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A New Era for IT at UIC: Leadership Retreat

Group photo of UIC CIO, CTO, and Technology Solutions leaders and managers

Fostering Collaboration & Teamwork

Over the Summer, UIC Associate Vice Chancellor for Innovation and Chief Information Officer Matt Riley, hosted a retreat with Technology Solutions leadership and managers to brainstorm ideas and foster collaboration regarding UIC's IT Strategy.

UIC IT Strategy Heading link

As part of the UIC IT Strategy, Riley says his top priority is to transform Technology Solutions into a strategic partner, enabling innovative tech solutions and collaborations on campus.

In support of the UIC IT Strategy, seven initiatives have been defined, each with its own set of goals and objectives. Initiatives consist of projects, plans, and efforts that modernize, enhance, or improve technology at UIC. They are:

  • Forward 
  • Operate with Excellence 
  • Engage 
  • Student Experience 
  • Data 
  • Inspire Learning 
  • Innovate 

During the retreat, Riley reiterated his vision for creating opportunities for achievements in IT that bring people together; adopting the technology necessary to support endeavors like online education, academic programs and fundraising; and building more efficiency in our business process to keep resources flowing toward education and innovation.

As an IT leader with three decades of experience working in higher education, Riley has expressed his leadership style is to entrust those around him, and to empower leaders to make decisions and support innovative ideas. He hosted a retreat in June 2022 for IT leaders to brainstorm ideas, promote cross collaboration, and build camaraderie.

I’ve learned to trust the others that I’m working with on the team, especially when I went into leadership positions… that their ideas are going to be better than mine, and I need to invite those ideas and steer us toward the best of those ideas.

Matt Riley  |  Associate Vice Chancellor for Innovation and Chief Information Officer

Inspire Learning Heading link

Dr. Elizabeth Romero Fuerte - Sr. Director for Learning Technologies & Instructional Innovation

Dr. Elizabeth Romero Fuerte, Sr. Director for Learning Technologies and Instructional Innovation, discussed several goals to Inspire Learning, including providing more EdTech-focused workshops, supporting faculty in the design and delivery of effective and inclusive technology-enhanced education, creating easy-to-use dashboards with valuable EdTech data, and simplifying UIC’s digital learning environment for students and instructors.

These projects and plans support Inspire Learning:

  • Leading the modernization and sustainability of UIC’s digital learning infrastructure.
  • Empowering instructors to leverage educational technology in teaching across multiple instructional modalities.
  • Fostering a culture of scholarly teaching by promoting inquiry-driven and data-informed changes to instructional practices.

One of our objectives is to empower instructors to leverage educational technology in teaching across multiple instructional modalities and provide students with flexible, accessible, and safe user-centered learning spaces, so that all UIC students, regardless of major or need, have an equal opportunity to learn.

Dr. Elizabeth Romero Fuerte  |  Sr. Director for Learning Technologies an Instructional Innovation

Innovate Heading link

Himanshu Sharma, ACER Director

Himanshu Sharma, Director for Advanced Cyberinfrastructure for Education and Research (ACER), shared research computing news related to hiring new talent, retiring SABER, and other updates, but was particularly excited to provide a status on two new research computing services that support the Innovate Initiative.

Launched in August 2022, ACER is proud to announce the availability of High Performance Computing (HPC) in the Cloud and Secure Computing Environment (SCE) in the Cloud. These two new services provide researchers with different options to suit their research needs.

These new services support the Innovate initiative by:

  • Providing platforms and services designed to provide security and scale for heterogeneous research data.
  • Enhancing the technology ideation process and build a pipeline of technology innovation.

UIC researchers and students continue to raise the impact and scope of research on our campus year after year. To support and elevate these activities and ambitions further, the ACER team is truly excited to announce the availability of two new cloud-based services for our researchers: High Performance Computing (HPC) in the Cloud and Secure Computing Environment (SCE) in the Cloud.

Himanshu Sharma  |  Director, Advanced Cyberinfrastructure for Education and Research

Forward Heading link

Matt Riley, Associate Vice Chancellor for Innovation & Chief Information Officer

Matt Riley provided updates for upcoming projects related to the Forward Initiative. The Forward Initiative consists of  strategic plans and technology roadmaps to upgrade, expand, optimize, and/or modernize three areas of campus infrastructure and technology: Data Network and Voice Systems, Data Centers and Research Cyberinfrastructure.

Riley spoke of upcoming infrastructure and network projects in 2023 including the upgrading of the Startel Systems, sunsetting legacy systems including legacy ticketing and phone systems, and expanding wireless networks.

The projects and plans support the following Forward Initiatives:

  • Expanding wi-fi connectivity and eliminating legacy systems
  • Expand cloud infrastructure and explore co-location opportunities

A strong technology infrastructure is an investment in all campus strategic pillars, and enables innovation throughout the organization.

Matt Riley  |  Associate Vice Chancellor for Innovation and Chief Information Officer

Operate with Excellence Heading link

Radhika Reddy Shah speaking at meeting

Director of Software Development and Delivery, Radhika Shah Reddy, shared updates on the Red Modernization project that supports the Operate with Excellence initiative. This year, Technology Solutions will be migrating the Red multisite infrastructure from an on-campus data center to a cloud-based platform that will guarantee UIC Red websites remain 99.99% operational during traffic spikes or server reboots and help establish a truly collaborative developer community where teams can discuss ideas, share open-source software within UIC and innovate.

The Red Modernization project supports the following Operate with Excellence objectives:

  • Developing a simple, sustainable business model for central IT that supports the needs of the university community through central funding and appropriate self-supporting services.
  • Deploying low-code and workflow solutions, scaffolded web applications, and a standardized UI/UX design system to support nimble responses to business functions.

The transition to a cloud-based platform will not only improve Red’s stability and scalability. It will also help alleviate the obstacles our development teams encounter, so we can focus on other enhancements and innovation.

Radhika Shah Reddy  |  Director, Software Development and Delivery

Future of IT@UIC Heading link

Jason Maslanka, Chief Technology Officer

Technology Solutions leadership is dedicated to the university’s mission to advance discovery, transform the world, and inspire excellence through Information Technology.

The next IT leadership retreat is scheduled for mid-September where leadership will meet again to discuss ongoing projects, plans, goals and objectives supporting UIC’s IT Strategy in 2023 and beyond. Stay tuned for updates on upcoming projects including:

  • RequestTracker (RT) Retirement
  • TeamDynamix Implementation
  • Research Exploratory Credit Program
  • CIO Annual Report
  • and more!