Representing CANADA'S
IT LEADERS
in Higher Education

CUCCIO undertakes initiatives with a purpose for members and with national and international stakeholders.

Initiatives

Simon Fraser University
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For Members

Leadership Development Program

CUCCIO offers a Leadership Development program to aspiring IT Leaders within its member institutions. This program provides a bespoke program specifically focused on encouraging and mentoring the next cohort of Canadian Higher Ed IT leaders. While a ‘proof of concept’ program was initiated in 2018 with a cohort of 14 individuals, the program officially began in June 2019 with a cohort of 17.

The CUCCIO Leadership Development Program is overseen and managed by the CUCCIO Executive Director, Lori MacMullen, in conjunction with active CUCCIO member CIO, Gayleen Gray from McMaster University, and is primarily facilitated by retired University of Toronto CIO, Robert Cook, in conjunction with ‘guest’ appearances by other active member CIOs. 

Participants are nominated by their IT leaders and, once accepted, they are committed to attending three in-person sessions coinciding with the CUCCIO meetings in the spring, fall and winter semesters. Augmenting the 3 onsite visits, regular online learning modules using face-to-face web conferencing tools are held in between the in-person meetings, ensuring ongoing learning throughout the year.

The in-person interactions at each of the CUCCIO regular meetings help the cohort to come together to build a strong relationship with each other, while also actively interacting with current CIOs to gain insights into current issues, challenges and successes taking place at universities across Canada. They get a unique opportunity to be ‘at the table’ while their CIOs interact, share and collaborate around key issues.

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Focus areas for the program material include:

  • Leadership in the Academy
    • Upon completion of this module, participants will have a broad understanding of the context in which universities operate, and in particular, of the unique aspects of working in this environment.
  • IT Strategy and IT Governance
    • This module will provide participants with the skills required to align business needs and organizational vision in order to develop and deliver a future IT vision (big-picture thinking), along with how to facilitate prioritization and buy-in from stakeholders and senior administration.
  • Leading Institutional Change through Higher Ed IT
    • This module provides participants with skills and understanding of how IT can lead institutional Change Management, Relationship Management, Portfolio Management, Risk Management and more.

For further information, please contact Lori MacMullen, CUCCIO Executive Director (link to Lori’s email or contact info on the site).

Cybersecurity Benchmarking Project


The CUCCIO Cybersecurity Benchmarking Project is designed to identify and promote the use of effective security practices in the higher-education sector. The Project is open to all Canadian colleges and universities. The benchmarking process includes gathering information from a cybersecurity rating service, from online surveys, and from online discussions. Participating institutions receive one year of forensics data, performance scores for things like out-of-date server software and botnet infection levels, and their overall rating. Survey data is collected regarding the use of multi-factor authentication, simulated phishing campaigns for user education, vulnerability management practices, automated or manual responses to systems compromises and other areas of interest. Survey results are compared to ratings and scores. 

Botnet infections example

The chart below shows the Botnet infection score for 40 universities. In this chart, the universities are arranged from left-to-right from the smallest primarily undergraduate institutions to large research-intensive universities. Botnet scores generally decline with the size of the institution due to the increasing number of infected student-owned devices on wireless and residence networks. 

Botnet infection scores for 40 universities - higher is better

There was a correlation between higher scores (fewer detected infections) and the combined use of next-generation firewalls along with DNS firewalls to block command and control traffic from infected devices. This led some institutions to both put in place DNS firewalls and to make more effective use of their existing firewalls. 


A final report, with recommendations, is provided to all participants. 


The project began in 2018 with 40 universities. In 2019 the project grew to 58 colleges and universities. To date the project has focused on two broad areas of interest: best practices for protecting people and for protecting systems. 


For more information on this project, please contact Brian Lesser at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Celebrating This Year's Finalists

Innovation Award

University of Northern British Columbia: To enhance business continuity through the application of Docker containerization technology.
2017 Award Recipient

UNBC Award Winners Innovation

The 2017 Innovation Award was awarded to the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) for its project to enhance business continuity through the application of Docker containerization technology.   UNBC’s containerization project took the process of configuring servers and software from months to a few minutes.  Enabling ITS at UNBC to deliver value to their customers faster and at the same time improving UNBC’s position with respect to business continuity readiness the implementation of Docker containerization helps to prepare UNBC for a future where cloud computing will be ubiquitous and access to these services will be need to be provisioned rapidly and effectively.  

Innovation Award Finalists

Simon Fraser University:  The Official SFU App Suite
Providing students, faculty and staff with a suite of apps endorsed and supported by the university community, the Official SFU App Suite is comprised of four apps (SFU snap for campus experience, SFU Vault for access to storage and files, goSFU for access to courses, enrollment, etc. and Canvas for access to learning tools and services) all available for Android and iOS. 

University of Calgary:  Secure Compute
Calgary’s Secure Computing Program creates a unified virtual research environment to enable researchers to manage their entire project data lifecycle (collect, store, analyze, share, collaborate, and preserve information) through one secure environment, with a specific attention paid to restricted and confidential research data, such as personal health information.

Collaboration Award

University of Alberta: ShareIT Project
2017 Award Recipient

UAlberta Award Winners Collaboration

The 2017 Collaboration Award was awarded to the University of Alberta’s ShareIT project. With executive sponsorship, matching funding from the ministry of Advanced Education through AAHEIT and in conjunction with Cybera, 18 of Alberta's 26 post-secondary institutions worked together to establish a framework for creating a shared services organization. With over 50 people involved in this initiative from across the Alberta post-secondary sector, Cybera, and the Government of Alberta ShareIT demonstrated the viability of a shared services organization and the benefits of increased collaboration across the Alberta higher ed sector through an ecosystem of similar resources, similar ideas and sharing of knowledge. For more information on this exciting initiative please see http://www.cybera.ca/services/shareit/

Collaboration Award Finalists

Simon Fraser University Data Center: Installation of Cedar
In partnership with Compute Canada and regional partner WestGrid, a new, advanced research computing (ARC) system, Cedar is one of four national new supercomputers in Canada that will provide over 11,000 Canadian researchers with access to the latest technology in advanced research computing and expertise.

Led by Laurentian University, the Ontario Group’s Shared CISO
Under the governance of the eight founding institutions, this collaborative initiative develops frameworks, policies and resources to help address IT Security in Ontario higher education with the delivery and management of services and coordination of a shared Chief Information Security Officer. The shared CISO has provided a highly cost effective opportunity to provide essential security resources to a community of Ontario higher educational institutions and has established a collaborative network leveraging shared information and resources.

CUCCIO Community Award

Unlike the innovation and collaboration awards, this award honours a member institution or individual who has demonstrated a passion for CUCCIO’s principles of information-sharing, collaboration and knowledge creation throughout the community.

Rick Bunt Community Award

The 2017 CUCCIO Community Award was awarded to Rick Bunt, Retired CIO University of Saskatchewan and the first elected president of CUCCIO. Rick exemplifies these traits and characteristics through his commitment to CUCCIO since its inception. As a founding Board member and CUCCIO’s first elected President, Rick’s belief in the principles and value of information sharing and collaboration has never wavered.  His commitment to making collaboration happen, not only for his institution but for the Canadian higher ed IT community overall continues even in retirement. From participating on the founding Board of CUCCIO, to sitting as a member of both the Compute Canada and CANARIE Boards, to helping shape and drive a national conversation on Canada’s digital research infrastructure, Rick’s contributions to our community are too numerous to share in their entirety however CUCCIO was delighted to honor Rick’s many contributions with the presentation of the 2017 CUCCIO Community Award.

 

CUCCIO Awards

Celebrating This Year's Finalists - 2018

Innovation Award 2018

The University of British Columbia: Emerging Media Lab
2018 Award Recipient

UBC Emerging Media Lab Innovation 2018

The 2018 Innovation Award was awarded to the University of British Columbia’s Emerging Media Lab.  The Emerging Media Lab (EML) is an experimental space where faculty, students, and staff from all disciplines collaborate with industry and community. Its mission is to evolve learning by creating tools and techniques using emerging media including Augmented, Mixed, and Virtual Reality.  At EML, all members regardless of their role are encouraged to collaborate and experiment with emerging technologies. In this space, faculty members become subject matter experts and students turn in into innovators who can find solutions for faculty members’ problems and answer their questions. EML provides an incubation venue for UBC community especially students outside their academic activities where they can experiment with emerging technologies such as VR, AR, XR, BCI, AI, etc. in order solve educational challenges and enhance learning and student engagement.  For more information on the Emerging Media Lab at UBC please see:  http://eml.ubc.ca/

The 2018 Innovation Award Finalists

Simon Fraser University:  A New Network Data Architecture using Software Defined Architecture
Virtualization technologies have led to an explosion of private cloud services being offered in Simon Fraser University’s primary data centre, the SFU Data Centre.  This has driven an increased importance for responsive high-security networking, but the legacy network was large and complex, making it costly to secure and maintain.  The University required a new network solution to efficiently tackle the increasing demands. The creation of the SFU Data Centre in April 2017 offered the opportunity to implement a new Network Architecture using a modern network solution.  The architecture team made the decision to design and implement the new Architecture using Software Defined Networking (SDN) as the core networking technology in the SFU Data Centre. SFU faced and conquered the challenge of putting together a design that maintains the desired flexibility and agility without sacrificing security or operational efficiency.

For more information on this initiative please contact Randy Raine at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT):  Artemis Cloud Implementation
The implementation of Artemis Cloud at McMaster Children’s Hospital and South Lake Regional Healthcare supports the acquisition, analysis, and redeployment of high frequency physiological data. This data, in combination with electronic medical record (EMR) data is made available to support a multitude of medical studies by the hospitals. A multi-tiered consent model allows a consenter to designate where the patient’s physiological data can be used.  Artemis Cloud is the next phase in a highly successful, award winning research project to make use of high frequency, high fidelity physiological big data in neonatal intensive care environments.  Artemis was developed in local (in hospital) settings and this phase develops the capability to utilize a cloud model, enabling utilization by multiple Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs), independent of size or location.  For UOIT IT Services, it represents a highly visible, highly successful first foray into formal IT support for research, which we intend to leverage into a growth.

For more information please see:  https://itsc.uoit.ca/artemis-cloud-is-in-production.php.

Collaboration Award

Nova Scotia Higher Education IT Shared Services (HISS)
2018 Award Recipient

NS HISS Collaboration 2018

The 2018 Collaboration Award was awarded to Nova Scotia’s Higher-Ed IT Shared Services (HISS) initiative.   In 2014, Nova Scotia’s 10 universities and the Nova Scotia Community College agreed to work together to share IT services. Their vision for sharing was, and still is, guided by the principals of: achieving improved IT service delivery, avoiding and mitigating IT costs, and more effective use of IT resources. Supported through the province’s Excellence in Innovation Fund (EIF), an Executive Director was hired in 2015, and the Higher Ed IT Shared Services governance structure and management office were established. Over the next three years, this voluntary collaboration has focused on shared IT procurement, coordinated IT project management and implementation, and strategic planning and IT advisory across all member institutions. Financial and operational benefits for the members have been significant, and steadily increasing, with a strong foundation for future collaboration being solidified through this initiative. 

The 2018 Collaboration Award Finalists

Simon Fraser University: Development of SFU's One I.S. Strategy
With IT tightly woven into the fabric of everything at SFU, there was an obligation to plan the information systems journey.  By developing a coherent and integrated planning strategy, the value of current and future investments in information systems was maximized ensuring that SFU information systems and services were aligned with SFU’s vision and strategic priorities.

Beginning in the fall of 2016 with a University-wide client satisfaction survey and building off of the survey results, in-person follow-up meetings were held with over 50 unique stakeholder groups comprising several hundred participants to drill down and gain a better understanding of the “pain points” each group was currently experiencing. Several open-ended questions were also asked to understand future information system requirements.  The stakeholder consultation process concluded with a consultation summary document which formed the foundation of a strategic planning exercise to develop the One I.S. Strategic Plan built on the three pillars of SFU’s engagement strategy: research, students, and community and three additional information system specific pillars: administration, digitalization, and people. For more information please see:  www.sfu.ca/one-i-s

University of Victoria:  Higher Ed IT Procurement Project
The Higher Ed IT procurement project is a collaborative procurement initiative which brings together representatives from across the higher education sector in British Columbia and is facilitated in partnership with BCNET, a shared IT services organization. Aimed at delivering IT-related services for 25 public, post-secondary institutions in British Columbia. With a focus on a joint procurement approach for a wide array of IT hardware, software and services and leveraging the sector’s combined volumes, purchasing power, and common interests the overall objective of the project was to provide value to the higher education sector in B.C.  By sourcing contracts that meet member requirements, leveraging the knowledge of the members and sharing learnings the resulting outcome could offer the best overall value, reduce or minimize administrative effort and at the same time ensure a competitive procurement process that is compliant with legislative and regulatory requirements.

CUCCIO Community Award

Unlike the innovation and collaboration awards, this award honours a member institution or individual who has demonstrated a passion for CUCCIO’s principles of information-sharing, collaboration and knowledge creation throughout the community.

Art Exner Community 2018

The 2018 CUCCIO Community Award was awarded to Art Exner, Associate Vice President, Information Technology (IT) Services, University of Regina.

Albeit in his usual understated way, Art Exner exemplifies a commitment and passion for this community through the various roles he has assumed in CUCCIO.  As an active member of CUCCIO Art is one of a handful members who have missed very few meetings.   Serving on the Board for two terms (a total of 6 years), Art was a member of the Governance and Nominations committee and helped to guide a review of the process to appoint the officers of the Board.   In 2014 Art assumed the role of CIO Liaison for the Information Security Special Interest Group (SIG) and plays an active role in providing guidance, direction and advice to the group.  In this role Art has helped shepherd a number of activities including access to an on-line security and education program, development of a soon to be released RFP for SSL certificates and most recently the adoption of an information sharing protocol for CUCCIO members.  In addition to his role with the Security SIG Art serves on the CIO Advisory Committee to CANARIE and the Compute Canada Cyber Security Task Force.

 

CUCCIO Awards

Celebrating This Year's Finalists - 2019

Innovation Award 

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The Innovation Award recognizes innovative IT projects or initiatives that have significantly advanced teaching, learning, research or administration within an institution or in the community.  The recipient of the 2019 Innovation Award is the University of Alberta’s Plaintext Password Sniffing Project.   

To ensure technology and its related services continue to play a key role in supporting teaching, learning and research the University of Alberta has established an internal vision of 'Reset, Reshape, Refocus'.  Under this vision that the Security Team implemented a unique and innovative approach to better secure the campus community.  By leveraging an existing technical investment to enable plain text password sniffing, they successfully built a tool that not only alerts when someone has entered credentials into an unencrypted web-form but also expires those credentials automatically.

The 2018 Innovation Award Finalists

NGSIS Platform Modernization - University of Toronto
For the past ten years, U of T had faced a crisis during its student registration period with its Student Information System (SIS).  To address the issues of an aging and costly mainframe and an outdated code base, U of T embarked on an intense three-year initiative called the Next Generation Student Information Services (NGSIS) Platform Modernization Project.  On November 19, 2018, the project successfully launched and the U of T SIS transformed from a legacy mainframe application with roots in the mid-1970s to an internet-savvy application with modern smarts.
This truly monumental project can now handle approximately 9,000 concurrent users compared to the previous 700 and has set the stage for future technological innovation. It was a complex and risky initiative requiring masterful leadership and architectural wizardry.
For more information on this initiative please contact Frank Boshoff at fThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Research Administration Information System - University of Victoria
Intensive research activity at the University of Victoria requires careful management of over $100M in research funds annually. To accomplish this, the Office of Research Services (ORS) maintains databases of research ethics, grant applications, funding and awards, contracts, publications, theses, talks, meetings, etc. for reporting purposes. UVic-RAIS is by far the largest in-house build by UVic to date using modern technologies with over 2,000 hours of technical and design effort and 70,000 lines of code written.  RAIS represents innovation in technology, features and approach, with the focus on ease of use and access for our UVic researchers.  With this innovative development, the UVic-RAIS team has raised the bar on research ethics management systems.
For more information please contact Ivan Petrovic at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Collaboration Award

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Cyber Incident Response Framework - Information Security SIG 
Information security is a high profile, high risk area of concern and attention for all CUCCIO members.  Those acting against our information security interests are freely sharing and trading information about us.  Our failure to share information and best practice, and to act in a coordinated fashion, puts our members at increased risk of organizational harm.  This challenge, posed by the CUCCIO CIO’s to the Security Special Interest Group (the SSIG), was the motivation behind this collaborative effort.  Using the SSIG as a recruiting device the group self-organized, identified a lead author to outline and develop the document based on community direction, and through discussion, debate, and contributed material arrived at the guide submitted to CUCCIO and planned for join publication with CAUBO.
For more information please contact Kevin Vadnais at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The 2018 Collaboration Award Finalists

Learning Management Consortium Migration of Moodle to the Cloud - University of Alberta
This project was a collaborative effort across multiple teams within the University of Alberta, NAIT and NorQuest College to innovatively design and leverage cloud technologies to improve and enhance the Moodle Learning Management System platform used by over 50,000 students across the three institutions. The multi-tiered project was a success as a result of the innovation and collaboration across all of the teams. The University of Alberta, NAIT and NorQuest, as well as their students, are the benefactors of a greatly improved infrastructure and environment that was deployed by the collective team.
For more information please contact Rick Fix at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Learning Technology Environment (LTE) Renewal Project - University of British Columbia
The Learning Technology Environment (LTE) Renewal Project's goal was to deliver a learning technology ecosystem that empowers students and faculty to achieve their learning and teaching goals by providing dynamic, pedagogically sound, convenient, and user-friendly tools.  Faculty and student-led peer engagement and consultation were critical to the success of the LTE project.  Using a very different selection process than in the past professional staff helped support faculty in the pilots, evaluated security and integration requirements, and several participated on the RFP evaluation committee, along with faculty and student representatives and learned that they can never go back -- faculty members' and students' direct and meaningful involvement in technology selection is critical to a project's success.
For more information please contact Marianne Schroeder at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

CUCCIO Community Award

The CUCCIO Community Award recognizes an individual, group or institution whose efforts exemplify CUCCIO’s desire to build, support and enrich the higher education IT community. Unlike the innovation and collaboration awards, this award will honour a member institution, individual or group who has demonstrated a passion for CUCCIO’s principles of information-sharing, collaboration and knowledge creation throughout the CUCCIO community.
Community.jpgThe recipient of the 2019 CUCCIO Community Award, Gayleen Gray, CTO and AVP IT at McMaster University exemplifies this same commitment to our community.  She has been active in CUCCIO almost since its inception - first as a deputy CIO and now as a CTO and AVP of IT in her own right.   She never shies away from sharing her knowledge and experiences – both good and bad.  And she is always ready to help a colleague in whatever way she can most recently by helping to refine and launch CUCCIO’s leadership development program.  She plays a mentorship role with a number of members in our community and with her participation in the leadership development program has taken a whole new group of future leaders under her wing.