June 14, 2011 — The two organizations that provide technology infrastructure and support on Grounds at the University of Virginia – ITC and ISDS – are merging, said James Hilton, vice president and chief information officer.
"We're seizing the opportunity to be more efficient and to better align with the University's ambitions," he said.
The merger of Information Technology and Communication with Integrated System Development and Support will be called Information Technology Services, or ITS.
Hilton said that in meetings and retreats over the last year, he and his staff focused on thinking about their place in the institution and how they could better serve all of their constituents, including faculty, staff and students.
They kept returning to one word: predictability.
"It may not sound exciting, but in fact it is," Hilton said. "Predictability is about doing what we say we are going to do and getting it done by the deadline we set. Being a predictable organization makes it possible for others to make plans based on our promises. It also helps us prioritize our resources. And it reduces stress. Predictable organizations are not stressed organizations. At its heart, predictability is about organizational integrity."
As his staff began to rally around the call for predictability, Hilton and his leadership team began asking whether the current organizational structure was optimized for predictability. What they quickly concluded was that it is not.
The organizational structure that has been in place was confusing, Hilton said. "It appeared stove-piped and inflexible; and did little to guide resource allocation," he said.
Although ITC and ISDS were originally two organizations, as time evolved, Hilton said, it became apparent that there were more similarities than differences in the work each performed. As one organization, ITS will gain efficiencies and the opportunity to better share ideas and resources.
"ITC and ISDS do great things," Hilton said, "and we could have kept on the way we were, but we knew we couldn't get to the next level without making changes."
Hilton likens this change to a merger between two airlines, each with different cultures, different processes, and even different paint schemes. Mergers like these take time and there will likely be some bumps, he said, but if done correctly, you end up with a single organization that preserves the best of each separate organization and that runs much more efficiently and predictably.
Having a central information technology environment that is efficient and predictable is critical to the larger goals of:
• Establishing the University as a place of choice for "computationally intense" scholars;
• Establishing ITS as an "elite exemplar" of production excellence for University-wide services; and
• Creating an environment where information technology is seen as a strategic asset throughout the University.
To achieve those goals, Hilton has appointed Virginia Evans, the current assistant vice president for ISDS, as associate vice president of ITS to lead the technology services arm of the new organization and has made six other organizational changes that reflect six strategic areas of priority. New appointments include:
• Jim Jokl, associate vice president for enterprise architecture, will oversee the design and future evolution of the University's information technology environment.
• Terry Lockard, assistant vice president for strategic communications, will focus on engagement with the University community.
• Susie McCormick, assistant vice president for budget and administration, will oversee the combined budgets.
• Shirley Payne, assistant vice president for security, policy and records management, will continue to oversee this strategic priority.
• Don Reynard, assistant vice president for portfolio and project management, will be responsible for resource allocation, both people and dollars.
• Tim Sigmon, assistant vice president for next-generation scholarly technology, will lead the way in future development, acquisition of new tools and the University Library partnership on digital preservation.
Hilton said he is pleased with the direction his organization is taking and believes that it will bring clarity to the role of information technology in today's university.
"Having a single central IT organization will maximize opportunities for flexibility and new efficiencies," he added. "Establishing six areas of strategic focus will allow the University to make wise decisions in the face of a rapidly changing world."