Computer Lifecycle | Policies

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Computer Lifecycle

Provides guidance for loan, maintenance, and disposal of computer hardware.

Owner: Information Technology


The purpose of this policy is to outline the process by which Teachers College, Columbia University (the “College”) acquires, replaces, and disposes of computer hardware equipment as well as the purchasing of desktop computers and laptops for faculty and staff.



This policy applies to all students, staff, faculty members, officers, employees, and affiliates of Teachers College, Columbia University, including extended learning sites, guests, tenants, visitors, contractors, consultants, vendors, individuals authorized by affiliated institutions and organizations, and all others granted use of and/or access to Teachers College, Columbia University technology resources and data.



All computer equipment purchases must be requested through the Service Desk via the portal Service Desk system before any purchases are made to ensure that all procedures and standards are consistent with the policies of Teachers College. Teachers College has standardized computer configurations with both Dell and Apple.

Standard Computer Configurations:

A standard configuration is established by TCIT on an annual basis, or more frequently if needed. Any upgrades to the hardware configuration beyond the scope of the standard configuration will be charged to the requesting department’s identified funding source.

  • Full-time faculty may choose either a Dell or Apple laptop or desktop based on the established standard configuration.
  • Full-time staff will receive a Dell desktop unless justification can be provided and approved by the respective Department Head. Any upgrades to the hardware configuration beyond the scope of the standard configuration will be charged to another funding source identified by the department (for example departmental operating, grant, or seed funds).
  • Any personnel replacing an existing position will inherit the computer used by the previous incumbent, unless a new computer is purchased from another source or the previous computer has exceeded its useful life.  All inherited computers should be reimaged by the Service Desk prior to passing to new personnel.

Standard Device Package:

  • Standard desktop configurations for both PCs and Macs will include a CPU, monitor, keyboard, and mouse.
  • Standard laptop configurations for both PCs and Macs will only include only the laptop.
    • External monitors may be supplied depending on stock availability. 
    • ADA provisions will be accommodated.
  • Optional: Carrying cases, docking stations, and monitors, scanners, recording devices, external hard drives and specialized software may be purchased through department identified funding sources at College negotiated prices through College approved suppliers.

Submitting Request and Placing Order

All computer equipment purchases outside the standard configuration listed in Unimarket must be requested through the Service Desk via the service portal before any purchases are made. After the request is verified and certified by TCIT, and a quote is generated, the requestor can then begin to create a requisition through Unimarket. Purchasing and TCIT will support the requestor through this process.

Please note: When requesting a computer that doesn’t have Teachers College standard configuration, the requestor will have to provide additional justification/reasons for the requested configuration.

Receiving and accepting the order:

As is current College policy all computer equipment and any additional peripheral device need to be delivered to Shipping and Receiving at:

502 West 121st Street

Russell Hall Basement

New York, NY  10027-6696

Shipping and Receiving will tag Computers and other Peripheral Devices and enter them in the College’s asset management database.  The device will then be delivered to the Service Desk to install the standard software.

During the receiving process, the TCIT Service Desk will make sure that:

  • The products conform to the purchase order requirements and other relevant documents (quote).
  • There is no damage or breakage.
  • Delivery documentation (packing list, certifications, etc.) is acceptable.
  • Minimum standard configuration is applied to the device.

Tagging Fixed Assets

Shipping and Receiving will receive confirmation from the TCIT Service Desk that the order conforms to the purchase order requirements and other relevant documents.  Shipping and Receiving will ensure asset tags are affixed to the equipment in accordance with the College’s policy governing fixed assets.

Please note: all Computers and Peripheral Devices regardless of funding source, (College operating, Grant, or Gift funds) will be tagged, per the College’s policy governing fixed assets and will become Teachers College property to ensure the timely replacement of outdated equipment and proper maintenance by the TC Service Desk.

Computer Replacement Cycle:

Full-time faculty and staff positions will be assigned one primary computer as required by job function. The computer assigned to a user as their primary system will be the machine covered under the Computer Replacement Cycle. Those users with non-primary computers may either be upgraded out of the TCIT computer redistribution pool if available or by departmental funds.

The general guidelines for replacement of primary systems are:

  • Full-time faculty and staff: Five years from the date of purchase unless the machine can no longer be supported by the Service Desk due to security concerns, warranty expiration, or platforms can no longer be supported.
  • Classrooms and computer labs: four years from the date of computer assignment.
  • Academic specialized-use labs that are department or grant funded may be upgraded out of the computer redistribution pool if available.
  • Computers needed for part-time faculty/staff, student worker positions, temporary positions, and machines needed for projects or other temporary uses will be furnished out of the TCIT redistribution pool of computers subject to availability.
  • Computers that are part of the TCIT Computer Replacement Cycle will be replaced with a new standard computer, which will be paid for by TCIT.
  • TCIT will also cover the costs of a new standard machine requested for a newly created position.

Disposal of Computers and Peripherals:

Computers and computer parts that can no longer be supported by the Service Desk or are no longer supported by the manufacturer must be discarded. These machines are a security risk to the College.  TCIT will work with users to save the data, provide an upgraded machine and wipe the data off the PC or Mac. The machine will be disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner. The following procedure should be followed:

  1. TC user calls TCIT Service Desk to report a computer that needs to be replaced or disposed of, or Service Desk determines the computer needs to be replaced.
  2. TCIT Service Desk staff member will arrange a visit to the office.
    1. Service Desk staff member physically removes the internal hard drive from the CPU.
    2. Mice and keyboards can be trashed or recycled depending on wear, but do NOT need special arrangements for pickup.
  3. TCIT Service Desk staff will pick up the computer, remove the hard drive, and lock it in the storage room.  Unless a legal hold has been put on a hard-drive, the drive may be wiped prior to disposal or reuse after 3 months. Hard drives that have a legal hold placed on them are stored in a locked cabinet, within a secure room.
  4. Once a large number of machines are available for removal, Purchasing will contact the disposal company for removal.


Responsible Office: Teachers College Information Technology

Effective Date: February 1, 2021

Last Updated: January 15, 2021

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