Computer Replacement Policy

Download a PDF version of the Computer Replacement Policy (PDF).


The purpose is to establish policy regarding university computers. The goals of the policy are to:

  1. Establish guidelines for the equitable and appropriate provision of university computers and ensure that university-owned computers are refreshed using a consistent life cycle that will provide reliability and well-performing devices for offices, laboratories and classrooms.
  2. Mitigate institutional risk by ensuring proper security measures are taken when replaced machines are retained for stock, repurposed internally, donated or recycled as waste. Proper attention will be given to data stored on internal hard drives and to resident software that is licensed by the university under specific agreement of use.
  3. Serve the mission of the university with good stewardship of resources and commitment to community outreach and service.
  4. Establish an institutional funding model that will ensure these goals are met.

To Whom Does This Policy Apply?

This policy applies to all full- and part-time University employees and to the purchase of all laptop and desktop computers and tablet/mobile computing devices, regardless of how the equipment is funded. In the context of this policy, a "computer" is defined as a complete working computer packaged system. A packaged system may be a laptop with separate monitor, keyboard and mouse, a desktop all-in-one device with keyboard and mouse or a desktop packaged with an accompanying monitor, keyboard and mouse. A computer package in the context of this policy does not include e-book readers, printers, other peripherals, external memory, external disk drives, additional monitors purchased beyond a "packaged system" or software. A computer as defined by this policy may also be a computing "thin" client or light weight computer, designed to remotely connect to a university server or cloud computing environment.

Provisioning Computers

The University will provide one computer for work purposes to each full-time faculty and full-time administrators and staff who need computing capability. Computers are also installed in public and academic computer laboratories, academic classrooms, conference rooms and other academic or administrative shared workspaces. The university may provide computers to part-time faculty offices or shared workspaces, part-time administrators or staff and for student worker positions with a defined need for computing capability that is unavailable from other co-located or shared machines. Repurposed computers available from inventory stock may be used, if available.

Full-time faculty and administrators may choose from Windows or Macintosh platforms and desktop or laptop models. A tablet or tablet-like device may be substituted for a traditional computer selection. Staff will be issued a standard Windows desktop unless otherwise requested by a dean, director or divisional vice president.

The University will also provide additional computers (e.g. a second device to employees or computers for specialized needs) if approved by the divisional vice president, academic dean, or director/budget manager.

The Information Technology Support Services (TSS) department will maintain a centralized inventory system of all university computers and will centrally manage institutional purchases for computers and the timely replacement and retirement of the same. Requests for new computer purchases should be submitted to the Director of TSS.

The benefits of centralized management of University computing equipment includes but is not limited to:

  • Ensuring faculty, staff and administrators have well-performing dedicated computing power to
    accomplish their responsibilities;
  • Ensuring academic classrooms and laboratories have well-performing computing power serving
    curricular requirements;
  • Consolidating computer purchases into large orders with preferred vendors to reduce costs;
  • Standardizing on a select number of computer models to reduce costs associated with provisioning
    and supporting all university computers and
  • Centralizing recordkeeping to better facilitate the provisioning, replacement and retirement processes associated with University computers.

TSS negotiates special purchasing contracts with select vendors and service providers that often includes access to warranty and other services that assist IT staff in fixing problems.

Computer purchases will be made with the University's preferred supplier(s) and conform to a set of standard models that will be updated and published annually. The following exceptions apply:

  • Faculty whose teaching and research responsibilities require an alternative to the standard configuration (must be approved by an academic dean);
  • Administrators and staff whose specific technical, environmental or functional job responsibilities require an alternative to the standard configuration (must be approved by the divisional vice president or director/budget manager).

Computers purchased with University funds, including grant-funded purchases, remain the property of the university until officially retired from inventory and donated or disposed of according to University policy.

Replacing Computers

Generally, all university computers will be replaced every four years. If any computer has a catastrophic failure within the four-year cycle, it will be replaced early without charge. In some cases, an academic computer laboratory may be replaced every three years if the nature of the academic program requires more recent computer models (e.g. computer animation laboratory). In some cases, a computer or group of computers may be delayed for replacement for up to six years. This is the exception, however, not the rule. Thin clients (lightweight computers), generally, will be replaced every six years.

A faculty member or administrative employee eligible for a computer replacement may change their selection of platform at that time (e.g. Windows v. Macintosh, desktop v. laptop).

When a new computer is delivered, the old computer will be returned to the Information Resources Division (IRD). The IRD will ensure that appropriate security measures are taken with respect to data that has been left on an internal hard drive.

Retiring Aged Computers

Computers of an age less than six years will be recycled in consideration of further use for a period not to exceed a device age of six years on university premises. Computer equipment that is replaced with new equipment must be returned to Technical Support Services for processing, without exception. Hard drives will be processed using current Department of Defense data drive standards. According to the following order of priority, computers will be:

  1. Returned to general stock for re-purposed future use by the university;
  2. Donated to a non-profit organization in collaboration with the Ettling Center for Civic Leadership and in keeping with the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) mission of service or
  3. Responsibly recycled as waste.

Computers of age six years or more are deemed not suitable for continued use and therefore, will only be recycled as waste.

Old computers must be returned to TSS for processing. Faculty retiring with emeriti status are permitted to take personal ownership of their office computer and thus, retain possession of the device and should contact the Comptroller's Office to transfer ownership.

Funding University Computers

University computers will be purchased and replaced from a centralized institutional budget. Departmental budgets will be charged back on a quarterly basis over the replacement life of the device. An annual total charge-back amount for a department may be calculated as the total number of departmental computers x [a set $value that is calculated as the average cost of a computer package + a support cost] divided by the number of years in the replacement cycle. All University departmental budgets will be charged-back using the same [$ set value].


The University has determined an average computer workstation package value with a small additional support cost to be $2,000. The average thin client package value is $1,000.

Example 1: Department A has 100 provisioned computers.

All the computers are on a 4-year replacement cycle.
The annual charge-back can be calculated as:
Total annual departmental charge-back = 100 x $2,000 / 4 = $50,000
Quarterly departmental charge-back = $50,000 / 4 = $12,500

Example 2: Academic School B has 210 provisioned computers.

(70) computers assigned to faculty and staff are on a 4-year replacement cycle.
(70) computers in specialized computing labs are on a 3-year replacement cycle.
(70) thin clients in academic computing labs are on a 6-year replacement cycle.

The annual charge-back can be calculated as:

70 x $2,000 / 4 = $ 35,000
70 x $2,000 / 3 = $ 46,667
70 x $1,000 / 6 = $ 11,667

Total annual charge-back = $ 93,334
Quarterly charge-back = $ 23,334

Grant- or Contract-Funded Purchases

Computers acquired using grant or contract funds will be purchased using the same guidelines and vendors as other University computers, unless there is cause for an exception as outlined in the Provisioning Computers section above. For ongoing grants or contracts, departments should plan on replacing equipment on a regular basis, usually in three or four years, as well as budgeting for parts and repairs. No institutional charge-backs will apply to grant or contract funded equipment; although it is important to note, supporting grant or contract funded equipment does impact university resources.

Once grant or contract funds are no longer available to replace equipment at the appropriate time (generally, four years), institutional funds will be used if it is determined that the equipment needs to be sustained for the university. At the time that institutional funds are expended to replace equipment that was originally grant-funded, departmental charge-backs will apply and the charge-back process will begin according to the policy outlined in this document.

Departmental Purchases for Other Technology

Departments purchasing other technology items such as personal iPad devices or the like, should still send requests through the Technical Support Services department to ensure that the University will benefit from vendor and service provider contracts and that TSS personnel are able to provide the expected support.