Computer Equipment Replacement Discussion Points

UW Bothell Technology Advisory Committee

Computer Equipment Replacement

For Input and Discussion

February 16, 2011

Introduction and Background

The technology computer replacement budget allocates approximately $500,000 a year for office and classroom computers, network-related technologies, and classroom presentation technologies.  The TAC document entitled Computer Equipment Replacement: Recommendations Needed described previous work in which the following were determined to be priorities for funding from this budget:

  • Office computers (one computer for each permanent faculty and staff position)
  • Computers in ePodia and in computer classrooms (UW1-120, UW1-121, UW2-105, and UW2-121)
  • Classroom presentation technologies
  • Equipment related to networked services

This document addresses the issues of people and computers that fall outside these existing priorities.

Issues for Input and Discussion:

  1. What should we do about computers and people that don’t fall into TPAG’s categories?
  2. What should we do about exceptions such as requests for non-standard computers?

1. What should we do about computers and people that don’t fall into TPAG’s categories?

We have a large number of campus computers that fall outside the guidelines for the computer replacement budget as determined by TPAG (TAC’s predecessor). TAC needs to consider these computers and recommend an appropriate expectation for replacement funding.  A partial list of computers not covered by the budget follows:

o   Individual programs and departments use their own budgets to fund some computer purchases, including these:


-  Writing Center lab

-  Quantitative Skills Center computers

-  Learning Technologies Studio

-  Second (or third) computers for faculty and staff

-  Computers for Centers, fee-based situations, research, or other self-sustaining programs

-  Mobile devices such as tablets and iPads

o   Some computer replacements typically happen through “trickle down” of older computers being replaced elsewhere, including:


-  Non-permanent employees, including part-time lecturers

-  Reception desks or other areas where computers are not designated for a specific person

o   Student Technology Fee awards have historically funded quite a few computers.   However, the STF committee has made it clear that they no longer intend to fund technology required for instruction, implying that they may no longer pay for some of these. Computers funded by STF awards (some of which are directly related to instruction and some are not) include:


-  Multimedia Studio

-  Open lab

-  Kiosks

-  Program specific labs

-  AxisTV system (display monitors)

-  Education Mobile Lab

-  Laptops circulated to students through the Library

-  Library Information Commons (computer purchases are shared with CCC)

-  Adaptive technology workstations in DSS and the Library

o   Some computers have no clear funding source, and their replacement has always been problematic:


- Science Labs in the Cascadia building (although we have generally funded these with the equipment replacement budget)  

- Library media study rooms (4 rooms, shared with Cascadia)

- Computers related to the collaboratory and labs in UWB Beardslee

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS - computers not funded by equipment replacement budget:

A complete equipment replacement plan would show the expected funding source for all computers.  As IT works towards such a complete plan we would like to bring recommendations for funding these computers to TAC for feedback and approval, but we need some input from you in order to develop those recommendations.  Some questions for discussion:

- Should we ask the campus to increase funding for the equipment replacement budget to cover more of these areas?

- If so, which areas would be appropriate for centralized funding?

- Which areas should be intentionally left for other budgets to cover?

- How do we handle computers for new endeavors? Should we recommend that additional money be put into the equipment replacement budget whenever new investments in people or technology are made, so that the budget goes up as the campus grows?

2. What should we do about exceptions such as requests for non-standard computers?

Sometimes faculty want computers that are not included in our standard offerings.  Standardizing on a small set of computers is a regular best practice in higher ed that increases efficiency, decreases cost, makes it possible for us to support large numbers of computers with only a few staff, and makes volume discounts possible.  It is not feasible to switch to a plan where we hand out money for independent computer purchases without enormous loss of efficiency and enormous increase in related costs. But we still need to accommodate the occasional faculty who may need something really different.


- We try to offer high end computers as part of the equipment replacement package, but sometimes faculty want something more. Should we include in our package an even higher-end PC and Mac for those who need it? It might mean our replacement dollars don’t stretch as far, but it could be worth it in order to meet everyone’s needs.  How would we determine who was eligible for these more expensive computers?

- What about those people whose needs lie completely outside the standard computer package, even with a higher end model available? Should these different needs simply be addressed at the program/department level?

- We could recommend that the replacement budget only funds our standard computers.  Anyone who needs a different level of computer would need to get it funded through their program office.  Is this reasonable?

- What other alternatives should we consider?