As we actively prepare for a public health-informed in-residence semester this fall, I hope you are able to take time to relax, reflect, and learn from all that we have experienced these past several months. The amount of innovation, sheer determination, and problem solving accomplished to support the university’s mission has been—and continues to be—incredible. Time after time, I hear from my colleagues how thankful they are for your support, agility, and dedication. Your work is truly appreciated. It is clear that teaching and learning, research, and patient care has never been more reliant on technology.
The innovative and creative spirit of our community flourished over the summer. Working together, we introduced several news tools for our community and expanded access to others, including Adobe Creative Cloud, Dropbox, and LinkedIn Learning. We introduced a new Wolverine Access that is designed to meet the demands of our increasingly connected students, faculty, and staff. ITS and LSA completed a huge service excellence milestone by rolling out TeamDynamix, which is now used by many IT units across our campuses to better serve our customers. The Shared Services Center will begin using it later this summer. The university is now beta testing live transcriptions in Zoom, which helps more members of our community to more fully engage in virtual communications. In less than 24 hours, we worked with the Office of Research to create an elegant web application, healthscreen.umich.edu, to assist in the return of in-person research activities. We are now working with university leaders to extend the app’s use so others can take advantage of it. Staff members joined experts from the School of Public Health to create the MI Safe Start Map for the State of Michigan to track the risk phases of COVID-19 indicators. And, there are many more examples in this newsletter of innovations across the Michigan IT community that support a world-class Michigan educational experience with creative technology, ideas, and excellent customer service.
We cannot, however, be successful without embracing diversity and inclusivity. The language we use makes a difference. Even the jargon we use in information technology has implications for the way we think, including the way we think about each other. ITS joined many industry colleagues in stopping use of the terms “whitelist” and “blacklist.” According to an article in the Journal of the Medical Library Association, the use of such terms, “does not merely reflect a racist culture, but also serves to legitimize and perpetuate it.” We want no part of that. I encourage everyone to use “allowlist” and “denylist” instead.
Building upon this effort, a Words Matter task force led by DePriest Dockins and in partnership with ITS’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee is looking broadly at our nomenclature to recommend alternative terms where possible or terms to eliminate if not needed. Please reach out if you have questions or suggestions for other ways in which we can better reflect the inclusive community we strive to be.
As our plans for the hybrid semester come together, I am confident that we will continue to find new and innovative ways to work together to support a world-class Michigan educational experience. Keep up the great work. Please be sure to take breaks and take care of yourself. Be sure to check on our colleagues via a phone call or text message. We need to take care of each other and support our Michigan IT family. I am very grateful for all of you.
Ravi Pendse PhD
Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer
University of Michigan