Message From the CIO
By Steve Fabiani
I’m happy to share this edition of Innovations outlining the work that was done over the summer months and early in the semester to improve our services, sharpen our systems, upgrade classrooms, and speed up our network. There’s much to share about improvements to our high performance computing services, exciting collaborative work on drone technology, and what we hope will be helpful tips on keeping access to your information secure.
We’re also very happy to announce that a new system for Institutional Advancement, Raiser’s Edge NXT, has been rolled out. This new system, which replaces Banner’s older advancement functions, is the product of a massive amount of work by a cross functional team of Institutional Advancement and ITS staff members over nearly two years. Raiser’s Edge NXT will put the very latest relationship management and reporting/analytics technology in the hands of those who fundraise on Colgate’s behalf at this critical time in our university’s history. Congratulations to Lindsey Hoham of IA and Bridget Gaudreau from ITS, who co-led the project to a successful conclusion in August.
This edition also includes an article by Jen Servedio about the women of ITS. I won’t repeat Jen’s good work here, but do want to share a CIO’s perspective about why this article is so very important to me — and should be to you too.
At risk of stating the obvious, information technology is, at its core and from its earliest days, about solving problems and producing solutions. The earliest computers were designed to simply process mathematical equations far faster than humans could. Before anyone was thinking of the power of organizing large quantities of information to publish the latest research, or collaborating with far-flung colleagues working on the same questions, or discovering music from half a world away, we were just solving equations. Today, information technology is challenged with a new math problem to solve, and it’s genuinely a difficult one. The nonprofit organization Girls Who Code, which is dedicated to introducing young women to computer science, reports that in 1995, 37 percent of computer scientists were women. Today, that number is closer to 25 percent. Current trajectory would indicate that in 10 years, the number will be closer to 22 percent. The research firm Gartner reports that in leadership roles, the number is closer to 14 percent.
As a CIO, the community I serve counts on my team and me to tackle hard problems. We’re charged with architecting and implementing technology solutions for just about any need. Developing and maintaining the systems that support the administrative work of the university, connecting our campus to the fastest research networks, helping faculty and students produce academic media — all these fall within our charge. Sometimes our work is easy. Sometimes we’re inventing the wheel. Regardless, we must be a team of people who are capable of approaching any technical problem from many and varied perspectives. There’s solid evidence based research that ethnic, gender, and racial diversity are required of teams that are developing any complex modern system. After all, technology solutions are shaped by the thinking, perspectives, and biases of the people who build and use them.
There’s a certain serendipity in that last month, as Jen was writing her Innovations article on the women of ITS, I had the pleasure of attending a keynote presentation by Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code (https://girlswhocode.com). Her story is inspiring and her work is compelling. I encourage you to both check out the important work they do, and to join me in celebrating my colleagues in ITS. Enjoy Innovations. Steve