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Center for Information Technology Services FY 2020 Annual Report

Table of Contents

  • CIO Statement/Mission Statement
  • CITS Overview
  • CITS Strategic Plan and Goals

CIO Statement/Mission Statement

Dr. Peter J. Murray, Chief Information Officer and Vice President for Information Technology

The Center for Information Technology Services (CITS) is the central information technology organization for UMB. Our mission and focus is to treat UMB students, faculty, staff, colleagues, and co-workers as treasured customers. Excellence in service to the UMB community is our challenge and responsibility.

CITS Overview

Composed of five areas, the Center for Information Technology Services provides IT maintenance, support, and oversight to the entire University of Maryland, Baltimore campus. These areas are Technology Operations & Planning, Infrastructure Services, Networking and Communications, Information Security and Compliance, and Enterprise Applications, detailed below:

Technology Operations & Planning includes Project Management, Identity Management and System Integration, Web Applications and Development, IT Training and Communications, IT Support and Software Licensing, Central Administration IT Support and Services, Philanthropy IT Systems and Services, and the Student ERP System.

Infrastructure Services implements and maintains the central computing data centers and infrastructure (i.e., database services, messaging systems, Microsoft systems, UNIX systems, computer operations and data storage) for the campus enterprise computerized services.

Networking and Communications maintains the University communications systems, including Webex and Unity, as well as the campus computer networking systems.

Information Security and Compliance strengthens the security for all University-owned systems, with additional consideration for those systems that have access to sensitive data, monitor industry trends, investigate, locate, and mitigate IT security vulnerabilities, and ensure campus compliance with state and University System of Maryland audit and data security regulations.

Enterprise Applications implements and manages administrative and academic systems, including Quantum Financials, eUMB HRMS, Kuali Research, Blackboard, ImageNow and MediaSite.

Featured Goals

Goal 1:

Assess the state of technology available to West Baltimore community residents where UMB is engaged by June 30, 2018.

Summary - Completed/Milestone Achieved

Designed the computing network for the new CEC space

CITS, in collaboration with other UMB departments, has continued as part of the working group that is designing and building-out the new Community Engagement Center (CEC). The design of the computing network in the renovated building and for the new CEC space, as well as the specifications for the computers, audio-visual equipment, and the cameras that will be installed in the new CEC space, were provide by CITS. The fiber-optic cabling from the UMB Grid facility to the new CEC building, which will provide the network connectivity needed by the CEC operation, is being installed by the CITS network team.

During the reporting period, CITS staff have been working with CEC staff to advise and assist with the installation of antennas on Bio-Park building so that a wireless network could extend into the Bio-Park communities. We have engaged with a non-profit organization called Projectwaves.net to help with a plan for extending wireless connectivity from James McHenry Elementary School to the antennas on Bio-Park buildings.

Provided subsidized internet access to community residents

The most significant activity during this reporting period has been our conversations with Comcast Corp. After several meetings we have a tentative agreement where Comcast would provide Internet access for up to 1000 residences in the Bio-Park communities at a subsidized promotional rate of $9.95, and that this promotional rate would be extended for a term of 5 years. With a Sponsored Service Agreement, UMB would subsidize or pay in full that guaranteed rate for residences in the Bio-Park communities. As of June 30, this deal was not final, but it is a promising solution that hopefully will be established to address the dire digital divide problem in these Bio-Park communities where Internet access is unaffordable and unavailable.

Goal 2:

Assess the state of technology available to global communities where UMB is engaged by June 30, 2018. Develop and execute a strategy with UMB stakeholders by June 30, 2019, to address any deficiencies with technology to support UMB's health, legal, and social work programs in those areas.

Summary - Completed/Milestone Achieved

During this reporting period, CITS personnel worked with personnel in the Maryland Global Initiative Corp. (MGIC) and IHV to discuss, develop, and execute a strategy for better communications and data management via Microsoft Office 365 and the Azure infrastructure as well as with using Zoom audio/video conferencing.

Introduced IT Security strategies for CGE

We also worked with personnel in the UMB Center for Global Engagement (CGE) as well as the Center for Global Engagement Advisory Committee to introduce strategies and advise them on IT security so that any possible deficiencies with IT security could be addressed. We also provided helpful content about information technology and services provided by the Center for Information Technology (CITS) in the Center for Global Engagement Internationalization Report.

In addition, during this period advice and assistance was provided by CITS to the IT teams residing in African countries regarding IT infrastructure, data management and information security.

Goal 3:

Evaluate annual statistics of network utilization and capacity, and collaborate and coordinate with school and department personnel to make strategic investments.

Summary - Completed/Milestone Achieved

Significant network advancements and achievements were made during this reporting period. The following are those additional investments/enhancements:

  • Completed a major network upgrade for the Annapolis Office
  • Installed additional fiber in the Bio-Park to accommodate the network needs of Pharmaron
  • Enhanced cellular and wireless service in the basement of the SMC Campus Center
  • Provided network connectivity to the Amazon AWS infrastructure so that UMB researchers could use this service
  • Finished building a redundant UMB network by moving network equipment to 620 W. Lexington from Howard Hall
  • Upgraded the VPN infrastructure in preparation of COVID-19 tele-working and tele-education solution to handle 10G and up to 10,000 Users.
  • Replaced and upgraded the UMB network monitoring tool so that we can better measure network utilization and capacity

Goal 4:

Develop a plan and strategy that would identify and recommend an infrastructure(s) for storing, managing, and accessing research data.

Summary - Completed/Milestone Achieved

AWS cloud infrastructure implemented for UMB researchers

During the reporting period, the development and implementation of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud infrastructure, including a process and procedure for UMB research entities to use this infrastructure, was completed. Additionally, a procedure for establishing an account for billing, and the education and training of UMB personnel. This powerful cloud infrastructure is now available as a service for UMB researchers to securely store, process, manage, and access their research data.

Data Trust Committed established to provide oversight, develop policies and recommendations of patient data use in research

The second major achievement that continues to develop is the establishment of a Data Trust Committee (DTC), which is comprised of individuals in UMB and University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS). It is chaired by Dr. Bruce Jarrell and Mr. Jon Burns. A DTC sub-committee has met many times during the reporting period to work on a Data Use Agreement between UMB and UMMS, and an agreement with a company called TriNetX, which will store data that will be used for research purposes. The UMMS data stored in the TriNetX infrastructure will be used to support the UMB/Johns Hopkins Clinical Translational Science Award (CTSA). This UMB-UMMS Data Trust Committee will provide oversight, develop policies, and make recommendations related to research use of patient data in clinical systems of the UMMS entities.

Goal 5:

Leverage the IT Stakeholder initiative, “Expanding Resources for Faculty Teaching and Learning with Technology” and prepare a report of recommendations.

Summary - Completed/Milestone Achieved

During the reporting period, the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning with Technology made tremendous progress. The following are three major recommendations and many accomplishments under these recommendations.

Recommendation number 1 - The FCTL will leverage technology to offer faculty development, to promote new e-learning tools, or adopt/expand instructional design services.

Progress:

a. Launched FCTL website February 2020, including faculty featured tutorials.

b. Since early March, the FCTL focused on COVID emergency remote teaching and now recovery. They leveraged the UMB Online Teaching Community to offer webinars and discussions through WebEx to assist in the virtual transition.

  1. Created a Blackboard template faculty could use for quick transition during COVID.
  2. FCTL hosted and recorded a ScreenCastomatic webinar and discussion by Dr. Isabell May.
  3. FCTL hosted and recorded a VoiceThread tutorial by Ashlie Kauffman, School of Social Work.

c. Created virtual faculty tutorial on Strategies for Effective Online Teaching https://www.umaryland.edu/fctl/.

d. Produced educators’ video with Pharmacy faculty on “How to work with the Instructional Design Team”, Dr. Leah Sera.

e. Launched FCTL Instructional Hub in March using Microsoft Teams to push out USM information to educational technology contacts within the schools (February 2020).

f. Launched Diversity and Inclusion resources for anti-racism education of faculty on FCTL website; continue developing content.

g. FCTL created a virtual Medical Educators Essentials Course (MEdEC) in Blackboard for the SOM UME faculty for Course Directors and leaders in the new Renaissance Curriculum, Drs. Devang Patel and Nirav Shah.

h. Collaborated with Deborah Levi in office of disability resources on FCTL website section for accessibility in online learning and universal design for learning.

Recommendation number 2 - Identify, evaluate, create, and cross-promote existing faculty teaching and learning resources in the schools.

i. Hosted a Team-based learning workshop for SOM and Physician Assistant faculty (January 2020).

j. Participated in Faculty Meetings and Town Halls in Law and Pharmacy-Engaged in 15 individual, and approximately 100 total faculty consultations in online learning services and educational tutorials, since April 2020 (includes 30 members of the Didactic Recovery Task Force).

k. Participated in the Didactic Recovery Task Force.

l. Collaborated and promoted USM resources including:

  1. Best practices for Privacy online,
  2. USM On Track, a recovery initiative led by the Kirwan Center offering Professional Development courses by Quality Matters and
  3. Coordinating iDesign, and instructional design resource to support UMB faculty.

m. Developed 24 educational videos for online courses.

n. Engaged in partnership with SSWK and University of Michigan to develop a MOOC on Intimate Partner Violence education.

o. Built year-end summative assessment in Blackboard for Physician Assistant program in Graduate School.

p. Advising SOM Curriculum team on revising Curriculum Evaluation plan in new curriculum, Drs. Joe Martinez and Constance Lecap.

q. Coordinated, launched, and analysis of campus-wide survey on Faculty COVID-19 impact.

r. As of June 15, the Center is developing 14 new courses in Blackboard and re-offering 40 courses, for a total of 54 courses for Fall 2020 semester. These courses include graduate school, law, pharmacy, dentistry, and others (e.g. develop student COVID research safety training in Blackboard).

s. Advised and cross-promoted the Global Teaching Fellows program.

t. Launched Educational Scholars program, now accepting applications for September 2020.

u. Co-hosting Teaching with Technology (TWT) Conference date TBD; working on virtual materials for dissemination.

v. Served on School of Pharmacy task forces to identify best practices for assessment and instructional support in Fall 2020. Will include an online Team-based learning seminar for Pharmacy faculty (July 9, 2020).

w. Chaired the Faculty Professional Development Committee in Graduate School.

x. Enhancing and dissemination of Storyboards and Quality checklists for online education for use by schools.

Recommendation number 3 - Continue to meet with faculty from each school to discuss and identify strategies for professional development and the innovative uses of technology in teaching.

y. A faculty working group is helping Christina Cestone, Executive Director, with the program for the 3rd annual UMB Teaching with Technology Day in spring 2020. Unfortunately, this event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Goal 6:

Increase University knowledge of contemporary productivity tools and applications and well as knowledge of information security best practices.

Summary - Completed/Milestone Achieved

CITS continues to focus on training the UMB community on the features and benefits of Microsoft Office 365. During the reporting period, the following formal training sessions were held: Microsoft Teams/Being a Teams Owner: 26 sessions (240 participants); Office 365 Working From Home: 9 sessions (77 participants); Microsoft OneNote: 2 sessions (19 participants); SharePoint Collaboration: 4 sessions (79 participants). Additionally, there were many other training sessions provided and CITS continues to develop instructional resources on the following webpage: http://www.umaryland.edu/office365/. The web page includes video snippets, how-to documents, and instructional guides for using Microsoft Office 365 applications.

Microsoft Office 365, WebEx, and Zoom trainings regularly provided

To expand the toolbox and the knowledge of contemporary productivity tools, CITS also successfully provided numerous personal training sessions on how to use Cisco Webex and Zoom audio/videoconferencing.

In addition, another campus-wide security awareness training campaign was launched. While the training campaign was not completed by June 30, we expect that we will achieve at least the 80% target completion rate. The KnowBe4 security awareness application was used again for this training.

Goal 7:

Promote knowledge, expertise and career development in CITS by encouraging every staff member to attend at least one professional development opportunity each year.

Summary - Completed/Milestone Achieved

92% participated in at least one professional development opportunity

In FY 2020, the list of CITS staff professional development activities indicated that 101 of the 110 CITS staff (92%) participated in at least one professional development/training activity. We are continuing to promote the acquisition of new knowledge, additional expertise and career development in CITS.

Goal 8:

Expand and promote cultural competence in the Center for Information Technology Services (CITS) by celebrating a climate of diversity and inclusion.

Summary - Completed/Milestone Achieved

Planned to occur again for this fiscal year, at a CITS all organization meeting scheduled for this spring, a member of the Diversity Advisory Council (DAC) was to give a presentation to CITS staff. We have done these the past two years, and they have worked very well in providing information about the DAC, its mission, goals, accomplishments, and events. However, this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the work activities related to COVID, we weren’t able to get the DAC meeting scheduled. We also missed out on having other CITS meetings to discuss cultural competence as we had in previous years. CITS, as an organization, continues to embrace and celebrate a climate of diversity and inclusion.

Goal 9:

Collaborate with colleagues at USM institutions, other Maryland higher education institutions and K – 12 schools to leverage collective buying power.

Summary - Completed/Milestone Achieved

During the reporting period, UMB continued to collaborate extensively with USM institutions, other higher education institutions, K-12 schools and leveraged the buying power of the Maryland Education Enterprise Consortium (MEEC). Longstanding arrangements where IT savings have been realized for UMB include: the USM coordinated Maryland Research and Education Network (MDREN) for reduced cost access to the Internet; the cooperative UMB/UMCP arrangement with the Mid-Atlantic Crossroads (MAX), where UMB is provided access to the high-speed Internet2 network and in exchange for this access, UMCP has located MAX networking equipment in the 300 West Lexington Street computing facility at UMB; the USM-wide Cisco contract for network hardware maintenance; the USM-wide Palo Alto contract for network security equipment; the Internet2 benefit of waived egress fees for Microsoft Azure, Oracle Cloud, Amazon Web Services, and for Duo multi-factor authentication, and other Internet 2 services; and, via MEEC to achieve significant volume discounts for Microsoft licenses, Apple hardware, Dell computers and servers, and other software including: Symantec, Adobe, InCommon, Terminal4, Carbon Black, and MicroFocus; and for consulting services via the use of MEEC resellers that deploy and support enterprise applications, e.g., instructional technology systems, student system, IT security-related systems, etc.

IT savings through UMB collaborations

Another example of longstanding savings is the UMB-facilitated consolidation of the Statistical Analysis System (SAS) contracts from all USM schools to a single contract that UMB administers. Lastly, UMB continues to collaborate with UMCP to maximize the volume discount and the purchase of Mathematica and ArcGIS. The volume discount for these products has been made available to other USM institutions. The MEEC and USM IT cost-saving agreements noted above were shared with and made available to the UMB community via the CITS Software Licensing Office, UMB websites, and in other media and forums.

Goal 10:

Collaborate with UMB and UMCP colleagues to develop and implement a mutual IT strategic plan in FY 2017.

Summary - Completed/Milestone Achieved

Using the UMB-UMCP consolidated Kuali Research environment achieve in FY19, during this reporting period both universities continued to work on developing a consolidated UMB/UMCP research productivity report. The MPower Steering Committee approved the hiring of a Data Analyst who will focus on working with personnel at both universities, and with the combined data in the Kuali database, to generate these consolidated reports. The recruitment of this position is currently underway, and when the position is filled, the electronic process for developing these reports will be finalized so that the reports can be generated quickly and as needed.

UMB-UMCP research productivity report being developed

Also during this reporting period, both institutions collaborated to address many issues related to COVID-19, including sharing approaches and work related to symptom assessment testing, contact tracing, and performing a mapping exercise to locate areas in the State of Maryland where there are gaps in Internet access.

Goal 11:

Partner with Administration and Finance and UMB schools and departments to develop and implement a financial system providing a strategic and streamlined approach to financial analyses.

Summary - Completed/Milestone Achieved

During the reporting period, CITS continued its partnership with Administration and Finance to develop and implement Oracle’s Cloud Financials, Planning and Budgeting, and Analytics solutions. These modern cloud applications are based on best practices and provide a platform for improving business processes and enhancing our ability to make data driven decisions.

The new Quantum financial system was rolled out to the campus in October 2019. It is currently in the “stabilization phase” where based on input from the campus community, adjustments are being made to processes and functionality.

Quantum Financials successfully launched

The new financial system project included the development of an entirely new platform for reporting. During the reporting period, a contemporary analytics software was introduced, a new Data Analytics Office was created, and a new AVP for Data Analytics was hired. This new platform will allow for more sophisticated analyses that will generate reports and dashboards with indicators that will be helpful to decision-making.

Goal 12:

Assessment, Survey, Services

Summary - Completed/Milestone Achieved

Assessment of IT Services

IT Satisfaction Survey

  • An IT satisfaction survey was administered in March 2019 and a report was generated in July 2019. The following two items provide an important benchmark of IT satisfaction, as recorded by faculty, staff, and students.
  • The goal was to achieve a mean score of 4.00 or better for each item on the survey.

How satisfied are you that IT personnel take a “customer-oriented” approach to helping you?

Please rate your overall satisfaction with the IT services you receive.

Goal 13:

Continue to partner with UMB schools and departments and affiliated entities to assess risks, seek vulnerabilities and recommend solutions and mitigate the risks.

Summary - Completed/Milestone Achieved

The Information Security Collaborative (ISC) includes participation from IT leaders, information security professionals, and other IT professionals from CITS, all UMB schools, FPI, and UMMS. There is consensus within the Collaborative membership that an enterprise-wide approach to information security is absolutely necessary.

During the reporting period, there was a special focus on performing comprehensive scans of computers and servers located in every school and department at UMB to locate any vulnerability(s). We have been using a powerful tool called “NESSUS” which is very effective in finding any vulnerability, and which is very helpful in our efforts to mitigate any found vulnerability. This tool and special effort to do these daily scans is helping strengthen our IT Security Program.

Comprehensive security scans were completed for every computer and server at UMB

During the reporting period CITS assisted the School of Pharmacy with their IT audit, which was performed by the USM Internal IT auditors.

There was extensive and collective work done by the ISC and schools and departments to address IT security items related to the COVID-19 pandemic. IT leaders and security professionals collaborated to develop important IT security tips for working remotely and addressed numerous questions about the security of home and mobile devices.

ISC created IT security tips and advice for teleworking during COVID-19 pandemic

Furthermore, IT staff did comprehensive and extensive work checking UMB machines for proper security settings before they were moved off campus to support tele-work and tele-education. Lastly, new IT security tools were purchased to enhance the security of devices installed on-campus as well as devices connected to the UMB network from remote locations.

Goal 14:

Develop a campus-wide instructional technology infrastructure plan by June 30, 2018.

Summary - Completed/Milestone Achieved

In FY19 the UMB instructional technology plan was enhanced with the introduction of the WebEx Training and Webex Events modules, which have improved the on-line classroom experience for students especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Multiple new technologies introduced for remote learning in response to pandemic

The roll-out plan for WebEx “room kits” across schools and departments was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The work activity shifted from an on-campus focus to helping faculty and students use a virtual instructional technology infrastructure. A number of new instructional technologies were implemented during this reporting period, and more specifically just before and during the COVID pandemic. Some examples include: Zoom; Learning Spaces; SmartEvals; Voicethread; Proctoring software; etc.

Goal 15:

Achieve compliance with the latest version of the USM IT security standards and the Office of Legislative Audits information security requirements by June 30, 2018.

Summary - Completed/Milestone Achieved

In FY19, the Maryland State Office of Legislative Audit (OLA) completed an IT audit at UMB which resulted in only one IT/IS discussion note (DN) that was not deemed worthy of inclusion in the final audit report. Considering the hundreds of hours applications and systems were reviewed, data collected, and documentation scrutinized, is a momentous achievement to have just one DN and no final IT finding.

Sole discussion note of exemplary audit report was addressed

During the reporting period, the work to implement the one item that they noted has been completed. There are no additional OLA requirements from their audit that need to be completed.

Goal 16:

Coordinate IT Help Desk operations by completing the implementation of the shared ticketing application initiative.

Summary - Completed/Milestone Achieved

Coordinate IT Help Desk operations

A shared collaborative incident management (helpdesk ticketing) application was implemented in August of 2015 to improve the customer experience. The distributed helpdesk units now have coordinated interactions and a common set of tools to enable each IT support team to assist each other. Ten distinct IT support units that have adopted the common incident management system since its introduction. Over 56,000 incidents have been recorded in FY 2020 using this common system, an increase of 8.7% over the same period in FY 2019. The number of requests transferred between helpdesk teams continues to grow, as older processes are replaced by the incident management system.

More than 56,000 incidents managed by common campus-wide support system

The IT Helpdesk has continued to engage with NPower, a local company aimed at providing professional IT opportunities to individuals in underserved communities. Since beginning this relationship in FY 2018, eight Interns from NPower have worked with the IT Help Desk team for varying lengths of time, with several joining the team in longer-term contracts. FY 2020 saw six NPower Interns on the team. Two of those Interns stayed beyond the initial engagement in contract positions, with another completing her 2nd year as a contract employee. Given the success of these relationships, in the Spring the team brought on a student worker for the first time. While it was a short engagement, the success of that experience has created a path forward for similar relationships in the future.

FY 2020 also saw several experienced technicians leave the Help Desk, all in a relatively short period of time. This created a knowledge vacuum, into which several new employees have been brought to rebuild the team.

The sudden dramatic and unprecedented changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic have challenged the Help Desk in ways unimagined before the global emergence of the Novel Coronavirus. With only a few days warning, the Help Desk became a 100% telework operation, supporting our large and diverse community of users as they too became teleworkers and remote learners. In an instant, most of our end-users needed to learn how to work and communicate from home. In many cases, the tools and access were already in place, so the transition was merely one of training. But for many other users, access had to be granted in addition to the training. Communication and collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, and OneDrive, VPN and Remote Desktop, WebEx and Zoom, have all taken on a much greater importance for our users. The deployment of Quantum Financials and Analytics in the fall also resulted in a dramatic increase in the need for help. With most users working remotely, the traditional approach of on-the-job training by one’s closest co-worker became that much more challenging. As a result, the IT Help Desk has seen an increase in requests for assistance with these tools and systems.

The Help Desk began using a new telephone system which allows routing of calls to the technicians working from home. The team is supplemented by technicians from the Desktop Support and Enterprise Training groups as backup. And as a failsafe, calls are routed to an answering service where a human is available to speak to the caller 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. The result is an increase to greater than 94% of calls answered by a CITS technician, and no calls rolling to a voice mail system. This new system has also allowed us to extend the coverage time for technicians answering the phone by an additional 30 minutes at the start and end of each work day.

IT Helpdesk transitioned to 100% remote and new phone system answered > 94% of calls

A major upgrade of the common incident management system is scheduled for FY21. In addition to minor bug fixes, this new version provides additional reporting capabilities, and a more intuitive interface for end users to enter and track helpdesk tickets. As a result of the previous upgrade, we are now better positioned for subsequent upgrades, which will require fewer IT resources and shorter downtimes. The next upgrade emphasizes the technician interface, bringing greater flexibility for the IT support groups to make customizations specific to their operations.

Help Desk Statistics for FY 2020:

Goal 17:

Expand a common communications infrastructure throughout the University.

Summary - Completed/Milestone Achieved

During the reporting period, the common communications infrastructure was expanded with the extensive use of Microsoft Office 365, WebEx, Zoom, and Blackboard Collaborate, and WebEx Teams, which allows audio calling from computing devices.

Portfolio of communications tools has been expanded

The availability of a portfolio of tools allowed students and employees an opportunity to select the one(s) that they were most familiar with and that would best meet their needs. The expansion of the communications infrastructure and the availability of options within this infrastructure has been well received, as evidenced by the dispersed usage of all of these tools.

Goal 18:

Build-out the identity management infrastructure to maximize user access to systems through the use of a single set of credentials.

Summary - Completed/Milestone Achieved

The implementation of a common ID across UMB was a significant IT accomplishment. This was THE key IT request in the 2011-2016 UMB Strategic Plan. Faculty, staff, and students continue to have the ability to access their UMID applications, email, and computer workstations with this single Userid/Password.

17 new systems implemented that use the UMID and Single Sign-on

During the reporting period, there were 17 additional systems implemented at UMB that were configured to use the UMID and single sign-on capability.