Taking an Active Role Against Racism

Colleagues,

Like many of you, I felt the weight and importance of Tuesday’s verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial — what it means for our country, our community, and our campus. While that verdict will hopefully have lasting repercussions, the work of building a better society shouldn’t stop with this outcome. We all can take an active role in fighting the racism that we hear about in the news, that happens to others, or that we ourselves experience.

While I encourage all of you to help out in the communities you feel you can have the biggest impact, I also want to mention what you can do right here at SJSU.

I’ve always believed that given equal opportunity, so many more in our community could shine even brighter. That’s why we created the SJSU IT Diversity and Inclusion Committee to provide me with feedback and recommendations on how to make our division and campus community a welcoming environment. Starting this summer, I will be joining and leading this committee. I want to thank Kara for leading this effort over the last couple of years. If you’re interested in joining the SJSU IT Diversity and Inclusion Committee with me and making a difference, just send me an email.

In her email earlier this week, President Papazian shared a number of services at your disposal — whether you seek counseling, would like to connect with supportive communities, or are looking for more ways to contribute to anti-racism efforts. I encourage you to give it a second look. And of course, we must keep in mind that our students will need our support and understanding in these changing times.

As always, the SJSU IT Division is here to support you, too. Please do not hesitate to reach out to your supervisor or to me directly.

Thank you,
Bob Lim
Vice President of Information Technology
and CIO at San Jose State University

The 2020 SJSU IT Sparta Awards

It’s important to celebrate the hard work, dedication, and the successes of our division. But it’s equally important to celebrate the people in our team that make this success possible.

What are the SJSU IT Sparta Awards?
The 3rd annual SJSU IT Sparta Individual and Team Awards recognize our staff members who bring out the best in each other through a collaborative spirit, a commitment to innovation, and everyday leadership.  Award winners provide consistent and exceptional service, whether working with students or building something with a campus department. Every member of the IT Division has the opportunity to nominate employees through an open call. From there, I work with the IT Peer Consultation Group to choose the most outstanding project, program, team, or individual to win the award.

It’s my pleasure to announce the 2020 SJSU IT Sparta Award Individual and Team recipients. These folks all went above and beyond, dedicating themselves to helping our university community during one of the most difficult years in SJSU’s long history. They’ve put in the work and led by example, garnering their peers’ respect within SJSU IT and the university at large.

2020 SJSU IT Sparta Award Individual Winner
Tristan Orlino, from the Computing Services Department, is this year’s individual award winner. Tristan was nominated for always going above and beyond his work duties to help our students, staff, and faculty. Your contribution to our virtual lab implementation and deployment was instrumental in our Desktop-as-a-Service strategy’s success.

2020 SJSU IT Sparta Award Team Winners
The Team Award went to Bruce Kelbert, Rod Maciel, Devona Williams, Fred Asuncion, Phil Braverman, Cameron Myers, Danny Vo, Andy Yeung, Daniela Zopiyatle, Frank DeFanti, Jake Hanley, and Trevor Wylie who won this year’s team award.

Thanks to their work with the Equipment Loaning Service last year, our students, faculty, and staff were able to make the transition to remote modalities. Behind the scenes, this team had to quickly change their operating procedures to follow EH&S health & safety guidelines. Those changes involved a lot of extra work, but they went the extra mile to keep the customer experience seamless and positive.

Thank you to everyone who sent in nominations. I also want to thank the SJSU IT Peer Consultation Group for discussing the merits of each candidate and team nominations with me. Their input and feedback are very much appreciated.

Please join me in congratulating this year’s winners!

Thank you.
Bob-

Ensuring Technology Access

Throughout the COVID pandemic, SJSU IT has scaled up our existing Equipment Loaning Service, and we’re going even further in 2021. Students, faculty, and staff can use the equipment loaning service to borrow the technology equipment they need. We have everyday equipment like monitors, mice, keyboards, laptops, webcams, microphones, headsets, etc. With another round of CARES Act funding coming, we’re working directly with faculty and college staff to identify student needs and aligning our equipment inventory to match. Access to technology should never be a barrier for our students.

In Fall 2020, these were the top five things that were checked out:

  1.  Laptops (371)
  2.  WiFi Hotspots (112)
  3.  Webcams (45)
  4. USB Microphones (32)
  5. Headsets (17)

Extending access to education and the resources needed to succeed in higher education is a foundational mission of San Jose State University. The Equipment Loaning Service has been a part of SJSU IT for years, but in the wake of COVID-19, it was apparent that many students’ access would be restricted. We’re doing everything we can to help bridge that gap. 

I want to make sure I recognize and thank Darlene Bargas, Devona Williams, Daniela Zopiyatle, Cameron Myers, Fred Asuncion, Rod Maciel, Andy Yeung, Frank De Fanti, Phil Braverman, Danny Vo, Bruce Kelbert, who put in the work on this program for our campus.

Best regards,
Bob Lim
Vice President of Information Technology
and CIO at San Jose State University

Cross-Pollination at SJSU IT

Dear colleagues:

One of the most frequent questions I get from SJSU IT employees is about development opportunities, and it’s a question I love hearing. It’s a great feeling to know that employees want to grow, excel, try new things, and be their best. To help each of you achieve your goals, we have created a new cross-pollination program to give you those development opportunities.

Cross-pollination exposes you to new skills and new ways of thinking by sharing knowledge with peers across SJSU IT. This is a chance for you to broaden your skillset and give yourself new avenues for growth. The program is focused on you and is intended to enhance your mobility, advancement, and personal growth opportunities. You’ll be paired up with an SJSU IT manager or staff member from outside of your department, who will help you learn specific skills and tasks related to their area of expertise. Participation in this program is entirely voluntary.

If you are interested in this program, you can start the process by talking with your manager. If you have any questions, please reach out to your manager and/or your departmental leader.

I want to thank Joseph Chou for his leadership in putting together this program working with University Personnel. I also want to thank Willie Simon in advance as she will coordinate this program moving forward.

If you have any questions about this program, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. My regular weekly office hours are Thursday from 2 to 4 PM via Zoom.

Best regards,
Bob-

Thank you for your support!

Dear Colleagues.

I hope this message finds you and your family all safe and healthy! I never could have imagined the challenges and changes of the last two months. As I take a moment to reflect, I am astounded by all we have accomplished. I am also extremely proud of you and your dedication to SJSU and SJSU IT. It is my pleasure to be part of such an incredible division.

So, what exactly did we accomplish? Within four short days of President Papazian announcing the shift to online modality, we transitioned an institution of almost 40,000 individuals from a traditional campus-centric university to a completely mobile campus, where approximately 36,000 students are learning remotely, 2100 faculty are teaching remotely, and 1500 staff are working remotely! This is truly amazing.

Thinking back to the first week of shelter in place, I remember a conversation that I had with an SJSU IT employee. We were working on the campus’s transition to the remote work environment, and he said, “You know, three years ago we would not have been in a situation to be able to do this.” And he was right!

In 2017 our President, Mary Papazian, elevated SJSU IT to a division level and shared her vision that technology would play a critical role in the digital transformation of SJSU. She and her cabinet invested in emerging technologies and dramatically increased technology funding. With Mary’s direction and support, we also established strong industry partnerships with technology leaders like IBM and LinkedIn. Our campus’ digital transformation – over the last three years – has provided the building blocks for a solid IT foundation, one that is scalable and modern.

We upgraded our networks and VPN, creating a more mobile and secure campus with higher bandwidth; transitioned from desktops to laptops, so people could work where they need to work; added analytics capabilities to evaluate our service quality and build our online support model; and changed our service model to maximize support for students, faculty, staff, and researchers.

We also shifted key communication and collaboration platforms:

  • WebEx to Zoom for cutting-edge video conferencing

  • Jabber (chat capability) to a much more user-friendly Google Hangout Chat

  • Announce to Marketo for prompt emails and an enterprise solution with analytics capabilities

What this all means is we had the right infrastructure in place to transition to a mobile campus, right when we needed it.

When called to help, everyone in our division mobilized and swiftly worked together to support our transition to online teaching and telecommuting. Your dedication, flexibility, and professionalism were unprecedented as you planned, shifted hours and responsibilities, and reprioritized work to meet new demands. Specifically, with very limited human resource capital, we formed a rapid response team, created a rapid response triage model, and extended coverage. Back-end engineers now respond to emergency tickets within five minutes from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Front-end engineer customer service staff have a target closure time of 10 minutes for teaching-related issues. And this is the shortlist of the many critical steps you took to ensure our success!

Did I mention, all of this great work has been accomplished while transitioning yourselves to remote workspaces and taking care of your own families? Thank you for all you have done, and all you continue to do!

We may face more challenges in the next few weeks and months as we manage the issues surrounding COVID-19, but remember, we are a resourceful and resilient community. Together, we will come out stronger on the other side.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, March 31, is an SJSU holiday. Please take this opportunity to relax and spend some quality time with those you care about. Each of you deserves some downtime – please rest, stay healthy, and be safe!

Sincerely,

Bob-