Committee on Information Technology

September 23, 2002

The meeting was called to order at 11am. Present were members Bernadine Barnes, Robert Swofford, Ralph Kennedy, Rhoda Channing, and Provost William Gordon.

Swofford brought the Committee up to date on the discussions with Jay Dominick and with Reid Morgan that had taken place during the previous week. The discussions were the result of two articles in the Old Gold & Black which raised the concern that University Police were reading or monitoring email communications or accessing electronic files belonging to members of the Wake Forest University community. The articles contained a quote from University Police Chief Regina Lawson that students should be aware that the information contained in their e-mail exchanges is subject to police scrutiny in many situations.

While the statement by Chief Lawson is technically true, the CIT Policy on Responsible and Ethical Use of Computing Resources sets very strict guidelines and high-level approval procedures that Information Systems staff must follow before accessing emails or electronic files of belonging to users of Wake Forest computer systems. It was noted that the policy was written to provide guidance to IS in connection with any internal investigation that they might conduct, and did not address the case where someone in the Wake Forest community but outside of IS might request access or investigation of possible wrongdoing. The CIT is being asked to consider ammending the policy in order to address the latter case.

Provost Gordon remarked to the Committee that the "standard of proof" he would require before approving a request to monitor the electronic communications or files belonging to a member of the WFU community would be very high indeed. After the events of 9/11/01, everyone would be much more alert to suspected threats to university facilites or individuals. An investigation that involved electronic communication and that sought to protect the University from threats would be considered for approval on a fast-track basis. Nevertheless, Provost Gordon reaffirmed the overwhelming importance to the University community of the privacy of electonic communication and electonic files.

Provost Gordon suggested that CIT contact CIOs at other private Colleges and Universities to learn about the policies in force on their campuses concerning the accessing of files and emails. Swofford agreed to prepare an email and arrange to send it to the appropriate CIOs.

A brief report of the review on Bibliographic software was presented by Rhoda Channing. The review group met several times over the summer and considered three software programs, all now owned by Thompson ISI-ResearchSoft, which also owns ISI Web of Science. The three programs - Reference Manager, ProCite, and EndNote, are all similar in price and in major performance features. Based on a poll of faculty users, it appears that the overwhelming favorite among users is EndNote. Bibliograhies originally collected using one pragram are easily transferred into any other of the programs. All three work equally well with the web and with Microsoft Word, making it easiy to include bibliographic information into a dicument. While it is unlikely that such software will be included in future standard software loads owing to cost, the university may be able to arrange attractive price discounts; and, given sufficient interest,  training courses may be provided by ITC.

Owing to a schedule conflict, it was agreed that future meetings would begin at 12 noon on alternate Mondays in the Library Conference Room adjacent to Library Director Channing's office. The meeting was adjourned at 12:04 pm.

Respectfully submitted,

Robert L. Swofford,
Chair