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News and Updates

Celebrating Innovation, Collaboration and Community

In the fast-paced world of higher ed IT, it can be difficult to pause and celebrate one’s successes.

That’s one of the reasons why this year, CUCCIO will roll out its first ever national awards program.

With the support of CUCCIO’s executive director, three leaders within the CUCCIO community – Graham Mowbray, Rick Bunt and Mark Roman – have come together to help kick-start the program.

Graham was Director of Computing and Communications at Memorial University until he retired in 2014. He says the timing is right for a CUCCIO awards program.

“CUCCIO is still a relatively young organization, but it’s come a long way in recent years,” he said. “It’s shown a lot of value in knowledge sharing and peer networking, and it’s quite obvious that CUCCIO members learn, share experiences and take advice from one another. The awards, in that context, are a way of highlighting excellence in what CUCCIO is doing. I see the awards as another rung on the CUCCIO ladder.”

The inaugural CUCCIO Awards will be held on Thursday, June 18, 2015 at the CANHEIT Gala Dinner, at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton.

With so much innovative and collaborative IT work taking place on campuses across the country, Graham believes the awards will help further facilitate the information-sharing function that provides CUCCIO members with so much value.

“IT is a constantly moving target,” he said. “IT generally moves faster than other areas, such as the infrastructure side of things, and it has been that way for years. It can be difficult for any organization to keep up or create its own best-in-class systems, programs or approaches to solving problems with IT or IS. Through these awards, and through the community itself, CUCCIO can highlight what people have done that the rest of the community should sit up and take notice of.”

Rick Bunt is Professor Emeritus with the Department of Computer Science at the University of Saskatchewan. Before retiring in 2014, he was CIO and Associate Vice-President of ICT for close to 13 years.

“The awards will shine light on some of the great things the IT teams in higher ed institutions in Canada are doing,” Rick said. “In my experience, we struggle sometimes to have universities fully appreciate the incredible business support initiatives that their IT organizations do. Too often, IT shops in universities are simply seen as under the covers, behind the scenes workers, as opposed to business enablers or strategic enablers. This will really help to demonstrate the value IT and IT workers bring to universities.”

Three awards will be presented: the Innovation Award, the Collaboration Award and the Community Building Award. Rick sees the awards program providing value to all members of the CUCCIO community – not just the winners.

“A high tide floats all the boats,” he said. “We will all benefit by recognizing and casting light on some of the great things being done. We’ll be able to go after some of those audiences who aren’t always strong in their recognition of the value of IT, and say, ‘Look what’s being done.’”

Reflecting on the work of CUCCIO members over the past few years, Rick says there are many examples of successful projects that would have been deserving of this type of recognition.

“With the Canadian Access Federation, for example, it was a small team representing a small group of institutions that did the initial work, but the benefit is much more broadly felt. Good work catches on. That’s been one of the real strengths of CUCCIO. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and people learn from what others have done.”

Mark is CIO and Associate Vice-President of ICT at the University of Saskatchewan.

“We need to create a bit of a legacy for CUCCIO, and some form of recognition of the efforts people put into this,” he said. “In this line of work, it’s a full court press every day. People don’t have time for a lot of extra stuff, so putting these awards in place recognizes that people are taking time out of their personal lives to do this – and that’s important.”

Mark believes winners of the inaugural CUCCIO Awards will represent universities of all sizes, working on projects of all types.

“Maybe it’s a project management or governance model. It might be related to how you approach supporting a particular research problem or supporting a data centre. On the teaching and learning side, it might be related to how you approach a MOOC or a hybrid learning model that enhances pedagogy. This will not only improve CUCCIO; it will improve the entire higher ed IT landscape in Canada.”

Most meaningful to Mark are those projects that are both successful locally and can be applied – or at least learned from – globally as well.

“I think the program will celebrate things we can all use,” he said. “There are lots of projects that are unique and special for one university, but it would be really interesting to see projects we can all use.”

The inaugural CUCCIO Awards will be presented on Thursday, June 18, 2015 at the CANHEIT Gala Dinner, at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. The Call for Nominations is set to open early February, and will be open to CUCCIO member institutions until March 30.

To learn more about the CUCCIO Awards, or to submit your nomination, visit: