Terms of Reference

Revised September 2014


Advisory to the Vice-President, Academic & Provost through the Chair, the University Committee on Information and Systems Technology (UCIST) provides a University-wide forum on strategic directions and impacts for university-wide and federated information technology (IT).  

To fulfill this mandate, the committee:

  • Provides recommendations to evolve and sustain the IT Strategic Plan (ITSP) for university-wide IT directions, with involvement and participation of the campus community, in alignment with the University-wide, faculty and academic support departmental strategies.
  • Provides recommendations for the development and sustainment of an Enterprise Architecture (EA) for the University, in terms of its evolving principles, methods, patterns, models and standards, according to changes in local needs and in the IT industry.
  • Provides recommendations to the Chief Information Officer (CIO) on matters concerning information systems, technology and services at Waterloo.
  • Acts as a proactive advocate for users across the university community and as a champion to promote best practices, efficiency, economy, and effective use of IT.
  • Reviews and provides input and feedback on the university-wide and federated IT Portfolio that impacts these strategies and the EA, and help evolve applications and IT services that support university-wide administrative, teaching and learning, and research activities.
  • Considers the impacts of IT practices, services or environments on Waterloo policies and vice versa.
  • Facilitates exchange of information about information systems, technology and services both internal and external to Waterloo.
  • Provides updates on significant and applicable IT activities including on the ITSP, to Executive Council (EC) and as appropriate, to the Deans Council, on a required or requested basis and periodically to the University community.

UCIST may ask IT Resource Groups to provide background information, conduct technical investigations, or perform other activities in support of UCIST agenda items.

Frequency of Meetings

Meetings typically occur every two weeks, with no meetings in July and August.

Roles and Agenda

Committee Chair

UCIST Chair is appointed by the Provost.  The Chair presides over meetings of UCIST and conducts its business in an orderly fashion.  The Chair frames and solicits agendas with input from the committee, ensures follow-ups are acted upon and brings conclusion to items.

Chief Information Officer

The CIO provides leadership for IT strategic and tactical directions for both the campus and the Information Systems and Technology (IST) department. 

Members of UCIST

A member is a standing representative (or an established alternate representative who can contribute to strategic discussions on behalf of the standing member) to UCIST whose role is to ensure the success of the mandate of UCIST.  Members are appointed to serve on UCIST, the term of the appointment set by their direct supervisor. 

Representation on the committee:

  • CIO
  • Faculty representative. Member is an Associate Dean from each Faculty (e.g. Associate Dean, Computing, or other)
  • Associate Vice President, Academic
  • Associate Provost, Students
  • Registrar
  • University Librarian
  • 1 member at large named by the Provost


The Secretary is responsible for record-keeping and providing copies of those records to the Chair, including agendas, minutes and arranging follow-ups, under the direction of the Chair, as declared in committee meetings.

Resources to Committee

A resource to the committee serves as an expert knowledgeable about an area, and available to support discussion about an agenda item at the committee. The resource may be requested to provide information about, or to present on, the item. He/she typically would be the person accountable for the area discussed.

A resource to UCIST can take these forms:

  • Representative from a resource body who is bringing an item forward for presentation and discussion at UCIST;
  • Sponsor for an item at UCIST, which would normally be the senior or appointed accountable person for an agenda item (could be for a project, issue or opportunity);
  • Expert resource to supplement or add input to the discussion about an agenda item.

Examples of resources to the Committee

  • Sponsor of an agenda item
  • Representatives of academic support units
  • IST Director, Enterprise System
  • IST Director, Instructional Technology and Media Services
  • IST Director, Enterprise Architecture
  • Vendor representative

IT Resource Groups

IT resource groups are meeting bodies that focus on IT specialty areas and their operations (e.g., service desk coordination, network management, directories management, online learning tools).

UCIST agendas are planned for approximately a six-month horizon.

An agenda item at UCIST can be a strategy, project, issue or opportunity in line with the Terms of Reference of the committee.  UCIST agenda items must be accompanied, in advance, by an information package. The information package will describe the topic and the action require by UCIST, if any.  Exceptions will be considered by the Chair, based on critical nature or unanticipated circumstances and the topic’s relevance to UCIST’s mandate.

In addition, roundtable agenda items provide brief reports for information only.

UCIST discusses IT at the strategic level.  If there is need for further technical information, a request may be directed to an IT resource group or resource to the committee.  

Appendix - Definitions

University-wide IT

University-wide IT projects or services provided to all users.  The services may be provided by IST and/or through a federated approach.  It represents the overall IT landscape, ecosystem, and priorities, in terms enterprise information technology that serves the campus – the infrastructure, security environment, administrative systems, teaching and learning systems, student service systems, outreach systems and any intersections with faculty/unit systems and technology.

Federated IT

Applications and services are supported by a cooperative effort of IST, the Faculties, and or IT areas in other campus departments (i.e. a federated model).  In this model, the collaborating areas agree upon standards of operation in a collective fashion.

Enterprise Architecture

The overall blueprint of IT at the University of Waterloo, that depicts at a strategic and business, logical and physical basis, the “ecosystem” of data and information, applications and infrastructure that enable campus business services and processes to meet client requirements

Term of Appointment

Term refers to the length of time a representative serves on UCIST.  There are 3 types of terms:

  • Ex-officio – all members are ex-officio except the Member at Large
  • Member at Large – a representative appointed by the Provost, who serves for a period of time and is replaced by another representative at the discretion of the Provost;
  • Meeting term – an established alternate is appointed by a member for a meeting or for an item in a meeting.

IT Portfolio

A list of strategic or significant IT projects normally completed within a fiscal year or over a multi-year period to serve the University.