What is this organization called UNC CAUSE? When did it start? What is its purpose? How did we get here from there?
The Formation of UNC CAUSE
The National College and University System Exchange (CAUSE) provided a forum/national conference for computing professionals to share and exchange common concerns. In 1973, Erwin Danziger, Director ADP at UNC Chapel Hill, provided the encouragement and initiative that resulted in several of the institutions in the UNC System joining National CAUSE collectively with a “system membership.” Although many of us were meeting prior to this time and sharing ideas, the first official meeting of UNC CAUSE was on November 12, 1974, at UNC General Administration in Chapel Hill. The meeting was one day long and 28 persons attended representing 12 of the institutions in the system.
We met to discuss the possibility of establishing a system-wide network of data processing professionals with the goals/objectives of sharing applications between campuses to reduce development costs associated with administrative applications. Since we shared the same goals/objectives as the National CAUSE, we called ourselves UNC CAUSE. Not for Chapel Hill, but for the UNC System!
Attendance of the First Official Meeting
ASU – Jeff Williams, Terry Combs, Alan Coonse
ECU – Bob Bolonde
ECSU – Joe White (retired)
FSU – Eddy Cheng
NCA&T – J. Gulati, Angus Small
NCCU – John Harrell
NCSU – Leo Buckmaster, LeRoy Martin
UNC-CH – Erwin Danziger (Retired), Len Strobel, Charles Foskey, Chuck Autle, Judy Hallman
UNC-C – Ron Short, David Nixon, George Grubbs
UNC-G – Roscoe Allen
UNC-W – Don Trivette
WCU – Aaron Hyatt
WSSU – Pauline Ferguson, Evelyn Henighan
NCECS – Lou Parker, Bob Pearson
UNC-GA – Pete Winfrey (deceased), Allen Barwick
Conference Issues and Development
At our first meeting we talked about sharing personnel, developing a personal referral service, sharing systems concepts, developing/distributing an applications list, and standardizing mandatory data element codes (WICHE-NCHEMS). In addition, we also discussed privacy and security, and common reporting requirements to General Administration. Aren’t we still talking about some of the same issues?
Our next meeting was in October 1975, again hosted by GA, and we had 27 persons in attendance. From there, in 1976 we moved to the NCSU Faculty Club and our attendance increased by one. We soon began to meet two times a year, in the fall and spring, hosted by each of the institutions in turn. Whoever was the bravest had us on campus! At our fall meeting in Elizabeth City in 1979, we made a decision to invite the academic computing center directors to our meetings. Although our original initiative was to embrace administrative computing issues, many of the directors had responsibility for both academic and administrative computing on their campuses and were already in attendance. The spring meeting in 1979 at East Carolina University was opened to all computing center directors from all campuses. Attendance at our meetings has grown: from 37 at ASU in the fall of 1981, to 57 at ECU in the spring of 1984 (had 7 vendors), to 150 in the fall of 1988 at NCSU (29 vendors); and our last one at Chapel Hill had too many to count!
In the late eighties, it just became too difficult to host such a large conference two times a year. Our expenses continued to increase and the vendors who helped subsidize our expenses could not continue this level of support, so we cut back to one large conference a year. It was decided that the conference would be in the fall of each year and a smaller meeting of directors only from each institution would meet in the spring, currently hosted by UNC General Administration. After the tremendous success of the 1993 conference at Chapel Hill, it became obvious that hosting this activity was getting to be too much for one institution. The complexity of organization, program coordination, and handling the logistics required some additional changes. The constituent institutions were split into three regions: the East, the Central, and the West; and instead of one institution hosting the fall meeting, it would be hosted by one of the regions. The West region is composed of Western Carolina University, Appalachian State University, UNC Asheville, Winston Salem State University, and UNC Charlotte. The Central region is composed of North Carolina A & T State University, UNC Greensboro, North Carolina Central University, UNC Chapel Hill, and Pembroke University. The Eastern region is composed of East Carolina University, Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University, UNC Wilmington and North Carolina State University. The 1994 conference is scheduled to be hosted by the West, 1995 by the East and back again to the Central in 1996.
The UNC CAUSE organization has a system-wide membership in National CAUSE and there is at least one, sometimes more, representatives from each campus registered and receiving all CAUSE publications. Do you know who this person is on your campus? We have one voting representative at National CAUSE. Mr. Erwin Danzinger, who was with UNC CAUSE since its origination until his retirement (but we still see him and his vest once in a while), was our first CAUSE representative. Upon his retirement this responsibility was given to Leo Buckmaster at North Carolina State University. Did you know that Erwin was given this unusual vest by the membership of our organization? The vest was made by some of our members from Pembroke and it has the seals/logos of each of the UNC sister institutions.
UNC CAUSE Now
The UNC CAUSE organization has developed into a dynamic, creative, and innovative group of computing professionals providing insight and support for the constituent institutions in their pursuit of the utilization of information technology. (Even the national organization has seen the need to enhance the meaning of CAUSE, defining itself now as “The Association for the Management of Information Technology in Higher Education.”) Our fall meetings are of particular importance to all members and provide a state-wide forum for our staff to be exposed to advances in information technology and have opportunities for professional development at a reasonable cost. Since our beginning, we have solicited active participation from agencies in State Government, specifically those agencies that we deal with on a daily basis in our work. The State Information Processing System (SIPS), State Purchasing, and State Personnel are represented at most of our meetings to share and respond to concerns and issues related to their respective areas. This opportunity for sharing, input, and dialog has enhanced the UNC systems environment and directions related to the technologies we support; it also allows us to have some influence within our State regarding issues involving our chosen profession.
This is an exciting time for computing professionals, given the evolution of computing and the changes that have occurred over the past ten years. We have an ever-increasing opportunity to deliver capabilities to our customers and thus empower them via technology to be more productive and creative in their jobs. Our organization, UNC CAUSE, for the past 20 years has and in the future will continue to help us to be better information technology professionals in the arena of higher education.
By Leo Buckmaster – 1994