[teknoids] Law IT org charts/reporting

Mark Beekhuizen mark.beekhuizen at law.utah.edu
Mon Oct 24 16:04:04 EDT 2016


I guess how you, or any IT person at a large multi-disciplinary campus law school, feel about reporting to the central IT department is a matter of how you and/or your department view the campus IT landscape.  Do you feel you are a large enterprise working together to meet the needs of it's individual constituents, or do you view yourself as a group of individual smaller businesses that simply leverage the central campus IT resources in a sort of ISP manner?

If it is the latter, then I would say that you would not wish to become a part of the DUEE reporting structure.  If your law school can stand on it's own (financially speaking) regarding all aspects of IT (network, security, AV, storage, email, helpdesk, desktop support, etc., etc.) and still be able to support the academic mission at the highest possible level while insuring quality doctrinal and experiential legal education for your students (IT focused on measuring and improving learning outcomes), then there is no reason for you to fix something that is working so well.

But unfortunately, there are not many law schools in this country that can make the claim of total self-sufficiency.  Academic institutions are one of the last corporate areas of the country where we fail to see the benefits (not just financial) to becoming and acting as an enterprise.  Law school IT has some unique IT/AV requirements, but none of which cannot be explained to capable IT leaders in support of the overall academic success for the entire enterprise.  But if we as law school IT waste our valuable time on such low-touch end-user efforts as network configurations, brand of storage products, network security at an enterprise level (huge time suck), etc., we will fail to have adequate resources (time, money, people) to address the real needs our law school has for our unique services - think new assessment technologies, on-demand video recording systems for active learning and role-playing, support for student digital portfolios, and a myriad of other IT related things that could truly benefit the already overly-financial committed law student.

All that said, at the University of Utah, we have recently come to the realization that over the past few years we have organically morphed into an enterprise, yet still act very much like an ISP model.  This is failing miserably in almost every aspect of IT and put us into more of a reactionary approach to IT vs. a strategic and measured approach.  We have begun the necessary steps to plan and act together as an enterprise, yet also recognize that like any enterprise, we need to understand and work to support the unique requirements of each individual enterprise entity.  There are tough decisions to be made.  Obviously something required for our medical center to keep patient data secure and flowing is going to supersede a less critical need for our law school as an example.  But as with any enterprise, if a certain IT spend can provide a unit of our larger enterprise with a distinct advantage over another enterprise (campus), then by all means the change will get enterprise support.

As the IT director for the University of Utah law school, I address the individual needs and concerns of the professors, students and support staff of this department, but I have a strong unofficial relationship to the CIO, CTO, and the central campus operations of IT.  This is the expectation of our dean who knows we do not operate as an island and require services from our main campus in order to operate.  And when you really put it all out on the table for everyone to see, what happens in law school may be unique, but the IT services consumed by them are not.  They usually are a combination of IT services that are employed in many other places around a large campus.  The uniqueness comes in the law-specific individuals who support them - law librarians, legal researchers, law profs, and the like.  As an example, In a properly managed enterprise using enterprise services, an individual sitting at a campus helpdesk should be able to help a law student gain access to TWEN, as easily as a dedicated law school IT professional sitting in a back office within the law school - correct?

As the working title of your signature suggests, a project manager working in a much more enterprise focused DUEE role, you will be exposed to a much broader campus IT environment and all of it's tools and solutions, while maintaining your unique skill and awareness of the IT needs of the law school.  With this expanded opportunity and resources at your disposal, I can only imagine how you could improve the efforts of your law school.


Mark Beekhuizen
Director of IT
University of Utah
SJ Quinney College of Law

From: Covey, Chad [mailto:covey at law.unm.edu]
Sent: Monday, October 24, 2016 10:45 AM
To: teknoids at lists.teknoids.net<mailto:teknoids at lists.teknoids.net>
Subject: [teknoids] Law IT org charts/reporting


Do any of you or your internal Law IT units report directly to anyone outside of your law school?  I.e., to a main campus CIO or to an administrative staff position, as opposed to a faculty position?  And if you do, has it always been that way, or were you there when the organization chart was changed?
Our campus is proposing that all academic IT units would report to a staff position directly under the CIO - it's called the Director of User Experience and Engagement (DUEE).  For our law school, this would mean the current direct report to our Deans would be eliminated, and we think (though aren't sure) that the Law IT/Deans relationship would be informal, advisory.
They are calling local departmental staff 'embedded' in this new model, as (we also presume) the staff continue to be housed in the Law school.  It hasn't been explicitly stated, but we expect the DUEE will write performance reviews and give directives to all of these local IT staff. That's problematic as most of the department IT staff will not even be in the same building as the DUEE.  And the CIO/DUEE may have priorities at odds with the local departments, which puts the embedded IT staff in a potentially conflicted position.  We're also not sure if IT staff can be moved around campus at the discretion of the DUEE\CIO, so embedding is potentially temporary.  Same with hiring, not sure if the department or the CIO\DUEE make determinations.

We anticipate this creates some complexity, so are curious if any of you have lived in this type of arrangement, how you made it work, or if it was implemented, and then rolled back?

We're very interested in any commentary or context others can provide.  From the responses I get, I'll try to break it down into two categories, 'Report to Law School' or 'Report Externally.' I'll then tabulate and send only the anonymous overall numbers to the list so that the community has a baseline going forward.

If you are more comfortable calling or emailing off list, that's great.

Thank you,

Chad Covey
IT Project Manager III
University of New Mexico School of Law
1117 Stanford NE
Albuquerque, NM 87131
covey at law.unm.edu<mailto:covey at law.unm.edu>
(505) 277 9045

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