Penn State approaches the governance of research computing and cyberinfrastructure in a unique manner, utilizing a shared approach that engages faculty, IT professionals, and administrators from across the University, and providing a structure through which researchers can elevate their questions, suggestions, and problems to the highest levels of the university administration. It is not the intention of RCCI Governance to deploy new research-specific IT services; rather, the intention is to influence existing IT services at Penn State such that those services better meet the needs of researchers. RCCI Governance is a body that provides advice, counsel, and influence, enabling better communications and coordination between faculty researchers, IT leaders, IT professionals, and administrators. RCCI also aims to provide research support to Penn State’s front-line research end-users.
RCCI Governance includes the following elements:
- At its core, RCCI Governance relies on communities of practice made up of stakeholders who are tied to the University’s research mission. These communities are sometimes based in formal administrative units such as Colleges and Institutes, and in other cases are based on shared research interests such as Big Data, Instrumentation, or High Performance Computing. Communities of practice, informal or formal, are encouraged to contact the Advisory Council and engage in RCCI Governance.
- The Advisory Council for Research Computing and Cyberinfrastructure serves as the home for working groups intended to help resolve the most difficult challenges facing research computing at Penn State. The AC is comprised of a mixed group of individuals with origins in both faculty and IT positions. The AC’s working groups focus on various points of friction in research computing at the University, such as data governance, software acquisition, IT career tracks, faculty onboarding, and policy issues. Each working group invites participation from additional interested parties drawn from relevant communities of practice.
- The AC’s Working Groups are formed around areas of wide interest to the Penn State research community. While members are primarily drawn from the Advisory Council, working groups also pull in experts from across Penn State’s faculty, IT, and administrator groups. These groups generate recommendations that flow to the full Advisory Council, and then to the Executive Committee, and in turn to the Vice President for Research. Working groups within the Advisory Council have already been established around issues such as Data Classification and Security, High Performance Computing, IT Job Classifications and Career Tracks, and the nascent Penn State Research Network.
- The Executive Committee for Research Computing and Cyberinfrastructure includes faculty members drawn from ten different departments across five colleges. The role of the smaller, more nimble EC is to provide advice to, receive advice from, and serve as a steering body for the AC. The Executive Committee is the link between the Advisory Council and the senior leadership of the University, reporting to the Vice President for Research.
- The Senior Advisor for Research Computing and Cyberinfrastructure, aka the Research Guru, serves on the EC, the AC, and each of the AC’s working groups. The role of the Senior Advisor is to provide advice to, receive advice from, and be fully aware of all relevant activities taking place in the AC, the working groups, the EC, and across the University. The goal of the Senior Advisor is to identify and eliminate every point of friction in research computing and cyberinfrastructure across Penn State, ranging from the smallest technical issues to the largest policy issues.
- Each College and Institute is encouraged to establish a Unit Committee to help collect information and pass it upwards through the governance structure, and to pass solutions, opportunities, recommendations, and best practices back through Penn State. These Unit Committees include broad-based representation from faculty, IT, and administrative groups within the unit. Unit Committees are expected to address issues surrounding not just research, but also instructional and enterprise computing issues, so that coordinated planning can take place.
- Taken together, the communities of practice, the Advisory Council, the Working Groups, the Executive Committee, the Senior Advisor, and the Unit Committees serve to influence the direction of all services, systems, policies, and processes that affect research computing and cyberinfrastructure at Penn State.