UM System curators might expand access to employee e-mail

Friday, October 23, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

It may become a bit easier for the University of Missouri System to access its employees’ e-mails.

The system’s Board of Curators will vote Friday morning on a proposed amendment to the Acceptable Use Policy that would grant access to system employees’ e-mails in the case of a “legitimate business need.”

Thursday afternoon, the Academic, Student and External Affairs committee recommended the board pass the amendment.

The proposed amendment is designed to address requests for information from the e-mail records of absent or departed employees.

Currently, the policy includes provisions for accessing employee e-mail when “necessary to maintain or improve the function of University computing resources,” when there is suspected violation of UM policies or federal or state law and to assure compliance with federal or state law.

Anyone requesting access to these e-mails would need to get approval two authority levels above themself. A faculty member, for example, would need approval from a dean, not a department chair.

Gary Allen, UM vice president for information technology, said new UM employees are given the Acceptable Use Policy when they receive their login information. If the change takes place, current employees will be notified, as they are whenever UM collective rules are changed.

A presentation by PricewaterhouseCoopers, which has performed internal audits for the UM System since 1999, highlighted decentralized information technology security controls on the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus as one area of “high risk,” with 94 of the campus’ 303 IT systems managed by individual departments and schools, rather than the Central Information System.

Allen confirmed that a similar problem exists at MU.

Allen said IT employees who perform data retrieval are required to sign confidentiality agreements.

After the meeting, he added that UM is trying to consolidate servers to increase security and reduce costs and to do away with as many physical servers as possible.

The curators also discussed increased enrollment numbers at community colleges and President Barack Obama’s $12 billion community college campaign.

Steve Graham, associate vice president for Academic Affairs, said enrollment at community colleges in Missouri is up 10 to 12 percent.

UM President Gary Forsee said Obama’s community college initiative could impact system schools.

“This is a very significant sea change,” Forsee said. “We have to be aware of the implications.”

Increased financial support for community colleges could impact enrollment at UMKC and the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Forsee said. It could also affect state education appropriations.

The curators talked about proposed changes to the retirement and endowment funds.
“In the past, we invested the endowment and retirement side by side,” UM treasurer John Miller said. The Finance committee recommended that the endowment funds include a riskier mix of investments with a greater potential to gain. The retirement funds, on the other hand, will be invested more conservatively, with less of a chance of loss.

The committee recommended that the curators hire investment managers for the newly added components to the retirement fund portfolio. Shenkman Capital Management and Oaktree Capital Management were recommended to manage High Yield and Bank Loan investments, which could account for as much as 12 percent of the retirement fund plan. Capital Guardian Trust Company and Wellington Management Company were recommended to manage emerging market debt investments, which could account for up to 5 percent of the retirement plan.

The Academic, Student and External Affairs committee also recommended that an undergraduate film studies major and a graduate clinical translation science program be implemented at MU. The board will vote on all proposed changes Friday.

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