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Greetings everyone, including all previous helpers and instructors not on the informatics-teaching-L list,

(TLDR: please start at the ===> below)

The time has come to move the management of the Carpentries workshops conducted at UF from the benevolent dictator model to the democratic republic model. We have the following issues that need to be addressed and these are best done by a formal organization, not an individual person:

1) People have begun to request that workshops be held at specific times and places in conjunction with their interests. I think this is a great reflection of our success but it raises the issue of who measures[1] and allocates our finite resources. We need a collaborative process for setting our workshop calendar.

2) Other initiatives on campus would like to coordinate work with us to provide a full suite of opportunities for people to learn informatics of various kinds. We need representation to these groups (next meeting is Tuesday the 14th at 12:30).

3) Our sponsors (UFII, UFBI, White) would like to set some goals for what we deliver, specifically numbers of workshops per semester. This is certainly fair as their investment is significant (effectively ~$20k/yr). This is also an opportunity for us to produce more metrics to demonstrate our success for our current supporters to use for them to demonstrate their value to their supporters. We need to accept these goals as a group.

4) We have the opportunity to request more support and to allocate funds to our benefit. We are now charging enough per workshop to accumulate money and the current plan is to award that money in the form of travel grants to our instructors. Such a grant program is also a way for new supporters to give us funds in excess of our workshop expenses. Dealing with money and awarding grants should never be done by one person.

5) Long-term sustainability of our group hinges on our ability to continue training instructors and this training is provided by being a member in the Carpentries organization. That costs $15k/yr and while our current supporters are happy, we need to spread the load to other organizations at UF. We need to be able to negotiate with other entities to get additional funding for our membership on an on-going basis.

There are roles here for everyone at every level of expertise and time availability: instructor, workshop organizer, liaison to your department, secretary, treasurer, representative to UF administration, representative to the Carpentries advisory board, etc.


===> I propose that our initial structure be an informal board of 5 or 7 previous instructors that meet weekly this semester (basically 4 meetings, skipping Thanksgiving week). The purpose of this board will be to decide the permanent structure and assign responsibilities to positions, pick an election format, and set the workshop schedule for the spring 2018 semester. It is likely we won't need 4 meetings to do this and it is likely that you can participate by reading meeting minutes and emailing your contributions.

I further propose that this board be formed first come, first serve, to reflect individuals' enthusiasm. I hope an email Monday morning is a fair way to open an opportunity like that.

If you would like to be on the founding UF Carpentries board, please email me on or off list. I will coordinate names and meeting times. Board meetings will be open if you would merely like to attend.

Thank you everyone for all the support and wonderful work you've provided to bring us to this next phase.


[1] Thank you Brian for suggesting that we assess our volunteers' capacity to participate.

Matthew Collins
Technical Operations Manager
Advanced Computing and Information Systems Lab, ECE
University of Florida
352-392-5414