Stony Brook hires Melissa Woo as CIO

2/25/2016 update: Stony Brook hires Melissa Woo as CIO. Thanks to an anonymous volunteer for the news:

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CIO Melissa Woo leaves UO:

From: Melissa Woo
Date: February 15, 2016 at 9:58:31 AM PST
To: “is-staff@lists.uoregon.edu”
Subject: is-staff: Important news

To my IS colleagues,

After a great deal of consideration, I’m departing the university to pursue other professional opportunities, effective today.

I’m proud of the progress we’ve made since I arrived in 2012, and your commitment and hard work are the primary reasons we have seen so much progress. You work early in the morning and late after 5pm, and some of you wake up in the middle of the night to restore services when the unexpected occurs. I appreciate your dedication, and I appreciate your willingness to change even when that change hasn’t been comfortable.

You’ve made great progress in implementing IT service management using ITIL, after getting certification training from itsm.zone, in order to improve coordination, communication, and service delivery to campus. I hope that you will continue to expand and improve upon ITIL processes in order to best serve the university’s needs.

I am confident that the IS Leadership Team is more than capable of leading during this transition. They have been working together extremely well as a team, and each is an excellent leader in their own right.

In closing, I’ve enjoyed working with each and every one of you. You’re a very talented (and fun!) group of IT professionals, and I will miss you greatly.

All the best,

Melissa

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79 Responses to Stony Brook hires Melissa Woo as CIO

  1. Anonymous says:

    What do you mean by chewed out? Did this happen recently?

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    • Dysfunction says:

      A few board meetings ago – so maybe 6 months. My guess is that she started looking right after. I would have. When a board chair, in a public meeting, expresses on behalf the of the board, their disappointment in your progress for IS/IT and that they were tired of nothing getting done, I read between the lines and call that “chewing out.” Very rarely do board meetings get that kind of direct tone. They are usually just a show.

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  2. Dysfunction says:

    I am not sure what you mean by force out, but I sat in the board meeting audience and listened to Chuck chew our out after her presentation regarding the status of IT. All I am saying is that if the board told me they were tired of the lack of progress and disappointed in my performance over the oast few years and I was not getting the support to do my job – I would leave – voluntarily, forced, or whatever you want to call it.

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  3. Dysfunction says:

    Had I been chewed out by Chuck and the board in a public meeting, I would have left too – a long time ago. I am not saying the status of the IT at UO is all Melissa’s fault, but what I am saying is that the right people believed that. I personally think there are many more people that are responsible – mainly those that control where the money is going.

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    • Dog says:

      if the “right people” know this, whoever the right people are, that would imply she was forced out due to perceived failure regarding the status of IT at the UO (and to date, no one has clearly defined this status). She was not forced out.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    “Last fall she concluded that the structure of the UO was simply unwiling and unable to invest properly in IT.”

    Thanks a lot ‘Leaders’ of University of Oregon.

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  5. Inquiring Mind says:

    And I STILL ask what was accomplished in FIVE YEARS at the UO? Ms. Woo clearly very sharp and capable. Yet that’s a lot of time to work on improving infrastructure, aligning resources with priorities etc. Not asking what the excuses are or who else is to blame. As CIO and VProvost, there’s still responsibility to deliver results such as . . . .

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    • Dog says:

      once again, I don’t necessarily disagree with this, but all this criticism is vague. List specifics of what you believe should have occurred over the last 5 years (Woo was here for only 3 years).

      In addition, left out of this entire thread, is the fact that the Don Harris regime put us seriously behind, seriously.

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      • Anas clypeata says:

        No, during the Don Harris years, IT organization and support significantly improved at the UO.* You’re thinking of Joanne Hugi, the director before Harris. Now that was the dark ages.

        *i.e. We went from being 10 years behind where we should have been to 6 years behind.

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        • Woo Hah! Leadership Is More Than Twittering says:

          Joanne Hugi was the best IT leader UO ever had. Even her
          peers saw it. That’s why there’s the Hugi Excellence Award
          http://www.nwacc.org/programs/awards/excellence_award/hugi.html

          Don’t see a Harris Excellence Award.

          Don’t see a Woo Excellence Award. Wait wait. Woo was named as one of the CIOs who spent the most time playing on Facebook: blog.oregonlive.com/higher-education/2013/11/uos_woo_ranks_high_for_social.html

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          • Thomas Hager says:

            +1. Joanne Hugi guided IT with a steady hand, a consistent level of quality, and an ability to adapt to fast-changing tech. We need fewer show-boaters and short-timers, and more like her.

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        • Dog says:

          No I mean Harris – I agree that he better liasoned with outside world and so gave the appearance of improved organization and support.

          However, Harris did nothing to move us forward (and in fact move us backwards) in terms of the services offered and well as technical equipment and relevant support people. Harris completely snubbed research computing, the open source software movement, and in fact fired all of the linux people within his first year. We were supposed to be a total Microsoft campus under Harris and that’s insane in a strongly evolving open source world.

          Hardly anyone on the outside was aware of this and so his legacy to keep us stagnant was gloriously covered up in a more outward
          (superficially) looking manner compared to Hugi.

          Remember, tho, Harris locked the Fucking Building!

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        • Dog says:

          One more point

          Why do you think that CASit exists?

          Well its unlikely anyone in CAS will admit this – CASiT started because CAS was infuriated at the support to CAS provided by the Harris regime.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    So Ms. Woo has joined Stony Brook in a position we don’t even acknowledge, or have, here at UO: Vice President of Information Technology. Now why are we missing that important position? Ask the greedy, inept leaders who chased Ms. Woo out with their selfish ignorant positions.

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    • uomatters says:

      Some details on what went on behind the scenes would be helpful.

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      • Dog says:

        Well yes I could supply a bunch of details here and in fact met with Melissa on her way out of town 3 days ago.

        In brief:

        1. Nothing nefarious happened, she was not fired nor asked to step down.

        2. Some of this is a case of natural wanderlust for this type of position. I served as a reference for her for more than one position.

        3. The job at Stonybrook carries with it a significantly larger portfolio to oversee, better deputy CIO infrastructure, better reporting lines (directly to a quite supportive IT president), and a significantly larger salary. She was not interested in using this job to increase her salary at the UO.

        4. Last fall she concluded that the structure of the UO was simply unwiling and unable to invest properly in IT. One may criticize her methods of trying to secure this investment (I certainly did) but the bottom line is one too many head bangs against that impenetrable brick wall. The Fuck It moment then arrives.

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    • Uh, says:

      She was the vice provost of IT at UO, which is the academic equivalent to a vice president.

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    • Dog says:

      again, no one chased her out …
      Ignorant position, yes, but no chasing (dogs were not unleashed upon her, just me)

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    • anonymous says:

      Yes, we need more provosts, vice provosts, deans, associate deans, assistant deans, directors, associate directors, assistant directors. More lawyers, too.

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  7. uomatters says:

    Thanks for the update!

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  8. just another volunteer says:

    Melissa Woo to Join Stony Brook as VP for Information Technology and CIO

    http://sb.cc.stonybrook.edu/happenings/facultystaff/melissa-woo-to-join-stony-brook-as-vp-for-information-technology-and-cio/

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    • Anonymous says:

      Interesting that there was nothing on the web about her candidacy at Stony Brook until a final announcement was made. Wonder if the SB campus community had a chance to weigh in on the candidates there? Anyone know who else was considered?

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  9. Dog says:

    On top of all the other problems cited here – this sudden departure means far less time for a “transitional team” to make this smoother. Now such a team might have been disallowed by JH, who always knows better, but the sudden departure precludes this entirely.

    Here’s hoping the new UO home page will be a Lotto page ….

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  10. The Finger says:

    The ignorance and arrogance of this institution is astounding. I am sad for my community and any students that attend. We need more Melissa’s and less of what you are currently calling “leadership”. Seems to be that anyone sticking their neck out to actually improve the place will soon leave or be terminated. Leaving first just shows good insight.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    UO IT strategy is like an out of shape guy who has eaten only mcdonalds for the past 20 years suddenly taking an interest in bicep curls to work the glam muscles

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  12. UOHillBilly says:

    I don’t see how Melissa leaving is a surprise to anyone.

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  13. Used To Be a Believer says:

    Contrast computing at normal top tier research university with what UO offers for faculty researchers. The difference is huge.

    This will be a major reason why UO eventually loses its AAU membership. We’re just don’t support researchers the way other AAU members do, and that’s a major reason why our researchers can’t be competitive when it comes to winning federal funding.

    1. http://research-it.berkeley.edu/programs/berkeley-research-computing

    2. https://www.washington.edu/uwit/divisions/ci/rc/

    3. https://itservices.usc.edu/researchcomputing/

    This was supposed to be fixed when Melissa was hired, but was never made an institutional or IT priority.

    What a shame.

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    • Dog says:

      I know more about this issue than I want to. Simple response: This is not YET an institutional priority and it compromises current cluster hires big time. This was a very HIGH priority for Melissa but the budget process/model does not favor this, so we have made little progress. Some research faculty have left the UO to go to better facilities. I agree, that this is a major problem which is generally not being attended to at any reasonable pace. I have no idea where the BOT is on this issue, but it should have priority.

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      • Dog says:

        In addition, much of the priority nature of Research Computing Infrastructure will depend on the Future VPRI hire and the first of 4 candidates is coming shortly. If we get a legacy person instead of a person that understands the nature of Research in the year 2016, I think this will simply reinforce the polite, BAU, do nothing tendencies, but call it excellent, nature of the UO.

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  14. anonymous says:

    “Hopefully we won’t blindly change reporting relationships and move budget without thoughtfully evaluating each function.”

    Of course we will! That way it will look like we’re working on the problem, when of course we’re not really addressing the issues. :)

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    • MBAfan says:

      This of course is why an MBA has been selected to orchestrate the musical chairs. Of course the problem must always be how the org chart looks not mgt’s inability to understand the problem and achieve results. I think we really need more meetings and committees and that will certainly raise the quality of IT deliverable and lower the cost.
      This will likely not end up that different then the current state. UofO IT: “Trying to catch up to 10 years ago.”

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  15. Curious About the Presidents Sudden Interest in Centralization says:

    What does centralizing IT units really mean ?

    27 IT organizations now report to the CIO so they can be better managed ?

    All IT related budget is transferred from colleges, admin units and auxiliaries to central IT ?

    No accountability to College Deans or Administrative Directors ?

    As we reinvest in IT we should examine each IT function and organize it for optimal efficiency.

    Network and Telecom – central IT.
    Enterprise software – central IT.
    File storage – central IT.
    Web hosting – central IT.
    Data Center Mgt – central IT.
    IT project management – central IT
    System administration and user support business centers (like CAS IT, or Student Life)
    Application Development – central or business centers.

    We are already optimally organized for many of these functions.
    Others need some attention.

    Hopefully we won’t blindly change reporting relationships and move budget without thoughtfully evaluating each function.

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    • Dog says:

      Surely you jest, I see no evidence that we are OPTIMALLY organized for anything. Yes some functions are better organized than other,
      but OPTIMAL organization eludes us.

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  16. 'dead duck' says:

    I suppose one may take an optimistic perspective in this case and assume that the Prez has a lot of discretion to make appointments at the highest levels of the university and also in the CAS, but it would be useful to know who is on the various search committees? and do those inspire confidence that there can be meaningful change. If experience is a reasonable guide the committees will be populated by many of the same hacks who go us into this situation. But like Samuel Johnson I want to believe that there may yet be a ‘triumph of hope over experience.’

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  17. Forrest Grump says:

    The “IT Strategic Plan Presentation to the OA Council” is now available here: http://provost.uoregon.edu/content/central-leadership-transition

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  18. Duck and Cover says:

    Someone with a BS and MBA as CIO? I guess any direct knowledge of technology would be too much to ask. Sounds like an invasion of the bean counters. Time to roll the dice! http://www.boydgaming.com/ Ooooo… they have live webcams if you give up your email, home address, and date of birth – neato!

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    • anonymous says:

      Well, unlike the usual hires which have been LAWYERS for just about anything.

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    • anon and on and on says:

      At least the sense of no-win gambling is made overt now. How many more of these dodgy casino-industry yahoos without a clue about public educational institutions will we have to put up with?

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  19. The Bus says:

    February 16, 2016

    Colleagues,

    Yesterday Melissa Woo, vice provost for information technology and chief information officer, announced that she would be leaving the University of Oregon to pursue other professional opportunities. Melissa has served in this role since 2012. We wish her the best in her future endeavors and thank her for her dedication and hard work during her time here.

    As many of you know, we are at a critical time for our investments in IT, with many exciting opportunities and challenges ahead. Over the past several months, a team of staff, faculty, and senior leadership has been working to develop a strategic plan for IT. While this plan is currently still in development, a copy of the current proposals are articulated in a presentation made to OA Council on Feb. 12, which will be posted to the provost’s website on Wednesday. There will be ongoing campus engagement around these issues over the next several months.

    As it is important that this work continues without interruption, I have asked several of your UO colleagues to assist with these efforts. Chris Krabiel will be stepping in as the interim CIO. Chris is currently the director of finance and operations in the College of Education. Prior to arriving at the University of Oregon Chris served as a senior vice president at Affinity Gaming and a vice president of operational finance at Boyd Gaming. Chris has a wealth of experience in expanding, restructuring, and building organizations, including previously integrating IT systems and functions across large organizations. Chris will be supported by the hard-working existing leadership of Central IS as well as be joined by Miriam Bolton who will lend assistance to the management of Central IS. Miriam is currently the assistant dean for administration and operations in the College of Arts and Sciences.

    In order to ensure we are able to tackle our strategic priorities and move this important work forward, we are also engaging the support of Joe Sventek and an external consultant. Joe is currently the department head of computer and information science in CAS. Joe will be leading our efforts to complete a full assessment of our IT infrastructure over the coming months to assemble a full picture of what our strengths and weaknesses are and what investments are needed to support our mission of being a preeminent research institution. The consultant will be working with us to better rationalize how our IT functions are spread across all of the units on campus.

    While there is much work ahead of us, I am very proud of what we have accomplished in the short time that we have been working on IT strategic planning. I look forward to working with Chris and his team in the coming months, as well as engaging with all of campus, to ensure that we build upon these accomplishments and provide the best possible support to our campus.

    Thank you for your continued great work prior to and during this transition period.

    Sincerely,

    Scott Coltrane

    Provost and Senior Vice President

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    • Dogmatic Ratios says:

      I’m quite certain I’ve never read a less reassuring memo.

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      • uomatters says:

        Yeah, my first reaction was to check that my phone’s hotspot app was working. Then I remembered the athletic department is going to take down UO’s cell phone tower to make room for Vladimir Putin’s IAAF track championship.

        I’m sure that’s just a coincidence. But just in case, I’ve backed up UO’s mission critical info off-site, on the “crap-free” homepage here: https://uomatters.com/uo_links

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    • Anonymous says:

      So you are going to pay an external consultant our salaries and raises in the hope she can fix the problems? You would be much better off using that money for raises, network infrastructure, security, and bonuses for putting up with your dysfunction. Why did Melissa leave?!

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    • elf says:

      I’m disturbed by the choice to bring in yet another consultant. Melissa oversaw two external analyses this year. Both were valuable but cost $$. Now we’re paying for a third consultant in a single academic year?

      Hiring a search firm, I could get behind. It’s going to be difficult to get someone good to be our new CIO. We’ll need help. But another consultant? To highlight the weaknesses of our IT infrastructure a third time? Anyone sensible would look at the first two reports and see what we need to deal with. It seems like Joe Sventek is being asked to repeat work that has already been done, because the powers that be didn’t like the first two answers.

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    • itDude says:

      To be honest, the decision to have people from CAS provide interim leadership of IS is troubling to me. CAS has one of the longest histories on this campus of being an ivory tower of technology. They rarely play well with other departments within the university and typically have a ‘my way or the highway’ approach to technical campus issues. I do not see how they could be expected to guide the university towards a more centralized IT approach. I am concerned that they will see the current and ongoing re-org of IS as an opportunity to influence campus IT in a way that may benefit CAS with little concern for the rest of campus. In my mind this is like having the fox guard the hen house.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Can’t “thumbs up” this enough. CAS IT has never acted in the best interest of technology for the university. I’m not sure how anyone responsible for their attitude and relationship with other units is going to be able to help reform IS.

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        • Dog says:

          Can someone from JH or other unites, or the IS leadership team itself define how IS needs to be reformed in specific terms? I think there is a lot of overlap between significantly under-resourced IS and the need for reform. I imagine if IS were properly resourced, reform would magically appear …

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        • In a university far far away says:

          “Today is the end of IS! The end of a regime that acquiesces to disorder! At this very moment in a building far from here, IS lies to the university while secretly supporting the treachery of the loathsome Consultants! This fierce machine which you have built, upon which we stand will bring an end to the committees, to their cherished meetings! ALL REMAINING UNITS WILL BOW TO CAS IT AND WILL REMEMBER THIS AS THE LAST DAY OF IS!!!” – Director Hux’s speech to the assembled CAS IT minions

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      • checksum says:

        The memo says that CAS employees providing management assistance and infrastructure assessment. The leadership is coming from CoE. While CAS leadership may be naturally biased towards CAS interests, I hardly see their involvement as a threat to the integrity of the process. It’s important that the perspectives of the academic side of the institution are included along with the administrative. I don’t smell a CAS conspiracy here.

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    • uotechmatters says:

      Maybe someone should submit a public records request on how and why these group of people were selected. I would help fund that.

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  20. Anonymous says:

    Too bad it’s too late to get The Rob’s back, a huge, huge, huge Woo fail.

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    • Fact Check says:

      I’m sure that the one of two Robs who still works at IS will be touched to see how much he’s missed.

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  21. LArdman says:

    So who is running IS now? Is it supposed to be a big secret or does somebody have a plan?

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  22. uhoh says:

    Follow up from IT:

    Sent on behalf of the Information Services Leadership Team

    Melissa Woo, Chief Information Officer and Vice Provost for
    Information Services, has left the university to pursue other
    professional opportunities, effective Monday, February 15.

    We wish Melissa the best in her future endeavors.

    You may be wondering about the IT strategic plan. A final draft of the
    plan is with the Office of the Provost. As was announced at Friday’s
    OA Council meeting, the President and Provost will review the plan to
    determine which components to implement, then more assessment will be
    done on IT infrastructure as well as units and functions.

    Melissa’s departure is not a sign that this strategic planning was for
    naught. At the minimum, we have successfully engaged leaders from
    across campus in discussions about the state of the university’s
    technology infrastructure.

    This afternoon at 4pm, Information Services is meeting with the
    Provost’s Chief of Staff to learn more about the transitional
    leadership for Information Services.

    We plan to continue holding monthly IT Directors meetings, and we look
    forward to continuing our work with you.

    Sincerely,

    The Information Services Leadership Team

    Jenna Rakes
    Leeann Ford
    Noreen Hogan
    Patrick Chinn
    Steve Menken
    Will Laney
    Kristin Smith

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  23. thedude says:

    So is the wifi going to get worse now?

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  24. Engineer says:

    I don’t know much about her, but do know how often my dear one had to wake up in the middle of the night and being on call to fix IT issues that could have been prevented. His requests to spend just a little bit more money for better upgrades and equipment were never supported by UO.

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  25. Goat says:

    Oh to be a fly on the wall of Rennie’s right now…

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  26. Anonymous says:

    A loss for UO and IS. We wish you well, Melissa! IS needs more funding and a lot more staff. Centralize the damn IT departments already. Including the many Library offshoots and Athletics. Get Gmail or Office 365 for ALL of campus. Treat your IS staff better.

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    • Anonymous says:

      UO already has Office 365 for all of campus.

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      • Anonymous says:

        No it doesn’t.

        It has the smallest possible feature set of what Office 365 has to offer. UO is currently entitled almost the entire suite of products but has just personal one drive and software downloads enabled. Most of the world wouldn’t call this an Office 365 implementation.

        Leadership wanted a quick win and launched as little as it could as quickly as possible. It hasn’t seriously invested any effort to expand that since then.

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        • Anon says:

          This isn’t true. We have One Drive for Business and web versions of all the office products. office.uoregon.edu

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          • Anonymous says:

            “Personal One Drive” and One Drive for Business mean the same thing. It’s a templated sharepoint space like a “homedrive”. Web versions of all office products, is the same thing as software downloads. They are the same feature.

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        • Anon says:

          So what are we missing that we could have with a full implementation?

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          • Anonymous says:

            E-Mail, Calendaring, Instant Messaging, Video Conferencing, Sharepoint, Shared Document Spaces (not tied to a single person, but a team or other group)… The list goes on and on.

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  27. Anonymous says:

    Hawaii. Make the call.

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  28. Anonymous says:

    She was the only hope for IS. I have no confidence in the remaining leadership. Time to jump ship!

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  29. Anonymous says:

    I cannot fault her one bit. IS is very poorly managed and cannot recruit or maintain talent. I suspect that she was blocked at every turn trying to make needed.

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  30. Anonymous says:

    Can’t say I blame her. Word on the street is she couldn’t stomach the Johnson Hall BS any longer and walked. IS even more demoralized.

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  31. Anonymous says:

    This is a large blow to the University. Ms Woo continued to improve the IS department during her tenure.

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    • Just a bystander says:

      Really?? How did Ms. Woo improve IS? Most of what I saw was her going to conferences and moving around chess pieces (human capital) with little improvement in function or infrastructure. I know she had financial roadblocks, and I get that. But please do inform us on actual results from her 5 years here.

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      • Anonymous says:

        We have seen substantial reductions in outages because of the teams she put together. We had outages close to once a week prior to her tenure. Also the org chart she helped create made more sense in terms of conserving resources then any recent realignment we’ve seen.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Well for one thing she got rid of XXXXX, who was incompetent, mean, petty, sycophantic, inept, and a drain on the talent pool and the University in general. Too bad HR, in their infinite ineptitude, protected XXXXX for so long; to the detriment of the University. Ms. Woo had more balls than anyone else on that score.

        [UOM: Name redacted.]

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  32. inquiring mind says:

    Wow. Departing Effective today. That’s rather unusual for a professional leadership position. No reason to think she was forced out, but doesn’t seem like a “best practice” to exit that way.

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