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Chancellor's Column

The University is well prepared for Y2K. Soon we
must turn our preparations into action.

November 29, 1999

The millennium fast approaches. Within some forty days we will enter a new century. While we all are personally deciding where and how we should mark the entry of the Year 2000, we must be professionally engaged in the ability of our University to address the so-called Y2K problem. As we enter the final month of the 20th Century, I can tell you that we all should be cautiously optimistic about the University's Y2K preparedness.

Fred Maryanski
Fred Maryanski

Vice Chancellor of Information Services Paul Kobulnicky has told the U.S. Senate that the University of Connecticut expects few major problems at the turn of the new millennium. He cited early planning and State support as essential elements in our preparedness. In testimony before the Senate's Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem, Paul said "the University made good Y2K choices early and received effective financial and technical support from the State. Because of those decisions and that assistance, the University believes it has remediated the mission-critical Y2K issues over which it has internal control, and is prepared to handle situations that might surface as a result of its interactions with outside vendors."

Faculty, staff, and students should be aware that, in addition to remediating facilities and systems, the University has been making important inroads in laboratory equipment Y2K assessment and remediation. And, vendors too have come under close scrutiny in our Y2K preparations. Though vigilance remains necessary, we are generally confident that most of our suppliers are adequately prepared for the Year 2000 changes.

While we are optimistic, we must nevertheless be prepared. During the transition to the Year 2000, and particularly during the critical December 29, 1999 to January 3, 2000 time period, the University, as a State entity, comes under the "State of Connecticut Y2K Emergency Response Plan." The Director of the Division of Public Safety, Chief Bob Hudd, has been designated as the coordinator for the University's Y2K emergency response efforts, with the Public Safety staff and its Emergency Operations Center playing major roles in coordinating our plans with the appropriate State and Federal agencies and in providing uninterrupted police and other services to the University community in anticipation of projected needs from a Y2K conversion and any possible ensuing emergencies.

The University's Emergency Operations Center (EOC) will be open on December 31, 1999 into January 1, 2000. It is located in the Police Training Facility in the Public Safety Building. Key University administrative staff may be summoned to the EOC if emergencies become evident. All regional campus police substations will be in contact with the EOC at Storrs. Immediate contact with mobile units will provide effective coverage of specified University campuses.

In December, a "who's working" memo will be distributed; University Police will receive and record information pertaining to faculty and staff who plan to work New Year's Eve. Also in December, the Fire Department will send out a memo regarding any experiments that will be running during the time change on December 31, 1999. The Department will seek to learn the location of such experiments in order to preclude and prevent the triggering of a catastrophic event in case of loss of electricity, heat, or other computer chip-controlling devices.

Also, the name of a contact person who would respond in the event of any problems will be sought for each experiment or group of experiments. The Fire Department will be monitoring all fire alarm systems for trouble signals and system failures and service technicians will be on duty to respond and make necessary corrections. Personnel from the Department will be checking all elevators starting at 0001 on January 1. If an elevator is found to not be operating properly, it will be tagged "out of service" and corrective action will be taken by University Emergency Maintenance.

It will also be Chief Hudd's responsibility to report the University's status and condition to the State's Emergency Operations Center as required under the State Y2K Emergency Response Plan.

The University community should understand that these actions will be taken within the context of the University operating at reduced capacity on January 1, 2000 due to the absence of undergraduate resident students. However, it is anticipated that a small number of University staff, beyond enhanced Police and Fire staffing levels, will be working at various locations throughout the University as the new year begins.

My own anticipation is that our transition to the Year 2000 will proceed smoothly. This confidence proceeds from knowing that we have made extensive efforts at preparedness. However, preparedness must be translated into action and everyone's cooperation will be appreciated, both as we approach the new year and during the transition period through it.

The Year 2000 transition, while certainly a computer chip issue, is much more than information technology. Public safety, facilities, communications, and vendors are all vital components of our ability to move swiftly and without incident into a new era for us all. All facets of University life will be impacted. I ask your indulgence and cooperation as we seek to minimize risk and be as thorough as we can. If we seem a bit more rigid than usual, please understand that our intent is to assure and ensure the safety, welfare, and operating effectiveness of all who teach, work, and study here.