Information Resources Council Minutes
April 29, 2008
 
In Attendance:  Susan Kress (Chair), Phylise Banner, Jennifer Bonner, Ruth Copans, Joanne Devine, Beth DuPont, Ann Henderson, Margo Mensing, Victoria Neff ’11, Justin Sipher, Jeremy Wilmot ‘08
 
Susan Kress began the meeting by introducing and welcoming Jennifer Bonner from the Biology Department and Victoria (Torie) Neff ’11 as new members who will be joining the IRC next year.  She noted that this was to be Jeremy Wilmot’s last meeting and then yielded the floor to Ruth Copans, Margo Mensing, and Joanne Devine, who explained that they had nominated Jeremy for the Rosendahl Award for service.  They offered kudos and thanks to Jeremy on behalf of the entire Committee and read their individual nomination statements regarding his extraordinary contributions to the group. (See attached).  Justin Sipher then passed along a gift card to add to the bag of goodies provided by the others.  Jeremy expressed his gratitude with customary humility and grace. 
 
The minutes of April 15, 2008 were approved (and applauded) as submitted by Phylise Banner. 
 
Capital Budget Requests for FY09
 
Justin Sipher distributed a document outlining the major areas included in the IT Capital Project Requests for the upcoming year, which total $2.4M when combining the funds to be transferred to the operating budget and those to come from over enrollment dollars .  These included:
  • Network and Server Upgrades/Maintenance (19%)
  • Telecommunication Projects (6%)
  • Desktop Computing (43%)
  • Academic/Media/Classroom Projects (15%)
  • Other/New Initiatives (17%)
 
Noting that the majority of the funds were to be directed to maintenance projects, he then walked the group through the list of new initiatives for 08-09.  Special note was taken of the Aquabrowser purchase for the Library, which had been previewed at an IRC meeting in December; software to support Advancement personnel for accessing needed biographical information while they are on the road; a technology match for the Alden grant to create two new Dana classrooms; and the first of two annual set-asides to build a source of funds for the Zankel Center.  Justin explained that these projects had been prioritized from a longer list that had come from a number of sources, including IT personnel, departmental capital requests, and requests made as part of the Dean of the Faculty’s budget process. 
 
Responding to a query regarding the fate of replaced desktop equipment, Justin explained that life cycles varied, and that while newer equipment was redeployed, other older machines were used for email kiosks and student worker stations in department offices.  Machines deemed non-functional for College use have been either donated to non-profit organizations or recycled.  He also commented that IT staff had recently met with Erica Fuller, the College’s new Sustainability Coordinator, to discuss other avenues for recycling and avoiding waste.  He also indicated that classroom/media upgrades were expanding into lab areas where use is high.
 
Email Policy Update
 
Justin Sipher reported on behalf of the sub-group that had been charged with working on revising and enhancing the institution’s email policy.  He commented that he felt the group had made substantial progress this spring, having (1) reviewed the current policy’s status, (2) developed a set of guiding principles for change, and (3) looked at other models.  They have identified Cornell’s policy as particularly impressive and have received permission to use it as a framework for a revised Skidmore policy. They are paying specific attention to issues related to health and safety, business continuity, and legal precedents.  They hope to work with Human Resources and College Counsel over the summer to vet draft language and will target mid-fall as a time when they might bring a proposal to IRC and then to IPPC.  They also hope that they might be able to apply the guiding principles to other concerns, including datastor files and desktop computers.
 
When asked if the group had considered a mandatory privacy disclaimer as part of email communications, Justin explained that the group had primarily focused on developing procedures for dealing with specific cases.  He gave several examples of pertinent situations and indicated that they had deferred discussion of a Code of Conduct, an issue raised at the last Faculty meeting.  Susan Kress explained that FEC members had initially referred the Faculty motion to IRC and then subsequently decided to work on a statement themselves.   The Faculty motion was limited to “faculty-list” communications and was therefore quite narrow in its scope.  Future conversations in this area are possible.
 
Review of 07-08 Discussions and Planning for Next Year
 
Susan Kress noted that, as decided in September, the IRC had attempted to intersperse smaller, closed committee-only meetings with larger open sessions for the full community.  Topics covered this year included:
  • Email 101 and policy questions
  • A discussion of process for policy development and IRC role in communicating issues to the larger campus community
  • Internet 2
  • Digital Natives and Next Generation Faculty
  • Digital Asset Management follow-up
  • Information Literacy
  • Budget Concerns
  • On-Line Courses
 
The group brainstormed ideas for future discussions and came up with several possibilities, including:
  • Reflecting upon the IRC Charter and identifying needed changes – this could occur at the beginning of the fall term as well as at the end of the year; are we achieving the right balance between the showcasing new techniques and the development  of policy?
  • Broadening the discussion regarding information literacy to include other literacies, especially as the we begin to think about the multi-media aspects of teaching and learning
  • Examining how technology might be related to a Teaching and Learning Center
  • Planning strategically for future technology needs – this may be particularly pertinent once we have results from the ECAR Survey
  • Following up on digital asset management issues – possible topics may include institutional repositories and open access
  • Pursuing issues related to policies around the acceptance of on-line course work – joint work with CEPP and CAS?
  • Following up on the email policy recommendations from the sub-group
  • Investigating issues around classroom design and how new pedagogies influence what we build
  • Managing NITLE participation
 
Susan Kress indicated that she will also canvass the community for suggestions – perhaps now and at the beginning of next fall.  The group extended thanks to Joanne Devine and Margo Mensing who are leaving IRC after their years of faithful service, as well as to Phylise Banner who participated this year as the Special Programs representative. 
 
Susan Kress expressed her thanks to all members of the committee for their work over the course of the year.
 
Respectfully submitted,
 
Ann L Henderson