The role of the Chief Information Officer

Peter Ho

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Announced on 1 December, the position of CIO, a concurrent appointment, goes to the Registrar Dr Jerry Yu. In his new capacity, Professor Chang told Linkage, Dr Yu will oversee the full integration of IT into a spectrum of processes and systems, from teaching and learning to student and staff records to inventory and payroll systems. He will also have a key role to play in the planning of the future IT infrastructure on campus, including mapping out the IT strategy, defining the necessary architecture and backbone, and specifying the supporting hardware and equipment.

"CityU is young and we can easily stay with the development trend in terms of IT," Professor Chang said. At present, Mr John Dockerill, as Vice-President for Planning and Information Services, has the portfolio of overseeing IT services, which, among other things, cover the library, computing services, and management information. However, as the institution braces itself for further growth over the next two trienniums, most noticeably in the areas of emerging media technology and the launch of a new entity offering associate degrees and continuing education, plans for campus development and re-development have been piling up.

"A lot has to be done in the campus planning arena — building new buildings and remodelling some existing ones--in order for the University to realize its strategic plan," Professor Chang said. In that light, part of Mr Dockerill's existing portfolio will benefit from extra help from "Someone who is very knowledgeable in, and always has stayed at the forefront of, IT." Dr Yu used to head the computing centre at the University of Hong Kong in the 1980s, before he joined CityU. In fact, Professor Chang said, it was Mr Dockerill who recommended Dr Yu for the job and the idea received enthusiastic support from all the vice-presidents and management board members. The new CIO is not the sixth vice-president but he will be attending the weekly Office of the President meetings as a regular member. Dr Yu's duties will be to coordinate and integrate the IT functions of the whole University, across the portfolios of all the vice-presidents, in research, education, institutional advancement, business and finance. For example, one priority the new CIO will tackle is the student record system, now being entirely ported over to the Oracle-based Banner system. In the new database, a student's file, with all the essential personal data and academic record, will be used not only during his/her entire programme but also after he/she graduates and becomes an alumnus. A similar approach will be used in integrating and streamlining staff records and payroll systems.

The President believes IT is a critical means to an end—fulfilling our educational mission. And he would like to create an environment in which the latest proven technologies will permeate into teaching, learning and administrative work. "People need to be encouraged to use IT; they need to realize by themselves IT will improve their productivity," he said, "It is not something to be imposed upon." At present, the University has no intention of making IT skills part of graduation requirements for students or job assessment for staff.

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