Uniting Our IT Operations

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Dear Faculty and Staff of the UNT System:

When I became Chancellor, I provided a vision for the future of our system. This vision defines our destination as a group of people on this journey together. It states that "By 2026, the UNT System is one team, values-driven and customer focused with an emphasis on excellence, curiosity, and innovation."

Last November, we defined our Core Values as a team and those are: Courageous Integrity, Be Curious, We Care, Better Together, and Show Your Fire. Today, while each of the values is relevant, I want to focus on Courageous Integrity. As a demonstration of this very important value of Courageous Integrity, it falls on me to make you aware when I have significant concerns that I believe could greatly impact our future in a negative way.

I also promised transformative change that would provide better operational systems, better services, increased quality and efficiency of these services, and to ensure that the UNT System is always safely positioned for the future in ways that recognize its full potential.

Over my 12 years in the UNT System first as a board member, then a campus President, and now as Chancellor, I have continually had a growing concern about our collective IT systems. I shared these concerns with the Presidents a few weeks ago, and we agreed the best course of action was to engage an external firm, with significant IT expertise, to objectively assess our collective IT operations, capabilities, security, and resources. We recognize IT is a very important part of everything we do.

The findings from the external assessment revealed that our current systems are deficient. We are lacking standardized and documented processes, limited-service reliability, fragmented decision making, inconsistent resource use, limited capacity to take on an emerging digital future, no real IT governance, significant security gaps, limited standard metrics, and breaches in our data streams among many other findings.

As a result of these findings, the Presidents and I agree there is a need to take definitive action and to take it now. Effective today, we are embarking on a System-wide transformation of our IT operations across the entire enterprise.

Over the next 12 to 14 months, we will unite all our IT operations under a single organizational and leadership structure with distributed services to the end users resulting in greater clarity, collaboration, and alignment.

This transformation will result in greater transparency, IT efficiencies, streamlined costs structures, better security and service delivery, and create a more reliable, flexible operation that has the capacity to adapt to the rapidly changing current and future environments.

Our goal for this transformation is to not only better position us for a thriving future, but to breakdown current silos, eliminate single points of failure, increase available resources, and enable us to make dependable data-driven decisions.

As a result of this action, I am sure many of you are wondering what the impact is to you personally and to your role.

First, there are no plans for a reduction in workforce. Some positions may change, and some positions may offer opportunities for new skill development. For those of you who are wondering about end user service, I will assure you that we are focused on maintaining delivery of operations and services with no disruptions. We will also plan for surge needs as they are anticipated.

Through this transformation and the uniting of our IT operations, we will embrace our other core values – such as Better Together, We Care, Be Curious, and Show Your Fire.

I have asked Juan Serrano, UNT System Chief Information Officer, to lead this effort and see that it is a collaborative, seamless transformation, and that we are maximizing our resources and leveraging our expertise across the System. Many of you will be asked to bring your leadership, your ideas, and your expertise to help in this effort.

We will continue to provide consistent communication and conduct town halls to ensure everyone is up to date on changes, progress, and opportunities to make this successful.

With gratitude,

Dr. Michael R. Williams