Office of Information Technology May Newsletter 2020

Office of Information Technology May Newsletter 2020


2020 has been an interesting and eventful year. Given all that has happened, I want to share important information on the financial impacts of the novel coronavirus on UVU, and to emphasize UVU's plan to ensure the best outcomes for students, for IT, and for each of us. 

At the end of the 2020 legislative session on March 12, the financial outlook for UVU was optimistic. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck the US and Utah, the economic world turned on its ear. The legislature is meeting regularly to manage the financial toll of the pandemic. 

UVU will be financially impacted by the legislature's decisions in several ways. First, we can expect that revenues will be delayed because tax day has been delayed. Second, since the legislature has a constitutional mandate to keep the Utah budget balanced, we can expect next year's funding to be different than what was anticipated. Third, we don’t know yet if some money from the current fiscal year will be lost. 

UVU has many fiscal strategies in place to survive this downturn with as little trouble as possible. Guidelines have been published on which will provide instructions for finances and human resources regarding these conservative strategies. Directors can also share these guidelines with you.  The primary goal of all these strategies is to ensure that our employees, who depend on UVU wages to feed, shelter, and clothe their families, will not lose their jobs. For now, UVU has asked that spending be limited to essential items until the financial situation for the coming year is made clear. If a purchase can be delayed, it should be delayed. Additionally, decisions on wage or salary increases will be delayed since the funds to do so cannot be guaranteed. For the time being, we can expect to be paid the same amount this year as last year. 

Some federal and state emergency funds may be deployed in an attempt to offset the financial trouble caused by this pandemic. UVU is investigating and applying those funds according to the regulations governing their use. Estimates show that UVU will receive almost $23 million through the CARE Act. At least half of that money must be delivered directly to students. The remainder will be used to pay for expenses that have been incurred as a result of COVID-19. 

USHE has asked us to track all the expenses that relate directly to the effects of the virus on UVU as well as all the revenue that will be lost. Tracking expenses and losses won't necessarily mean our funds will be restored, but it will mean that UVU  and USHE will gain important financial data. Marshall Chamberlain, IT's trusty financial controller, will be gathering and reporting that information on behalf of IT. I am asking all directors to please assist him.

I've been with UVU for over 27 years. In all that time, the economy has experienced several downturns. As a result, I went without raises on a couple of occasions. Despite that, I know from firsthand experience that UVU always watches out for current employees in times of hardship, so please don't be too anxious about all this. We may not have everything we may want, but we will have what we need to get through this together! 

Brett McKeachnie
Interim AVP of OIT 



Have you seen a UVU staff member offering exceptional service or giving an exemplary performance? Remember to nominate them for the Wolverine Sighting Employee Recognition Award! 



A bird silhouetted against the sunset.

Faculty Return  

On May 7, all faculty are expected to return for the start of the summer semester. 

Classes Begin  

May 13 is the first official day of the Summer 2020 semester at UVU. 

Memorial Day Holiday  

On this day, Americans honor those who have died in service to our country. Be sure to read about the history and traditions of Memorial Day



  1. Reed Warner won this year's Divisional Award of Excellence for Finance and Administration. In his nomination letter, Eddie Sorensen wrote the following: "Reed has proven himself to be a very valuable employee for UVU. In a very short time, Reed has become a major facilitator and problem solver for IT Services. He has built bridges between departments throughout the campus. Reed treats every user he works with around campus with respect and gives their problems and issues his full attention. He is successful in helping those he works with feel heard and validated. Many users around campus have commented about how refreshing it is to work with Reed because he brings a positive and fresh new perspective to IT Services." Congratulations, Reed! 
  2. Although it has not yet been officially announced, Megan Densley will receive the Divisional Award of Excellence. The following is an excerpt from the nomination letter: "Megan's professionalism and extremely strong work ethic are an example to all, and the results of her work will have long-lasting effects on all who walk through the doors of this institution. As the Senior Business Process Analyst in the IT Project Management Office, Megan's work has re-envisioned critical IT processes, but more impressive is the work she has done to simplify, improve, and streamline processes that have little or nothing to do with IT. IT leaders and University administrators alike have seen the value that Megan brings to UVU. Megan has an impressive skill set that she brings to bear on behalf of UVU's students, faculty, and staff. We need many more Megans at UVU! Megan is an example of Excellent Care, Excellent Accountability, and Excellent Results, all in service of the vision of our highest calling, Student Success." Congratulations, Megan!


A sunrise over a cloudy mountaintop.

Enterprise Software Services 

I would like to recognize Vadra Rowley for receiving a SPOT award given by Student Affairs.  Here are the comments from Student Affairs: Vadra continues to be an important partner in IT. Our Registrar team relies heavily on Vadra to monitor and support upgrades and system checks. She has taken it upon herself to be our liaison to Ellucian and has worked directly with them to help troubleshoot and fix issues. In addition, as a member of our process analysis team, Vadra has worked on several key projects to help us remove barriers. 

Denise Vandevanter 
Director of Enterprise Software Services


Automation and Integration Services

We have been working closely with HR and Payroll to implement leave and time options in TIMS in relationship to the COVID-19 situation.

Mike Duffin
Director of Automation and Integration Services


Web Development Services

WDS worked with Wendy Athens and Dustin Berlin for several months in architecting and launching the new UVU Online program and website.  This project was a great example of teamwork across multiple divisions at UVU and the diligent effort of all involved.  Specifically, Mallory Snyder did a great job coordinating the different pieces of web development, the collaboration of multiple WDS team members, and many different pieces as we raced to the finish line. 
Nathan Gerber
Director of Web Development Services



Last month in Half-Time, Brett announced a path forward regarding our IT Service Management Solution (ITSM). In this article, we would like to provide a more detailed map of this path. 

As a reminder, IT Leadership has decided to pursue an exploration of Jira Service Desk (JSD) as a short-term "bridge" solution to meet the basic needs of those currently using POB. To start this journey, we have formed a group to determine the feasibility of replacing POB with JSD. The group tasked with this responsibility is led by David Tobler and Jim Condie, and will include Brandon Bolander, Bobby Lott, John Berry, Nathan Gerber, Shawna Murray, and Brett McKeachnie with subject matter experts called upon as needed. This group will work under the direction and oversight of IT Leadership. We plan to hire a consultant to help us set JSD up correctly and follow the best practices. If all goes well, we will work out a migration path from POB and then iterate on our successes and learn from our failures as we transition to using JSD. 

While this new group is exploring the feasibility of this bridge solution, IT Leadership will continue to develop our processes, workflows, escalations, Service Level Agreements (SLAs), and measurable indicators of success. By defining and maturing our processes, we will be better positioned to understand what our ITSM needs are. 

The path beyond JDS as a bridge solution will include investigating other ITSM products. We will compare single-vendor, all-in-one product solutions against multi-vendor best of breed products that talk to each other, which could lead to a Request for Proposal (RFP) and perhaps eventually the selection of a solution other than JSD. 

Since there is no money currently budgeted for this initiative, the initial cost of licensing JSD for the first year and hiring a consultant will come from "budget dust" (money left over at the year’s end from accounts across IT swept together) as well as voluntary contributions from IT departments. The ongoing costs beyond the first year will come from reallocated funds that are currently being spent on POB and other software. 

While we're excited to have a path forward, we may need to temper our expectations of how quickly we can make this transition. The reality is that we need to continue relying on POB for a while. Before we leave it, we need a reliable service management replacement for POB users both inside and outside of IT. During this time, there may be additional work needed on POB to keep it stable and secure. There is even a chance that we might need to renew our license of POB for another year because we aren't ready, or don't have resources to migrate to JSD. All that being said, we're optimistic that JSD will be up and running well before November, when the POB license is up for renewal.

Even though we're looking forward to retiring POB, it won't be without some challenges. Jira Service Desk won't function or look the way POB does. POB users will have to learn a new interface, new terminology, and the new way JSD works. Also, while departments who are currently using Jira or other solutions are free to continue using them for now, eventually they will need to migrate, adapt, or integrate those solutions into the centrally managed "hub" solution.  And finally, adopting best practices means we may all have to change some of our existing practices.   

The following are some wayfinding and explanation of what this path IS and what it IS NOT:

It IS a short-term bridge.  It IS NOT a long-term anchor.

It IS a direction.  It IS NOT a pre-defined outcome.

It IS an exploration of possibilities.  It IS NOT a feature-by-feature replacement.

It IS a work in progress.  It IS NOT a perfect tool for everyone.

It IS an integration platform. It IS NOT an all-in-one solution.

It IS a repository for decision-making data.  It IS NOT a tool to generate busywork.

It IS a framework for improvement.  It IS NOT a rule set for conformity.

It IS a next step for users of POB.  It IS NOT a mandate for everyone.

We want you to join us on this journey and that’s why we’re striving to keep you informed about each step we take. Most of you should have already participated in the listening tour to answer your questions and get your feedback. We have created a POB to JSD Feasibility and Implementation channel in the IT Public Team where we'll post regular updates and continue to seek your input. There will also be weekly updates on our progress given to IT Leadership. 

Even though we're not certain where this journey will ultimately lead, after such a long wait, it's encouraging to finally have a path forward regarding our IT Service Management solution. 

CHARACTER THOUGHT: Boldness vs. Fearfulness

Boldness is having the confidence that what we have to say – or can do – is true, right, and just. In our lives we often have times of doubt, and sometimes in those moments we let our fearfulness rule over us and control us. Instead, we must believe in ourselves. We must have the courage to be strong and question with boldness the things that we know are not true, right, or just. 

Eddie Sorensen 
Senior Director of Infrastructure Services


A woman working from home on her laptop.

Open Job Positions

The following positions in IT need to be filled. If you know of any individuals who might be a good fit, be sure to send them the link and recommend them to the appropriate department. 

Is there an opening in your division or department that needs to be filled? Be sure to get it approved according to the Temporary Human Resources Guidelines. Once the position is open, get the word out by submitting it to Caitlin Tobler for next month’s newsletter. 

New Employees

No new individuals have been recently hired by OIT, transferred to a new department, or given a promotion at this time.