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Information Technology IT Annual Report
Empowering UAB


An Introduction from the CIO

In 2016, UAB IT partnered with constituents across campus to write an IT Strategic Plan designed to empower students, faculty, staff and researchers to do their part to help change the world. The IT Annual Report is a snapshot of our progress toward fulfilling the programs and initiatives under each of the seven IT imperatives, but we are constantly on an upward trajectory. In our relentless pursuit of excellence, we will never stop trying to improve the work experiences of our customers.

- Curtis A. Carver Jr., Ph.D.


Imperative 1: Create a secure computing environment for all UAB members through appropriate policy, training, and technology

Protecting UAB

A Team Effort

Information security is the No. 1 IT strategic imperative at UAB. We need a secure computing environment to protect your personal and financial information but also to protect life-changing research and health information. As a world-class research institution, we need world-class security measures to protect the important work we do. UAB IT is building that environment with a centralized Security Operations Center, an adaptive policy structure and cybersecurity and phishing awareness campaigns. But we encourage the campus community to remember that information security is a team effort. When you protect yourself, you protect us all.


Blocked attacks against UAB students, faculty and staff in the first 24 hours of implementation of Palo Alto filtering.


Suspected phishing emails submitted through PhishMe Reporter.


Increase in speed of response to attacks from phishing emails.


reduction in risk.


Imperative 2: Build an IT shared governance structure with particular focus on partnership with the Health System.

A shared governance structure links priority of IT projects to strategy and resourcing to ensure we channel technology ideas through a process that creates the best value for UAB. In the past year, UAB IT has implemented a number of shared governance objectives, including:

  • Establishing an IT strategy committee
  • Chartering the Information Security Committee
  • Establishing prioritization, strategy and resourcing tiers of shared governance

In addition, UAB IT completed these joint projects with the UAB Health System:

  • Email rationalization: Determined UAB Email and Email HIPAA security architecture
  • Directory enhancement: Changed naming structure in email directory to last name, first name
  • SSN Replacement: Chose identifier to use in place of high risk Social Security number
  • Security Incident Response: Aligned procedures for incident response between UAB IT and HSIS.
  • Internet Bandwidth: Increased bandwidth service for UAB and UAB Health System
  • Data Classification: Developed Joint Data Classification Rule
  • PhishMe Awareness Campaign: Procurement and deployment collaboration
  • Security Forensics


Imperative 3: Create a world-class IT organization such that, if our customers could choose any provider, they would choose UAB IT.

AskIT’s customer service has really become extraordinary.

- Karen Buckner, director of operations, UAB School of Nursing

Significant change

Karen Buckner often felt as if her problems didn’t matter to AskIT.

Buckner, director of operations for the School of Nursing, experienced frustrating delays in service and received inconsistent answers, complicating her job and that of her colleagues as they tried to meet the needs of students, faculty and staff for an academic unit that shapes patient-centered healthcare at UAB.

But after AskIT leaders and technicians embarked on an improvement plan following a low customer service assessment from industry-leading consultant HDI, Buckner noticed a difference.

“In the last year to year and a half we’ve noticed a significant change both just in the approach the AskIT help desk takes with our customers and with our services, We’ve been really pleased to see these changes coming through.”

In six months, AskIT improved its customer service rating from a 0.4 to a 2.44, based on an assessment from HDI, an industry-leading customer service consultant. UAB IT achieved the change by making those improvements a priority — so much so that even Vice President and CIO Curtis A. Carver Jr., Ph.D., sat in to take calls.

New training, standard knowledge sharing and process improvements have helped AskIT’s technicians deliver a more consistent customer service experience for the UAB campus community. And improvement plans continue.

“Our goal is to solve your problems quickly, so that you can get back to work and get back to changing the world,” Carver said.

AskIT first-call resolution rate improved from

49% to 75%

AskIT maturity rating improved from

0.5 to 2.44

Customer satisfaction favorability rose to


We’ve made great progress but our customer service efforts need continuous improvement. We’re committed to our customers and working to provide the best customer service possible

Lately I have seen greater coordination and faster response from Desktop Services. Their support allows us to plan better, and gives us one less thing to worry about.

- Jason Womack, manager, HR information systems

Service Improvements

As we build a world-class IT department, UAB IT has also turned its attention to its Desktop Services unit, which has already made improvements in its response time and in solving incidents remotely but is undertaking a similar customer service evaluation process as AskIT. As we improve customer service across the department, we are defining “bill of rights” IT services that will standardize the technology services across campus, and also establishing service level agreements to provide accountability to our customers as we work to solve their problems. UAB IT and Desktop Services are on a journey toward faster, better and more predictable service and will never stop working to improve.


Decrease in time to resolve Desktop incidents


Bill of rights services defined


Desktop incidents resolved remotely

I get to do something different every day. I really like the direction that the department and IT as a whole is going, and I want to be a part of it.

- Chelsea Root, computer support specialist

Empowering IT Employees

A recent national study of IT employees found that one in four fear their skills could become obsolete. UAB IT is answering that concern with its own team by implementing strategic goals and training plans that give employees the opportunity to reach new potential.

Enhancing skills and developing new ones allows UAB IT’s team to be more agile and innovative in responding to the needs of the UAB community.

UAB IT offers an opportunity for growth and for learning from others' services.

As UAB IT looks to automate processes across campus, the department is also looking within to streamline its own work, decreasing unplanned effort and operational work so that employees can spend more time innovating to empower students, faculty and staff.


Training hours completed by UAB IT employees - up from zero hours


Customer focused goals completed by UAB IT employees


Decrease in unplanned effort


Imperative 4: Generate business value through reduced costs, process innovation, and revenue generation.


Reduction of existing IT budget into new projects


Servers made cloud-ready, reducing depreciated IT debt by $520K

10 to 2

Reduction in steps for student application for admission

$3 Million

Reduction in reserve spending

Stronger Than Ever

Imagine 41 billion single-spaced, type-written pages — that’s how much data researchers in UAB’s Informatics Institute and Center for Clinical and Translational Science sometimes need to transfer as they collaborate with each other and with other institutions analyzing genomics information.

Implementation of a new “science DMZ” — a dedicated research network — means that amount of data can be transferred in about a day, said Jelai Wang, informatics architect at the Informatics Institute.

When their connection to the 100Gbps network is fully implemented, the speeds will be even faster and allow researchers to collaborate more easily with peers and make guarantees about data integrity and security during transit.

“This is tremendously exciting,” Wang said. “Not only will these new developments help us address coming big data transfer scenarios, but as researchers trying to keep up in the fast-paced, rapidly evolving informatics landscape, we also want to be ready for and participate in all of the excitement around analyzing data in the cloud.

UAB IT has been working to reduce costs by rationalizing IT systems and renegotiating contracts; improve processes such as the student application process; and generate revenue through projects such as implementing a new online giving program for the Annual Giving office.


Imperative 5: Innovate UAB through partnerships with institutional business owners with a focus on academic and research operations.

Co-authoring solutions

For humanities professor Andrew Baer, Ph.D., it’s updated classroom technology that gives him the opportunity to get his class started more quickly. For neurobiology professor Kristina Visscher, Ph.D., it’s the expanded supercomputer that gives her vast computing power to accelerate her research. And for a new student on campus, it’s an app that gives him a map with directions to his first class and an update on how much money is in his account for lunch. None of those projects would have happened without strategic partners across campus co-authoring solutions to improve academics, research, student life and more.


Hours of computing on the Cheaha Supercomputer


Mobile integrations in UAB app


Million files in Box


Teraflops of processing power


Intel Haswell processor cores

What the Cheaha supercomputer has allowed me to do is accelerate the whole research process. If you can see better, then you can plan better, you can treat better.

- Frank Skidmore, M.D., associate professor of neurology


Imperative 6: Foster an institutional data-driven decision-making culture that allows UAB to make informed and optimal decisions.

Scott Sorenson, AVP, data operations & business transformations

Data is an asset. We can use it to help improve processes or attract and retain more students and foster research growth.

Automating Student Success

When Stephen Yoder, assistant professor in the Collat School of Business, began using automated alerts through Canvas to contact students who have missed class or who have not logged in to view information about the class, he found that not only did his students become more committed to learning, he became more engaged as well.

The automated alert system in Canvas gives faculty at UAB another technology tool to connect with students — and keep them in the classroom and on the path toward graduation. The alerts are just one way to ensure that even when data is driving action, the results allow for better human connection.

UAB IT is partnering with departments across UAB to help them collect and analyze the data that helps assess the needs on campus and make better decisions for students, faculty and staff. And with more advanced reporting tools, data governance and architecture, departments can share data to help make improvements across campus.


Imperative 7: Enhance the community of information technology excellence for the economic, social, and cultural benefit of Birmingham and beyond.

Life-Changing Decision

Ten months ago, Allante Jowers was working a dead-end job, struggling to pay off student loans so he could return to school, and wondering how he could change his future.

Today, he has a new career as an AskIT analyst, is expanding his technical skills, and will start classes at UAB in January 2018 as he pursues an information systems degree.

What made the difference, Jowers said, was choosing to participate in Innovate Birmingham, a unique new grant-funded program that trains unemployed and under-employed young people in the Birmingham area for high-paying technology jobs. UAB IT has hired three graduates of Innovate Birmingham so far.

“Without a doubt, this changed my life,” Jowers said. “The economic opportunities alone have changed my perspective. And it really does make a difference to work alongside people who want to get better.”

As a part of the larger technology ecosystem in Birmingham and Alabama, UAB IT and its employees participate in a variety of professional and community organizations designed to improve lives not just on campus, but across the community. UAB has extended its high-speed 100Gbps network to Innovation Depot, a downtown Birmingham incubator for technology startups, which will give new entrepreneurs and technology students an opportunity to leverage the power of the UAB network to help improve the technology ecosystem. And Vice President and CIO Curtis A. Carver Jr., Ph.D., serves on the board of TechBridge, an organization whose mission is bring low-cost technology services to non-profits that help alleviate poverty.


Graduates of Innovate Birmingham's first class


Raised by TechBridge in the Birmingham region


Positions on local organizations held by UAB IT individuals

Allante Jowers, IT Support Technician

Everybody has a role to play, and we work together. It’s amazing to see.

Chris Coman, IT Support Technician

It’s been a dream of mine to work with information technology, and it’s finally coming true.

Tristian Scarborough, IT Support Technician

The Depot prepared me for the work I do at UAB IT. I really love the people I work with and helping customers.


UAB IT promises at least 100 technology wins for campus every year, and 2017 was no different. Here are the more than 100 IT wins from our year of co-authoring solutions for UAB.

Strategic Plan

Strategic Plan

Firewall Protections

Firewall Protections

IRAP Vendor Visits UAB

IRAP Vendor Visits UAB

Microsoft Education Tech Days

Microsoft Education Tech Days

WiFi Upgrades

WiFi Upgrades

TechConnect New Payment Methods

TechConnect New Payment Methods

UAB IT, Tech Bridge Host Successful Screen on the Green

UAB IT, Tech Bridge Host Successful Screen on the Green

New research computer/supercomputer

New research computer/supercomputer

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