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Commencing in 2006, the Faculty of Arts adopted a five-year rollover program for faculty members' computers. Every five years each professor's old computer can be returned to the Arts Computing Office and replaced with a new one. The provided systems are mid-range standardized models: currently there is a choice between a Dell Windows system and an Apple Macintosh system. From 2006 through 2009 the program was limited to desktop computers. Since 2010 the program includes both desktop and laptop models. Starting in 2014 the program includes a limited number of high end models through supplementary funding from the faculty member.
Models using either the Windows or Macintosh operating systems can be selected through this program. All the offered models are powerful enough that, out of the box, they should be entirely adequate for all the day-to-day computing activities normally carried out by practically all Arts faculty members. In other words, in a very approximate sense it is assumed that these computers will be used for activities that include the usual 40% research, 40% teaching, and 20% service components.
These computers are not provided solely or primarily for research purposes. Faculty members who need additional computing functionality are encouraged to obtain it either by using grant money or faculty professional allowance to purchase more powerful computers, or by purchasing peripherals to use with these computers (e.g. individuals needing greater storage space will be encouraged to obtain an external hard disk). By encouraging the use of peripherals for individual faculty members' unique needs the Arts Computing Office (ACO) can provide standardized computer configurations and the faculty member will be left with a peripheral that they can continue to use when the computer itself is replaced after five years. Similarly, faculty members are responsible themselves for purchasing research-specific software. Microsoft Office and common application software licensed for general use (default software) come pre-installed by ACO staff.
There are a number of conditions concerning these computers. For example, desktop models must be connected to the campus network in the faculty member's office: they cannot be moved elsewhere. The old computers being replaced must be returned to the Arts Computing Office (where they are repurposed within Arts for their remaining useful life) or taken to the faculty member's home for use there (after completing the necessary paperwork). Windows desktop machines must be managed systems in the Nexus domain. Apple systems are also managed, including automated software updates provided by ACO. Professors selecting laptop computers will need to accept additional obligations with respect to data backup and security.
How the replacement program operates
Using the equipment inventory records maintained by the ACO which list all the University of Waterloo owned computing equipment purchased by Arts faculty members (i.e. computers previously obtained through this program, purchased using their Faculty Professional Allowance or their start-up grant, or a research grant), each year we will identify approximately 25% of eligible Arts faculty members.
ACO will contact those faculty members, informing them of their eligibility for the program that year and of their options and obligations if they decide to participate. If they decline, they will again be eligible as soon as possible, normally the following year. Faculty members who decide to participate will be asked to complete a form on which they will choose their new system and indicate their agreement with the program's conditions. They will also need to provide some information about software that they already own that will have to be installed on the new computer. Finally, they will need to indicate whether they wish to let their old computer be repurposed within Arts or whether they wish to use it at home (which will necessitate them completing the standard University of Waterloo paperwork*, and that they be aware that they will still eventually need to return the computer to campus to be surplused). Because one important goal of this program is to remove trailing-edge technology from the campus network, ACO strictly controls the repurposing of these old computers to other uses in the Faculty.
Once ACO has received and tabulated the forms it will order the new computers. Once they are received and processed, at a mutually agreed-upon date ACO will install the new computer in the professor's office, install any specialized software already owned by the faculty member, transfer files from the old machine, and remove the old machine (if the professor has already completed and submitted to ACO the necessary "Off Campus Fixed Asset Location Form", they will be provided an equivalent system to their old office computer to take home). We hope to complete all the replacements by the end of the summer each year. At the beginning of each subsequent year ACO will review and if necessary update the standard hardware configuration of the machines that we will supply that year, to keep up with changing technology.
*From Policy 74: "When furniture or equipment is removed from campus to an individual's home or other location, an "Off Campus Asset Location Form" (Form # 5051-1) must be completed and filed with the Department Head, or designate." In this case the form must be completed and filed with ACO.