Board of Governors goes paperless

When members of the U of S Board of Governors meet Dec. 14, gone will be their traditional agendas which can run into the hundreds of pages each. Instead, board members will come equipped with iPads.

By Colleen MacPherson

University Secretary Lea Pennock said everyone on the board is in favour of going paperless, a change that is happening at other universities as well. Pennock said she looked in particular at Simon Fraser University which estimated its printing and courier costs per board member per meeting are $124 "That's in the ballpark for us as well. We estimate the switch to iPads will pay for itself within five or six meetings," said Pennock.

But going paperless has required some preparation. Board members were given a training session in June to familiarize them with iPads, the university's file sharing service and the program GoodReader which allows for highlighting and notation on electronic documents.

One consideration is security of the confidential documents in board agendas, Pennock said. "We've asked board members to set up passwords on the iPad and on both the GoodReader and file sharing programs. Someone could leave their iPad in an airport lounge but you'd have to get past three passwords to view the documents so it's maybe even more secure than walking around with a binder labelled
U of S Board of Governors."

Pennock said it will take time to become comfortable with electronic documents. "Some things are a big clunky right now but it will get easier. It's about continuous improvement."