Readiness Disclosure

Year 2000-Much Accomplished, Much Remaining

by Michael Kearney


Thursday, September 23, 1999 will leave us with 100 days remaining before the arrival of the Year 2000. I can assure you that those of us who have been wrestling with this problem in recent years are looking forward with eager anticipation to the time when we can wrap up the major tasks of this project and take up the challenges the next century has to offer. However, we're not quite ready to call it a millennium--there's work remaining to be done.

Although we've been at it for years, this still isn't terribly long relative to the lifetime of the problem. We find its precursors in nineteenth century government forms where the year is preprinted with a leading "18" placed there, logically, to reduce the labor and risk of error inherent in repeatedly re-entering it. We might call this a "Year 1900" problem--solved then, presumably, with manual workarounds using pen and ink or by replacing the old forms altogether.

For the last several years, the University has been engaged in a project to perform the twentieth century equivalent of "replacing the forms." It has proven to be a complex and challenging undertaking, belying the conventional notion that all the effects of the Year 2000 problem (failures of computer systems to perform as expected from the use of a two-digit representation of the year) will be felt on or about January 1, 2000--a single giant hurdle to be cleared. The real situation is more complex and, in some ways, more

reassuring than that implied by the single hurdle metaphor. We have, in fact, already cleared dozens of hurdles to bring us where we are now. Among them: modifications of student systems in 1995 to handle the Class of 2000; development and upgrade of our financial systems including FinMIS and Payroll; organization of a University-wide Y2K project in 1997; successful operation through critical 1999 dates such as the beginning the University Fiscal Year 2000 in July; replacement and upgrade of hundreds of systems in Schools and Centers; successful integrated system tests of desktops, networks, and servers running with clocks set ahead to 2000; upgrades to PennNet; and assessment and upgrade of control systems in University facilities.

Most of the University's mission-critical Year 2000 work is now complete, but we cannot be complacent. We must continue to plan for and clear the hurdles--seen and unforeseen--that lie ahead:

  • Replace or upgrade non-compliant systems performing important (if not mission-critical) functions-it's still not too late to do it, at least for relatively simple system replacements.
  • Continue to monitor software for date-related (and other) defects and upgrade when necessary, especially in mission critical areas-vendors will continue to discover and provide fixes for defects for the remainder of 1999 and beyond.
  • Prepare contingency plans. It is unlikely that we and our suppliers will be completely successful in correcting all Year 2000 problems that might affect us. It is highly likely that some organizations will experience localized problems of short duration. We must be prepared to minimize the effects of such failures.
  • Watch for and pay attention to the recommendations made by your school, center, and service providers, especially for specific actions to take (or avoid) in preparation for the New Year's holiday weekend.

If you have questions, please contact the Year 2000 coordinator for your school or center listed in the table at left. You may also refer to the University's Year 2000 Web site at www.upenn. edu/computing/year2000 or send e-mail to


Dr. Kearney is the University's Year 2000 Project Coordinator.

Year 2000 Working Group Representatives





Acquisition Services Ralph Maier 215-898-1452
Admissions Gene Haldeman 215-898-3504
Annenberg Center Cathy Borowyk 215-898-5278
Athletics & Recreation Alec Plotkin 215-898-9192
Audit & Compliance Mary Lee Brown 215-898-7958
Bruce Ferguson 215-662-6332
Budget Dan Dougherty 215-898-1337
Business Services Mark Zohar 215-898-5227
Ctr. for Tech Transfer David Jiang 215-573-4503
Development Jim Hall 215-898-3644
Env. Health & Rad. Safety Andrew Ulane 215-898-4453
Exec Vice President Jeff Linso 215-898-4468
Facilities Juan Suarez 215-898-2457
General Counsel Dan Dougherty 215-898-1337
Government Relations Dan Dougherty 215-898-1337
Health System (link no longer available)
ISC Ron Cohen 215-898-6003
Mary Ledwith 215-898-4624
Don Montabana 215-898-7205
Tom Unger 215-898-4395
Michael Kearney 215-898-1153
Robin Beck 215-898-3028
ICA Kristin Nelson 215-898-1785
Libraries Grover McKenzie 215-898-4824
Museum Philip Chase 215-898-2624
President Dan Dougherty 215-898-1337
Provost Dan Dougherty 215-898-1337
Public Safety Stratis Skoufalos 215-898-6269
ULAR Lee Shepski 215-573-7301
Nancy Miller 215-898-9712
University Relations Dan Dougherty 215-898-1337
VP Finance Jeff Linso 215-898-4468
VP Human Resources Gary Truhlar 215-898-5896
VP Research Dan Dougherty 215-898-1337
VPUL Ron Sanders 215-898-1564
Annenberg School Kyle Cassidy 215-898-0774
Dental Dan Shapiro 215-898-5343
SEAS Helen Anderson 215-898-2899
Ira Winston 215-898-4434
Grad Ed John Irwin 215-898-2514
Grad Fine Arts Patrick Hagerty 215-898-3160
Law Denise Angelini Kosman 215-898-2613
Medicine (link no longer available)
Nursing Phil Lavene 215-898-5981
SAS John Yates 215-898-3568
Ira Winston 215-898-4434
Social Work Albert Louie 215-898-7405
Vet Joshua Beeman 215-573-6798
Wharton Deirdre Woods 215-898-1117

| BACK to TOP |

Almanac, Vol. 46, No. 4, September 21, 1999