The University of Pittsburgh's first strategic plan for information technology, "An Information Technology Foundation for the 21st Century," was published in May 2000. This plan articulated the University's vision for the use of information technology to support teaching, learning, and research, and defined goals related to that vision. Three years after its publication, the University's vision and goals remain viable. Critical to the usefulness of the plan was the acknowledgement that flexibility was required to respond to rapidly evolving technology. This understanding has been instrumental in the implementation of new technologies that matured after the plan was written.
The University of Pittsburgh has been a leader in the development and use of technology for teaching and research because it views technology as a tool to be used to further these academic endeavors. When the first technology plan was published, Provost James V. Maher noted that for the first time computing and information technology would be fully integrated into the ongoing development of the University's programs. Each year students, faculty, and staff become more reliant on technology to support their academic endeavors, and the thoughtful planning and coordination associated with the development of the technology plan made it possible for the University to maintain its position of leadership and respond to the requirements for advanced technologies and greater availability.
The goals that follow are those developed to guide the creation of the technology plan in 2000. They remain applicable and relevant and will continue to guide the implementation of information technology.
Advances in information technology and the pace of technological changes are transforming student, faculty, and administrative needs and expectations. The centrality of information technology in all aspects of the University environment demands an aggressive and progressive philosophy to adopt and support the numerous technologies that can further the mission of the University. The diversity and quality of programs available to support the use of technology will affect the rate at which advances are made in the areas of teaching, learning, and scholarly research.
"An Information Technology Foundation for the 21st Century" represents an ambitious approach to improve technology infrastructure, facilities, and support while remaining flexible enough to adapt to rapidly changing technology. A balance of centralized and decentralized responsibilities must be defined and appropriate budgets allocated in response to this balance. The locus of responsibility for technology decisions must reside within academic units and must be made with full knowledge of the requirements of the various disciplines. The academic planning process must be the environment in which technology planning occurs. Each academic unit will fully incorporate technology planning into its annual planning process.
The significance of information technology in higher education requires the University to provide students, faculty, and staff with seamless, reliable, high-speed access to the University network, Internet, Internet2, and University resources from locations both on and off-campus. The network must fit the distributed nature of the academic community and support distance education as well as traditional instruction.
Support options must be tailored to the needs of novice and sophisticated users. The identification and implementation of new support technologies will ensure that appropriate resources can be made available to programs and disciplines that require them. The widespread adoption of technology by departments and individual users has changed the nature of support. Support models are now required to be more responsive to centralized and decentralized needs.
It is essential that students and faculty have access to technology tools to effectively engage in teaching, learning, and research activities appropriate to their areas of study. A learning environment must be sustained that supports increased and seamless access to information resources.
The information architecture vision for the institution is based on distributed applications, distributed control, graphical user interfaces with a rich set of consistent functions, and information access.