This article was published in CAUSE/EFFECT journal, Volume 22 Number 3 1999. Copyright EDUCAUSE. See for additional copyright information.

UCSD LogoCampus Profile
University of California, San Diego

Located on 1,200 acres off the Pacific Coast, the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), enrolls more than 19,000 students. The university is young--founded in 1960--and plans to grow to accommodate 28,000 students within the next 10 years.

Though a large institution, the university incorporates a small-college approach for undergraduates, who enroll in one of five colleges--Revelle, Muir, Thurgood Marshall, Warren, or Eleanor Roosevelt--that each have their own educational philosophies and traditions. The university also includes the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and a large healthcare complex including two medical centers.

UCSD ranks well in higher education. The National Research Council has ranked the institution 10th in the country in the excellence of its graduate programs and the quality of its faculty. The university�s oceanography program and the interdisciplinary neurosciences program both ranked first in the nation, and many of its disciplines were ranked within the top 10. UCSD received $446.1 million in research funding in 1998-1999. UCSD also stands out for its achievements in information technology (IT). It has won national recognition for streamlining administrative and business processes, and it is home to one of two supercomputer centers in the United States.

A balanced approach

Despite shrinking budgets and an increased demand for services, the university was honored in May for its fresh approach to business practices. The Business Affairs management team, led by Vice Chancellor Steven W. Relyea, was the sole winner in the education category for the Rochester Institute of Technology/USA TODAY Quality Cup award, recognizing the team�s successful Balanced Scorecard approach to management. Developed by Robert Kaplan and David Norton at the Harvard Business School, the Balanced Scorecard method balances four factors: employee motivation and morale, effective processes, customer satisfaction, and financial management.

Adopted at UCSD in 1993, the Balanced Scorecard model �isn�t foreign to companies, but it is foreign to most of higher education,� says Relyea, noting that the university has realized more than $6 million in savings and cost avoidance since its integration.

�But it�s not just about money,� he adds. �We�ve developed training programs that give employees the tools they need to improve our systems, we�ve reengineered our business practices to become more productive, and we�ve used benchmarking measures and customer surveys to measure our progress year after year.�

Use of the Balanced Scorecard in Business Affairs fosters alignment of customer and business priorities, ability to track progress over time, evaluation of process changes, identification of opportunities for initiatives and partnerships, accountability to constituents, and development of action plans and strategic direction. (For more information on the Balanced Scorecard model, see

Streamlining processes

The university�s innovative business practices were again recognized in July by the Higher Education Awards Program Council of the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO). UCSD received NACUBO�s top prize for its Link Family, an integrated Web-based environment providing students, faculty, and staff with consistent and easy-to-use access to administrative information.

UCSD was an early adopter of Web technology for such services, according to John McCleary, director of Business Process Initiatives. The Link Family began in the fall of 1996 with StudentLink, an aggregate of student services, such as academic history and billing statements, in a format intuitive to students. It also allows authorized faculty and staff to process and report on student and course information such as class rosters and student records.

FinancialLink was introduced the following spring, enabling authorized faculty and staff to process financial transactions, forecast expenses, and generate reports. The university has since introduced EmployeeLink, TravelLink, and DataLink, and FacilitiesLink is in the works.

Relyea explains that UCSD didn�t take a mainstream approach in developing the Link Family. The institution developed the system in-house through various departments, starting from scratch from its legacy systems. �We took the best parts of our departmental systems and created an institutional system with one look and feel. It�s all intuitive, it�s all integrated, and it�s Web-based. You don�t need proprietary software to use it,� says Relyea.

UCSD employs more than 16,000 people, all of whom interact with or are affected by the business systems that Relyea�s team provides. Business Affairs� recent awards for its enterprising approach to major IT challenges �reflect a UCSD �can-do� attitude that has helped catapult it into the ranks of major research universities in just 39 years,� Relyea says, adding that this approach permeates the university�s academic as well as administrative units.

The goal of the newest planning initiative, Blink, is to develop a �next generation� architecture for Web-based business processes, integrating policies, procedures, and training on the Web. A new employee will easily be able to find step-by-step instructions on how to process a personnel transaction, for example.

McCleary explains, �It�s an attempt to bring the broad business processes that reside in all the different departments, these areas of expertise, and put them in an area that someone can find very easily, very intuitively, without a lot of training.� Blink is intended to be service-oriented rather than organization-oriented, focusing on tasks and services rather than departments.

UCSD�s award for the Link Family follows a NACUBO award in 1998 for its innovative automated merit processing system. The custom-designed, Web-based system has reduced the cycle time of the average merit recommendation process by 25 percent. The system improves the merit process by delivering all relevant information and calculations to the persons making merit recommendations and to subsequent review and approval authorities. (The process was described in a CAUSE/EFFECT article, available at

The bookstore is another area where the university has upgraded its services. As business moves toward electronic commerce, college bookstores are looking for new ways to win customers. Jack Hug, assistant vice chancellor for Auxiliary and Plant Services, explains that the UCSD bookstore is working with the registration process to customize book buying. Students can now order and purchase books electronically through a list tailored for their courses. In a prepackaged, carryout box, the books can be picked up or delivered. The bookstore also offers �UCSD-ready� computers, and credit union loans are available for computers as well as books.

Sharing information

The University of California, San Diego, not only is inventive in developing better business processes, but it also is creative in showing them off. Sharecase99, held in March, was a full-day conference showcasing UCSD�s technology for university staff.

More than a thousand people took advantage of the third annual event, attending track sessions and learning about the technology available to them in their jobs. The Sharecase99 exhibit hall featured such booths as ergonomics, Y2K, and members of the Link Family.

The event was designed not as training but as a forum to share information, explains Elazar Harel, assistant vice chancellor for Administrative Computing and Telecommunications. �After that day we had a huge increase in the usage of systems,� he says. �It was very successful.� (A short video of Sharecase99 is online at

The Center for Magnetic Recording Research was founded in 1983 by a consortium of the U.S. magnetic recording industry to perform research in magnetic disk and tape storage. The modular, three-story research facility at UCSD provides space for laboratories, academic and administrative offices, and support areas.

IT organization

Administrative and academic computing report through separate channels at UCSD. Administrative Computing and Telecommunications (ACT), led by Harel, reports to Relyea in Business Affairs. Academic Computing Services (ACS), directed by Anthony R. Wood, reports alongside the library and the media center to Academic Affairs. ACS is divided into two principle areas, Network Operations and Instructional Computing.

The campus network is one area where ACT and ACS work together. ACT provides the physical aspects of the network while ACS is responsible for network software. The two divisions work closely on the network design. As the university plans for increased enrollment, administrators are careful to ensure that the technology infrastructure will accommodate its growth.

In addition to collaborating with ACT on the campus network, Network Operations is responsible for residential networking, providing a port-per-pillow for 5,500 student beds. It also runs a low-cost, dial-in modem pool consisting of 800 modems.

Because of the multiple funding sources that contribute to UCSD, most of the services that ACS provides, aside from instructional computing, operate on chargeback cost recovery systems. �There is very little central money for campuswide activity,� explains Wood.

Instructional Computing oversees approximately 60 labs containing 1,200 workstations of various platforms. While some labs are open, the rest are operated to the preferences of specific academic departments. A new Instructional Web Development Center facilitates the development of Web-based materials for courses, and technology support for faculty and research is distributed to departments. Much of the scientific research at the university is supported by the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC).

Supercomputer center

Founded in 1985 and now a research unit of the university, the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) provides scientists across the country with access to some of the nations highest performance computing resources. Researchers at the center conduct studies in computational science and develop high-performance computing and network technologies.

In November SDSC will install the largest computer system at an academic institution in the United States. Referred to as the teraflops computer, the system will be able to process a trillion calculations every second and will be available to national academic researchers.

Two years ago SDSC became one of two leading-edge sites in the United States that are supported by the National Science Foundations Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (PACI). As a leading-edge site, SDSC operates the largest computers and is the focus of activities for a 46-institution partnership, the National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (NPACI). The second partnership, the National Computational Science Alliance, is led by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois. Approximately half of SDSCs 300 staff members are funded by NPACI; the rest are funded by other projects.

Deputy Director Michael D. Vildibill explains that SDSC provides project management and tech support to researchers throughout the country. The goal is to put the largest machines here in San Diego and smaller-scale versions at our partner sites, so we can support academic users at multiple sites through different flavors of machines. They can use whatevers best suited for their applications, he says. Vildibill notes that proximity often allows the supercomputer center to build relationships and pursue projects with UCSD researchers. He says, Theres a great sense of collaboration here. We have the blending of this mass of resources with the researchers who desperately need access to them. The serendipity of the campus environment and the relationships is fascinating.


Chancellor Robert C. Dynes

UCSDs mission is to generate new knowledge and to provide, in the research environment, the best education we can for graduate and undergraduate students. Information technology plays a central role as a platform for achieving those educational and research missions. For a research university to remain competitive, it must be at the forefront, using and developing technology that will keep our scholars and investigators at the cutting edge. As a research institution, we think its important for students to learn from people who are generating new knowledge. Its not enough for our students to be exposed to new information; we want them immersed in the creative process and aware of how important that process is.

A flaw in the learning process at a research university--faculty spending so much time conducting research that they are not very accessible--has been eliminated by information technology. I insist that all faculty teach undergraduates, but IT has made a huge impact by increasing the amount of communication between faculty and students; faculty are much more accessible now. Class information--syllabi, problem assignments, course notes--is now on the Web, and students can be better prepared for what theyre going to hear in class. In the learning process it is important to give students an intellectual platform, teaching them to think and to defend their own ideas. Part of that is having students and faculty communicate with each other. Information technology cant replace that, but it can help facilitate that, and it can increase the amount of communication.

CAUSE/EFFECTs Campus Profile department regularly focuses on the information resources environment--information, technology, and services--of an EDUCAUSE member institution, to promote a better understanding of how information resources are organized, managed, planned for, and used in colleges and universities of various sizes and types. This article was written by EDUCAUSE writer/reporter Shannon Burgert, based on a visit to the University of California, San Diego. the table of contents