mobile, and digital than ever before. With of all of this comes increased expectations for IT.

Historically, the first week of winter quarter has always put a strain on our enterprise systems, as students struggle to adjust classes, schedules are shifted, bills are generated, and payroll completes its end of year processing. Over the years we have worked hard to balance loads and build capacity to handle this spike.  Now the return from the holidays means the added excitement of what our faculty, staff and students brought back with them – undoubtedly a few drones, too many hover boards (should we all start carrying portable fire extinguishers?) and more mobile devices to connect to our Wi-Fi network. We will have to be adaptable to whatever comes our way today, as we are every year during the first week of winter quarter.

Last year brought many changes, with unexpected shifts in our roles and responsibilities. I want to thank you for your patience as we worked through all the changes, both planned and unplanned.  Many of you had to move offices and work spaces to accommodate the greater good of the UW; you did it with grace, efficiency and good humor. Thank you to all of you – literally hundreds of you – who have stepped up in ways both big and small to do something outside your current responsibilities, and for extended periods of time for some of you. This go-to attitude is what makes working with all of you so special. On behalf of the UW, we are truly grateful.

Because of all your extraordinary efforts this past year, we have been able to accomplish a great deal for the campus, despite the moves, shifting leadership, and additional responsibilities.  At the risk of leaving things off, here are just a few of the many accomplishments:  Infrastructure Renewal Project, Enterprise Integration Portal, MyUW Redesign, Concert, document management for Purchasing, Student Fiscal Services and Facilities, significant progress on the telecommunications refresh, online student admissions project, DO-IT website, UW-IT external website, 100G connectivity to major research institutions across the globe, and a complete reboot of the HR/Payroll project. WOW!!!  On top of all of this, we kept everything running well, with excellent customer service, and continued investments and growth in our service culture.

What can we expect over the coming year? Hopefully fewer unexpected changes, and more upgrades to our work spaces. We will continue our partnerships with Student Affairs and the faculty to build a cutting-edge student experience and strengthen our support for researchers, both on-premise and in the cloud. The HR/Payroll Modernization program will continue to be the largest priority in our administrative portfolio and a major focus for our organization. The pace of change will continue in ways we can predict, and some we can’t – perhaps we might even see our first self-driving car on campus (sign me up for that one please). I look forward to working with you in meeting the challenges ahead – welcome back and Happy New Year.

No one ever wound up on top of the mountain by accident; big goals help us get to where we want to go

This is a blatantly obvious statement but somehow we are all uncomfortable when we take risks and set big goals—whether they are work related or personal.  I recognized this with my own family last week as my UW Freshman son proudly presented his four-year academic plan completed in MyPlan. He is proposing to double major in Astrophysics and Computer Science & Engineering, with every course and credit mapped out for the next 11 quarters. It seemed like such a big hairy goal when so much can change, but I quickly realized that he will never be able to do it if he doesn’t plan and believe he can accomplish it.  As parents we need to support him, encourage him, and help him build confidence and momentum. There will be plenty of time later to suggest that taking Physics, Linear Algebra, and Astronomy 300 all in one quarter might be a bit too much. Now is the time for him to shoot for the stars.

Today we are wrapping up the first cycle of end-to-end testing for the HR/Payroll Modernization program—a goal very few of us on the program believed was possible to reach four weeks ago. We are now at 95 percent complete, with almost a 90 percent pass rate, and no critical defects. We set what seemed an impossible goal and we attained it, thanks to the dedication and hard work of hundreds of people across the program. We didn’t just stumble into this goal. We set it, we planned, we adjusted from our mistakes, and we worked hard to get there.

This doesn’t mean it’s going to get easier from here. In fact, this program will become more difficult as we involve more people across the UW. But we’ll set goals, make a commitment to reach them, and know we will do better because of it. Over time, we’ll get more comfortable with setting those goals, understanding the obstacles to obtaining them, and learning as a team to overcome them.

All of us in UW-IT have our own mountains to climb, both personally and professionally. So set your goals, commit to them, and know that you will do better because of it. Have a great week!

Husky Nation

It seemed the right time to write this blog, as I dropped off my youngest son at Terry Hall on the UW Seattle campus last week to begin his new life as a Husky. As we joined the stream of students and parents coming to campus, I was struck by the reach and impact of the UW on so many people’s lives—including my own.

I was reminded of this again earlier last month as I traveled to a conference in Corvallis and shared a plane ride with a retired school librarian from northern California. She was so excited to discover that I worked at the UW. She told me how, as a mother with three young kids and a spouse in the military, she never thought she’d earn a college degree. Then her family was stationed in Seattle and she had the opportunity to attend the UW Library Sciences School (now the iSchool). Through her own tireless efforts, and with the help and support of UW professors, advisers and fellow students, she earned her bachelor’s degree, and then a Master’s degree, and worked as a school librarian for 25 years. Her story underscores the dedication of the people at this institution to supporting student success and how the UW experience can change students’ lives.

Every year I attend Freshman Convocation and graduation; both serve as nice bookends to the year, and reminders of why we are here. This year I attended convocation both in my official capacity and as a regular parent. At the student picnic, I saw Husky parents invite kids who were sitting alone to join their families, making these incoming students feel more welcome and apart of the Husky Nation.

Now, as we welcome the largest freshman class in the UW’s history—new members of the Husky Nation—I am reminded that all of us can do our part to help students feel a little bit more welcomed. We can make sure that our services provide the best experience possible for students and remain grounded in why we are here—to support this institution in educating the next generation of leaders and in offering an experience that changes people’s lives.