Strategic plan momentum: moving forward with implementation

Technology is a key differentiator within higher education. Increased access to education, adapting new methods of teaching and learning, enhancing access to digital research infrastructure and enabling secure online environments are just a few of the ways technological advances have increased productivity and success in intuitions.

Now, for the first time at the University of Toronto (U of T), there is a blueprint to help guide information technology and ensure that local decision-making enhances the University experience for everyone – from students and faculty to staff and partners.

We launched that guide, the IT@UofT Strategic Plan, on May 3 to over 400 people at the beautiful and historic Convocation Hall, St. George campus. It sets the framework for Information Technology Services (ITS) and the tri-campus IT@UofT community for the next five years.

The plan was developed following a year-long strategic planning process guided by a steering committee, which began in summer 2018. More than 650 staff, students and faculty across the three campuses as well as partners were engaged. Some of these participants are featured in a new launch video, which celebrates the extraordinary talents of people across all three campuses and multiple departments. The video also outlines the projects and technological solutions recently developed by ITS.

A foundational focus of the plan is its three thematic pillars: people, solutions and collaboration. These pillars will drive the development of further plans within ITS.

Just last week, the ITS leadership team met to discuss the way forward and next steps to realize the plan’s objectives and initiatives. We dug in and it is clear progress is already in motion. We are working on assigning leads to various initiatives and bring the plan to life in our every day work. I encourage divisions to adopt the framework to help align their local planning with the University as a whole. Along the way, ITS will provide regular communication and progress updates to the community.

If you have questions or feedback about the IT@UofT Strategic Plan, please contact:

View the full suite of IT@UofT resources here.

Partnership in practice: CanSSOC and UnITe 2019

Last week, April 8, marked a significant milestone in an important initiative – the Canadian Shared Security Operations Centre (CanSSOC). I am happy to announce that the CanSSOC website is now available. I encourage you to check out this informative communication resource that covers CanSSOC’s objectives, deliverables and benefits.

CanSSOC (a proof of concept) was developed to investigate the frequency and complexity of cyber security threats facing higher education institutions.

This is truly a shared investment and collaboration between six partner universities (University of Alberta, University of British Columbia, McGill University, McMaster University, Ryerson University and University of Toronto). We are also working closely with our NREN partners, CANARIE, BCNET, CYBERA, ORION and RISQ. Together, we are making online safety and security a top priority at higher education institutions across the country.

A shared security operations centre will yield benefits such as rapid response time, increased staff retention and enhanced security.

The estimated completion date for the CanSSOC project is January 2020. I encourage you to check the website often for new information and subscribe to receive project updates.

The UnITe 2019 Conference is only few weeks away – May 1-3 at University of Toronto’s beautiful and historic St. George campus. There is still time to register, the deadline in April 24. Sign up today!

Don’t miss your chance to meet with IT colleagues from across the province, catch our keynote speakers – Canadian icon, Douglas Coupland and health care leader, Dr. Kamran Khan. Read more about our featured speakers.

Thank you for your participation and support of both of these ground-breaking initiatives. See you in May!


UnITe 2019 – Community, service and partnership

I am chairing an innovative conference, UnITe 2019, some may say we have created a unique opportunity this year. The conference is taking place on the beautiful University of Toronto, St. George campus, from May 1–3. What differentiates UnITe 2019 this year is the merging of three distinct events that serve diverse communities into one major celebration of learning and partnership.

UnITe 2019 combines a long-standing University of Toronto (U of T) internal event, Techknowfile (TFK). TKF is rich with tradition and has a focus on service leadership, continuous education and information sharing. The Ontario Higher Education Information Technology (OHEIT) conference is the place to be every year to network, socialize and be part of an innovative program that is for the people, by the people. Last but not least, U of T is partnering with Ryerson University to highlight the importance of staying safe online in today’s ever-changing global landscape. Whether it’s phishing, cyber crime or the importance of protecting your data while travelling for a conference, cyber security is a hot topic that garners a lot of discussion. Together, we present Ryerson University Cybersecurity Day (RUCD).

Do you have an interactive, innovative and engaging workshop or session to share? We are looking for proposal submissions, they are due March 15.

Are you a social butterfly, or highly organized and want to be part of a multi-university team? If so, reach out to us for volunteer opportunities. Highlights of UnITe 2019 include:

  • Conference to be opened by renowned author, artist and Canadian icon, Douglas Coupland
  • 60 plus engaging sessions
  • OHEIT track features social events, fun runs, evening celebration, cocktails and plenty of networking opportunities
  • Technical demonstrations
  • Industry leading sponsors onsite
  • And more… Information on registration and much more will be live shortly, please visit UnITe 2019 often. I invite you to join us in community, service and partnership. See you in the spring!

I am pleased to invite you to visit UnITe 2019 and register today.

Looking forward to catching up with you and seeing our partnership in practice.

See you in May!

Join me in marking Data Privacy Day today

Special guest blog post
Chief Information Security Officer, Isaac Straley

Posted on

It is truly a pleasure and humbling experience to join the University of Toronto (U of T) as the inaugural chief information security officer (CISO). If you did not see the announcement, I am coming from the University of California (UC). After 13 years at UC Irvine, most recently as the CISO – risk and compliance and campus privacy officer, this is a great opportunity to share my experiences and equally learn from you.

In these early days, my highest priority is to hear from you: what you care about, your concerns, and your ideas! I am conducting a consultation and listening tour to get your feedback and input. But I did not make this big move to sit still – we will be increasing the protection of your UTORids and email through enhanced multi-factor authentication (MFA) and Office 365 protections, increasing detection of devices vulnerable to attack and informing faculties and divisions, and publishing risk assessment tools, best practices, and technology recommendations to help our community.

Enough about me, though! As we celebrate Data Privacy Day, it is important to recognize that as more of our information and lives become connected, we have a shared concern and responsibility in protecting our data and understanding of how solutions are secure and private by design.

As part of Data Privacy Day, on Monday, January 28, from 10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., we are hosting an interactive pop-up booth event at the Bahen Centre where you can come learn more about individual steps you can take to protect yourself. I’ll be there from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – please stop by and say hello!

Photo of University of Toronto CISO Isaac Straley

The event is in full-swing and I am enjoying meeting U of T students, staff, and faculty. What a warm welcome from the community. Come out and celebrate Data Privacy Day with us and join the conversation. We are here at the Bahen Centre until 4:30 p.m.

Data Privacy Day ambassador

Data Privacy Day booth

Data Privacy Day - Prize Winner

Core to our values – people of ITS

The ITS leadership team celebrated the end of a successful year and upcoming holiday season with 140 people at the Faculty Club. People that made and continue to make a difference at the University of Toronto. They contribute to making life – teaching, learning, research and working together – easier, more efficient and highly-connected for staff, students and faculty. From ACORN to Quercus – ITS delivered in 2018.

In between the festive treats and catching up with the ITS team, the subject of values came up. Actually, I asked the questions to those gathered. What ITS value resonates with you? What behaviours support these values? And contrarily, what actions are outside of our values? Definitely food for thought as we venture into the next leg of our IT@UofT journey in the new year.

Earlier this spring, we shared the values that were developed by the ITS team. We continue to see them demonstrated at U of T and ITS in particular, and they matter. I continue to receive positive feedback about the people in ITS, and most of them tie back directly to our values. The values seem to resonate, are straight-forward and can be used as a compass. The following quote simplifies this: “When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.” – Roy Disney.

The ITS core values are:

  1. Service and Operational Excellence
  2. Creativity and Critical Thinking
  3. Teamwork
  4. Shared Leadership
  5. Culture of Learning

Learn more about ITS core values and watch the 2018 year in review video montage to see our team living their core values every day.

If you have stories to share about you or your team demonstrating the ITS core values, reach out to, and don’t be shy about calling out people who live into their value – use the True Blue award or our team site.

Thanks for a great year – it is an incredible pleasure to work with such talented and dedicated people.

Fun, food and festivity! The Information Technology Services (ITS) team celebrated its annual Holiday Social on Dec. 13 at the U of T Faculty Club.
Pictured clockwise from top: CIO Bo Wandschneider reflects on 2018, congratulating ITS staff on their many accomplishments; party prep; holiday mugs represent the five ITS core values; staff enjoy appetizers and socialize at the Faculty Club party.