Arts computer replacement program [2010 memo]


From:   Robert W. Park, Associate Dean of Arts, Computing
Subject: Arts Computer Replacement Program
Date:    April 7, 2010


Commencing in 2006, the Faculty of Arts adopted a four-year rollover program for faculty members' computers. Every four years each professor's old computer can be surplused and replaced with a new one. The provided systems are mid-range standardized models--presently there is a choice between a Lenovo Windows system and an Apple Macintosh system. From 2006 through 2009 the program was limited to desktop computers. Starting in 2010 the program now includes both desktop and laptop models. 


Models using either the Windows or Macintosh operating systems can be selected through this program. All of 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. Thus, they are not being provided solely or primarily for research purposes. Faculty members who do need additional computing functionality will be 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) will be able to 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 four years. Similarly, faculty members will be responsible themselves for purchasing research-specific software. 

There will be 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 surplused or taken to the faculty member's home for use there (after completing the necessary paperwork) or else the support benefits of the policy will be lost. Windows desktop machines must be managed systems on either the ArtsFaculty or Nexus domains. 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 the 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 surplused 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, we are normally not allowing these old computers to be shifted to other uses on campus.

Once ACO has received and tabulated the forms it will order the new computers in batches (e.g., 18 Windows machines and 13 Macintosh machines). 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 then remove the old machine (unless the professor has already completed and submitted to ACO the necessary "Off Campus Fixed Asset Location Form" to take it 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.

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