Members of the One IT community at UC Berkeley gathered Tuesday, July 18 for the annual IT Summit. Programming throughout the day centered around this year’s theme Lead From Where You Are, with tracks focused on Reimagining IT Strategic Plan strategies and tactics, and offered opportunities for information technology staff to engage with campus IT leadership, network, share their work, and learn about new technology. Now in its fourth year, the summit was hosted by the Haas School of Business and brought together more than 300 campus IT professionals. The One IT community, built since spring 2014, includes anyone who works in an IT-related field or plays a supporting role within an IT unit on campus. A highlight of the day was having the honor of Carol Christ, Berkeley’s new Chancellor, deliver the keynote address.
Liz Marsh, Director of Strategic Initiatives and Chief of Staff in the Office of the CIO, was the emcee for the morning session which started with a warm welcome from event co-sponsors at Haas, Courtney Chandler, Chief Strategy and Operating Officer and Barinder Dhillon-Flanagan, Director and Deputy CIO.
The crowd was then addressed by Larry Conrad, Associate Vice Chancellor for IT and CIO, who stressed the importance for each individual to feel empowered to lead, “This year's theme is Lead From Where You Are, and you are an embodiment of that. I think particularly during these challenging times we've been in it is so critically important. Leadership needs to be more of a web, not a hierarchical, top-down thing. That's why I love this idea of leading from where you are - every single one of us has the opportunity and ability to exert leadership. This is a very important career strategy, and one I have tried to follow in my own career.”
Conrad went on to say, “The impetus for starting the summit three years ago, and more generally the One IT movement, was to bring us together, to help build community, and to offer opportunities to learn from and leverage one another’s skills and expertise.” Then added, “The Summit is a way for us all to better understand who is doing what, what works, and what doesn’t.” Participants were encouraged to connect with colleagues, compare notes, share ideas, and learn something new from each other.
The State of IT address by Conrad continued with a look back over the past year to celebrate the progress that has been made on campus with addressing the structural deficit, filling key leadership roles, and accomplishments of successful team efforts across campus IT units despite the fiscal and administrative challenges the University faced. Some examples included the completion of the Student Information System (SIS) project, renewed funding for Berkeley Research Computing, plus new funding to refresh the campus wireless network and to launch strategically important security initiatives. He praised the successful opening of both the new student help desk and Academic Innovation Studio which has proven to be a key focal point for collaboration and one-stop shopping for faculty this past year. Conrad thanked attendees for these major milestones that bring technological advancements and improved services to the campus community. "All of this does make me feel like campus has turned a corner...we've gone through some difficult times and...there is more work to do, but things are looking up certainly for the campus overall and for campus IT."
Larry closed his remarks by discussing the launch, on July 6, of the proposed Reimagining IT Strategic Plan, built from the bottom up over the past year. “Our goal in launching that initiative at the time was that we felt we had a window of opportunity while the executive team was being rebuilt to articulate a future for Berkeley IT that we could share with our new execs, once they were on board - it looks like our timing is spot-on!”
The strategic plan Design Team, consisting of Liz Marsh, David Greenbaum (Director of Research IT), and Jenn Stringer (Associate CIO for Academic Engagement and Director of Educational Technology Services), took center stage to talk about the plan, how it was developed, and next steps. Greenbaum walked the group through the strategic plan website then Jenn and Liz shared tactics or projects that are being implemented in support of the plan, inviting participants to get involved in the months ahead - “More opportunities to lead from where you are.”
Chancellor Christ rounded out the morning program with an inspirational keynote, kicking off her comments by saying, "I think we have extraordinary IT at Berkeley, and I want to thank you for all the work you do individually and also thank you for the work you do together. I think IT is the epitome of a service on campus that is both centralized and distributed and I'm so inspired by your strategic plan of One IT because we need to figure out how to do that in the best possible way in an environment that is complex in its combination of distribution and centralization. So I want to thank you both for your individual work but also for all the work you do as many teams and also as one team."
Christ mentioned how the theme for the summit resonated with her and how she had been thinking a lot lately about journeys. She shared some insights and experiences in life as physical journeys and journeys through time. This included her initial cross country trip years ago to take on a new role as a Berkeley faculty member to the experiential, internal journey she took to become Berkeley’s 11th chancellor. "In those first months of teaching here, I fell in love with Berkeley. First I loved the students. Every student had a different story of how he or she came to Berkeley. They were smart, they were quirky, and they had a sense of wonder and curiosity. I fell in love with the intellectual excitement of Berkeley. How, no matter what the subject, there is some faculty member who not only knows about it, but is really extending the boundaries of knowledge around it. And I love the fact that Berkeley felt like a place where history is happening. A place that is significant on the face of this earth. Berkeley is a place that matters, and some people say it matters more than any university in the world. Berkeley has made me who I am, it has shaped me intellectually, and it has enabled me to become the leader that I am."
The Chancellor then shared her vision for the campus outlining five goals: 1) building community, 2) enhancing the undergraduate experience, 3) enabling our faculty to do the most critical research for the public good, 4) making major progress on diversity, and 5) developing a new financial model for the campus. Then she continued with her vision for IT remarking, "We now expect the internet to come on as automatically and easily as the electricity in the room. We live in a world of powerful, ubiquitous wireless connectivity. This has enormous implications for how we organize ourselves, how we organize virtually every aspect of our work and our lives. We have to be One IT as your strategic plan recognizes. The important organizational question is how fully we should centralize." The university has engaged the help of a consultant to help think through this and other questions like: Do students, faculty, and staff have access to the technology capabilities they require? How can the university improve governance structures and funding models to operate IT efficiently and effectively? Is the university striking the right balance between shared and distributed services? Have we chosen to decentralize the right things? Are there IT capabilities that should be universally available and what are the best models for funding and managing these common good capabilities? What are the highest priorities for technology investment?
Following the Chancellor’s State of Campus address, participants were invited to ask questions from the morning presentations, a lightning talk ensued to promote the afternoon sessions, and the group moved on to lunch in the Haas Courtyard. Three tracks were offered in the afternoon: 1) Paving a Path for the Future: Teaching and Research, Cloud Strategy, and Workforce Development, 2) Project Management: Fundamentals for Success, 3) Telling Our Story and Improving User Experience. The Exhibit Hall featured staffed poster displays and demos from IT staff organizations and teams across campus and event sponsors were on hand to answer questions. A photo booth was available for staff to capture fun moments with colleagues throughout the day. The day ended with final remarks from Conrad and a raffle of prizes provided by sponsors including an Amazon Echo, iPad, and laptop. A social networking hour closed the day with an opportunity for attendees to toast fellow colleagues as a conclusion to IT Summit 2017.
Summer Scanlon, a member of the CalNet team, summed up her experiences from the day, “One IT is a chance to see all these people I work with and collaborate with all the time but never actually get to see in person. Today I saw so many different people and we talked about so many different projects that we are going to work on together - that is what the IT Summit was for me - making connections.” Summer’s comments were echoed by other participants, helping to confirm that One IT is working at UC Berkeley!