Ohio University CIO Brice Bible shares his thoughts on key issues
March 15, 2007
By George Mauzy
Media Specialist George Mauzy caught up with Ohio University's newly named Chief Information Officer J. Brice Bible to ask a few questions about his thoughts and plans for IT at the university. Bible comes to Ohio from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and will begin April 16.
What are some of your important goals/initiatives as the leader of IT?
I am excited to join Ohio University and will begin working immediately with all University constituents to create a comprehensive long range IT plan. The following are some initial goals and objectives I believe will be important to the success of IT:
- Continue to build on the security initiatives started last year and create an IT security enterprise that reestablishes confidence in sensitive data protection
- Work closely with campus and college administration to align and optimize the entire IT enterprise (central and distributed)
- Ensure a well-functioning and properly sized central IT organization
- Create an open and transparent IT governance approach to allow for identifying, prioritizing, and monitoring of IT initiatives and services
- Work with campus leaders in moving forward on the new student information system
- Establish a five-year strategic IT plan building on Vision OHIO, the recent consulting recommendations and input from all campus constituents
What are some possible ways an IT department can save the university money during tough budget times?
The rate of innovation and change concerning IT products and services makes maintaining a competitive and reliable IT enterprise extremely challenging. It is vital that the collective campus IT resources are optimally managed to ensure Ohio University is as modern and efficient as possible. Possible ways an IT department can maximize its resources are as follows:
- Explore and pursue opportunities for central/distributed IT collaboration on common or consolidated services
- Bundle central IT and other IT departmental procurements for volume discounts
- Explore outsourcing of noncritical services
- Partner with sister institutions in areas of common IT interest
- Aggressively renegotiate IT maintenance and service contracts
- Standardize IT productivity tools for efficient technical support and management
How will you make sure that the IT operation is transparent to the rest of campus?
Collaboration with faculty staff, students and other stakeholders is vital to identifying and prioritizing appropriate IT initiatives and services. I propose to utilize several vehicles to facilitate this transparent collaboration.
First, an IT governance structure can provide the formal vehicle for this collaboration. This structure, an IT Advisory Council, will consist of representation from all constituent groups to provide guidance for key IT decisions and direction.
Secondly, I will make myself available to meet with key campus groups as often as necessary to gather focused input as well as to provide updates on ongoing initiatives.
Thirdly, we will utilize the Web and other written communications to share status and details related to key IT initiatives. Technology provides an excellent vehicle for this type of two-way interaction.
Finally, I will be open to suggestions for other ways to improve communications and to ensure the campus is fully engaged with the IT activities and direction.
What are some of the things you plan to do to increase IT security?
The 20-point plan initiated last summer was an excellent starting point for improving IT security at Ohio. Several key steps have already been taken (firewall, critical system hardening, reduction in the use of PII, etc). I plan to review the status of this plan and refine our strategy as we go forward. Several key components of an effective IT security program are as follows:
- Implement an appropriately staffed Information Security Office (ISO) to serve as a clearing house for IT security issues
- Aggressively eliminate the unnecessary use of SSNs and ensure proper regulatory compliance is maintained (HIPAA, FERPA, etc.)
- Ensure a robust, reliable and highly secure network infrastructure is implemented and maintained
- Provide access to informative and timely IT security information for all constituents
- Implement and communicate appropriate IT security policies and procedures
Describe some of the ways IT can reduce illegal use of the Internet at Ohio University.
The use of IT services to reduce illegal Internet use should be determined in collaboration with faculty, students and university administration. IT tools are available, at some cost, which can restrict or block unlicensed copyright information at the network border. An alternative may be to utilize the current network security devices to selectively restrict only major offending software protocols (Gnutella, AresWarez, etc). The provision of a legal alternative (Napster, Ruckus, iTunes, etc) as currently available at Ohio University is another method. Of course, the best method to reduce illegal use of the Internet is for every individual to act responsibly.
I look forward to engaging the campus community in selecting the appropriate approach(es) for Ohio University.
How important is it for you to represent IT as a member of the President's Cabinet?
Information Technology has become a vital resource for nearly all aspects of campus life. In many cases, IT can be used to enhance the competitive position of an academic or research program as well as strategic campus-wide initiatives. By serving on the President's Cabinet, I will have the opportunity to best represent IT in accomplishing the overall mission of the university.
Why did you choose Ohio University over other career opportunities?
Ohio University is an excellent university with a stellar academic reputation and a long, well-established history. The recent IT-related security challenges, although not desirable, have focused the university's attention on IT. As an IT leader, I welcome this focus because it will encourage university constituents to debate and determine the core role of IT on campus.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Ohio has one of the most visionary leaders in the country with President (Roderick) McDavis. I am excited to join his leadership team along with the excellent faculty, staff and students at Ohio to create the IT enterprise necessary to support this great university for many years to come.
George Mauzy is a media specialist with University Communications and Marketing.