Computer purchases are handled centrally by staff within the Computer Technology Support (CTS) shared services area of UWM. These staff members work closely with UWM approved vendors on pricing for UWM and with Purchasing to ensure all purchases fall under UW-System/UWM approved contracts, purchasing policies, and procedures. The following information is specific to departments within Student Affairs and provides recommended configurations that provide hardware that will last for 5 years.

This policy sets forth the Division of Student Affairs’ policy regarding the replacement of the primary computer asset for staff.

The purpose of this policy is to establish a computer replacement cycle that will:

  • Provide appropriate computing resources to departments in support of the mission of the institution
  • Assure that staff have a computer of sufficient capability to fulfill their responsibilities
  • Implement minimum standards for computing equipment in Student Affairs so equipment can support current software updates and operating systems
  • Encourage planning, cost-effective installation of new equipment and disposal of old equipment
  • Maximize cost savings by purchasing computers in bulk when available
  • Manage the cost to support technology.  Older computers cost more to support

This policy applies to all primary computer assets purchased with university funds, within Student Affairs, and managed by Computer Technology Support (CTS) staff.


  • Primary Computer Asset: The asset designated as the primary computer/laptop assigned to an individual.
  • Replacement lifecycle: The life of a computer asset from purchase through replacement.
  • Dual monitor support: While every desktop we purchase is capable of driving two displays, monitors used in this configuration should always be purchased in pairs. Adding a second new monitor to an older, existing display will result in mismatched color, brightness and/or increased eye strain.
  • Direct replacement: It’s common practice to replace a desktop with a desktop, laptop with a laptop, etc. If a user has a laptop that is always connected to a docking station, they may be better served with a desktop. A user who only needs their laptop for attending meetings may be better served with a tablet, etc. Please reach out to Student Affairs IT Services to request a technology needs consultation before the purchase is made.

Hardware Platforms
In order to contain costs, realize maintenance, and support efficiencies the UWM community is provided with a list of approved computer systems from Dell and Apple.  The hardware standards are developed by an ad hoc committee composed of IT professionals from academic and administrative units.  The committee is charged with reviewing computer hardware options available to UWM and recommending hardware configurations that meet the features and functionality required by the University and fit into a 5-year replacement cycle.  Approved standards become part of various campus websites used to acquire computer hardware.

Replacement Terms

  • Computers are replaced every five years, a duration that corresponds to industry benchmarks for the useful life of a computer, laptop and desktop, per the world’s leading technology research and advisory company, Gartner.
  • Computers are purchased once a year (spring), centrally through Student Affairs IT Services and distributed to departments over the summer (June-early August).  
  • Exceptions to the above include new positions with no available computer, job duty changes requiring different hardware, etc.
  • Departments will budget for the ongoing replacement of computers within the replacement plan.  
  • One primary, university-owned, computer per individual will be part of the replacement plan unless the department head approves multiple devices for a particular individual.
  • Generally brand new positions will get a new computer, including mouse, keyboard and monitor(s).  Laptops might include a docking station, if needed.
  • Generally new staff replacing current staff inherit the computer of the former staff they are replacing.
  • Replacement computers include only the computer, mouse and keyboard.  Laptops include only the laptop.
  • Monitors and other peripherals are not part of the 5-year replacement cycle and need to be purchased by the department when needed in consultation with Student Affairs IT Services.
  • All IT Services managed computers are maintained in a central inventory. At the time a computer enters the inventory the replacement cycle is designated. 
  • Replaced equipment is either cleaned of all information for recycling or used for parts and taken out of inventory.

Special requests
Any special hardware requests are best accompanied by a brief description of how the workstation is being used. For example, a computer running AutoCAD may be better served by adding a video card rather than adding more RAM. These descriptions help us find the right mix of technology to fit your needs

Grant-Funded Equipment
Individuals pursuing grants for computing equipment should discuss their plans with SAITS as part of the budgeting process. Equipment acquired under grants will enter the inventory and be upgraded on a regular replacement cycle only if part of the application for the grant.

Request for Exceptions to the Replacement Process
In some situations, users may be required to run special software or perform unique tasks as part of their assigned job duties, and may need a computer with more memory, a faster processor, a larger hard disk, etc. Departments may request that their workstation be evaluated to determine an appropriate upgrade path. SAITS may recommend additional memory, a larger hard drive, or possibly a newer workstation. The user’s department will pay for system upgrades or a newer system.

Please contact the Director of IT Services to request an exception to the standard replacement plan.

Original Issuance Date: September 7, 2016
Last Revision Date: April 7, 2022

Recommended Computer Configurations

The computers recommended here are for the majority of staff within Student Affairs or Enrollment Management and should provide staff with 5 years of service, per our 5 year replacement policy, and are under contract. You will find recommendations for both Windows (Dell) and Apple desktops and laptops. Technology staff within Student Affairs/Enrollment Management IT are happy to talk with you further before you make a purchase or for staff whose work would require a different computer configuration.

Dell Desktop

  • Current desktop model, small form factor, and a configuration with 16GB RAM.

Dell Laptop

  • One of the available laptop models, with a 16GB RAM configuration.

Additional Items

  • Monitors (Desktop and Laptop) There are several options to choose from on the technology purchasing page. It is common now to purchase two monitors for each computer. Monitors degrade over time so purchasing new monitors every 5 years is not a bad idea.
  • Camera (Desktop Only) – Something like the Logitech C920e Business Webcam from ShopUW+. Desktops do not come with cameras so purchase as needed.
  • Dock (Laptop Only) – It is recommended that all laptops have a dock to connect to while working at a desk. There are a couple of docks available on the technology purchasing page. Look closely at the monitors being purchased and choose the appropriate dock.
  • Keyboard/Mouse (Laptop Only) – It is recommended that a keyboard and mouse be purchases, along with a dock, to create a desktop computer experience while at your desk. These items can be purchased through the UWM Tech Store or via ShopUW+.

Apple Desktop

  • Current iMac model with 16 GB RAM, choose your color and any optional upgrades.

Apple MacBook

  • Current MacBook Air with 16 GB RAM, 4 year AppleCare, choose your color.

Additional Items

  • Monitors (Apple MacBook Only) – There are several options to choose from on the technology purchasing page. It is common now to purchase two monitors for each computer. Monitors degrade over time so purchasing new monitors every 5 years is not a bad idea.
  • Dock (Apple MacBook Only) – It is recommended you purchase a dock to create a desktop computer experience while at your desk. Talk to your IT staff or a purchasing consultant for help with a dock that will work with the current MacBook.

Information coming from Print & Copy Services

Commodity vs. Project Purchases

All IT purchases fall into one of two categories: commodity or project.

Commodity Purchase
To make a commodity purchase, you may do so with your department’s approval through the following methods:



  • Purchase Request Form: Purchase laptops, desktops, tablets, monitors, etc.
  • ShopUW+: The UW System portal for initiating procurement transactions. Departments should use this to purchase hardware peripherals and other computer hardware not available through the purchasing request form.

Project Purchases
Software and hardware not available via one of the methods listed above is considered a project purchase and needs to be reviewed by Purchasing, UWM Security, perhaps Legal, and others before the purchase can be approved.

  1. Fill out the Purchase Request Form and choose the Other, or ask a question option under the I would like to purchase… section. Fill in enough information clearly explaining what you wish to purchase and why.
  2. The request is sent to a team from purchasing, information security and IT specialists. These specialists will review the request from a variety of angles and either approve, deny or request more information for the procurement.


  • If you have questions, please review the IT Purchasing FAQ before submitting the form.
  • Even if the hardware/software is free, if it falls into the project purchase category, you must follow the above process.
  • Don’t wait! Even if you don’t have all the details but know you want to make a purchase, fill out the Purchase Request Form. The duration of the purchasing process depends on the complexity of the item being purchased, the response time of the vendor, and is subject to the rules and timelines of the UWM Purchasing Office. Even simple requests can take weeks to finalize and complex requests that involve multiple campus areas can take up to months to complete.