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Dear Colleagues and Students,

Last week marked the end of my second month serving as Auburn’s Chief Information Officer. As I reflect on this period, a key element has been my meetings with faculty, staff and students to discuss needs, ideas and opinions regarding the organization and delivery of information technology (IT) on Auburn’s campus. These discussions with members of the Auburn Family have strengthened my commitment to enhancing IT and have helped me appreciate the ingenuity, dedication, and drive that so articulately defines the Auburn community.

Advancing the role of IT at Auburn means we have to first engage in a comprehensive review of the delivery and structure of our current programs and services. As we prepare to launch an IT strategic planning process early next year, I’d like to share some high level ideas the IT community will be focusing on in the coming months:

  1. Securing Auburn’s Technology Enterprise:  While there is no such thing as perfect security, our strategy going forward is to recognize quickly, react effectively, and reduce impact. The service improvements result from this process will be multi-factor security, full back-up and recovery, strengthening credentials, and implementing tools and processes that allow us to recognize, react, and reduce will make a significant difference in protecting not only Auburn, but every student, faculty and staff member.

  2. Strengthening Support for Research: Auburn’s strategic plan will guide us to a new plateau in research. Technology can be an enabler in reaching our goals if that technology is resilient and sustainable. Collaboration tools, such as Box and Zoom, can help Auburn’s researchers collaborate with colleagues working on the National Science Foundation’s Grand Challenges.

  3. Enhancing Professional Development: To attract and retain the best IT professionals, we must rethink our approach to a specialization-based career structure. The University must be able to recruit and retain individuals who are proficient with existing as well as emerging technologies. Securing a diverse pool of talent requires casting a wide net as we look to the marketplace.

  4. Promoting Community Leadership: Auburn must strategically identify opportunities where applied technology can distinguish our campus. We must apply technology and offer the kinds of tools and environments that ensure our campus is a welcoming university for those with disabilities. We plan to begin a leadership forum for future IT leaders who can learn from great leaders at Auburn and in our community.

In early January, members of my staff will be engaging with two groups of consultants to assist in assessing our central IT environment and our overall cyber security position. Representatives from across the campus will be invited to actively participate in the consultant selection process and then be engaged with these studies. The outcome of this process will be a comprehensive plan to strategically improve the IT services provided, with an emphasis on increased efficiency, service delivery, and data security.

I encourage members of the faculty, students, and staff to actively participate in this process. Working together with our campus stakeholders, I am confident that we will present a plan for the future of Auburn’s IT community.

I look forward to sharing our progress with you.

War Eagle,

Jim O’Connor