Information Technology Services

Drop Shadow

May 17, 2006

Inaugural Meeting of the Information Resources Council
May 17, 2006

The meeting opened with an introductory statement by Chris Wessells. He stated that the purpose of the IRC is to foster a dynamic exchange among faculty, students and staff regarding information technology at USD. Chris then called for an overview of current IT projects, to be given by the directors of the various IT subunits, as follows.

Doug Burke, Network & System Operations
Doug mentioned our recent network DOS (denial of service) attack, which affected the firewall, and a network outage last night with Cox, the fourth in the past several months. A letter is being sent to Cox regarding this inadequate service.

Doug also catalogued a number of upcoming NETS projects, including increasing network security, network upgrades, assuring ubiquitous wireless access and videoconferencing repairs and upgrades. All USD servers will be placed in the DMZ

Rick Seaman, Administrative Information Services (AIS)
Rick kindly agreed to attend the meeting in the absence of Rich Pickett, to speak about Administrative Information Services’ upcoming projects. A looming project is the replacement of the OSS system with the SunGard SCT Banner software. AIS is currently making excellent progress on a web-based student enrollment system which will replace the current telephone enrollment system. A prototype has already been developed.

AIS will be focusing on 4 modules of the Banner system: Admissions, Registration, Financial Aid, and Student Financial Services. USD has many special programs (e.g., Paralegal, MSGL/MSEL, Study Abroad), all of which will need special rules established to govern their handling. Will Housing retain the StarRes system which we already own or migrate to the Banner system? What will be the reporting requirements of various departments? The next several months will be a “getting to know Banner” period.

Admissions would like to be up and running for September 2007, Financial Aid in January 2008, Undergrad Registration in April 2008 and Student Accounts in May 2008. The issues of creating an online FERPA form and replacing the e-timecards were also raised.

Chris mentioned the excellence of the Luminis product, an open-source application based on uPortal, which also provides an imaging piece.

Rosy Vacchi, Desktop Support Services
DSS has been working on the computer replacement program, currently in the process of negotiating a new lease with Dell. DSS has also adopted new computer standards since Apple has released the new MacBook.

Preparation for Move-in Weekend has begun and a new contract with Adobe has been signed, providing significant cost savings to USD. DSS is also negotiating with Aztec Business Systems for the purchase of some Toshiba multifunction systems. In addition, they would like to establish an online service catalog for the campus community and increase full-time support at the Help Desk.

Chris emphasized the need for fulltime staff at the Help Desk. Rosy stated that they’re considering a new phone tree system. They’re also addressing increased Linux support and a change management system to warn the USD community of upcoming outages, etc.
Rosy closed by encouraging users to provide feedback to the Help Desk.

Jack Pope, Academic Computing Services
Jack listed some of the experimental teaching projects on campus. Jim Perry is instituting use of a clicker technology in some of his classes in the fall. The MSGL program is implementing Apreso, which allows a user to export screen captures and external video to a flashserver and Web CT. He also discussed a student technical assistance program, which would allow a technologically skilled student to assist a faculty member on a semester-long project to develop rich content for their courses.

Chris suggested the development of a one-page grant application toward this end. He also mentioned the need for a web development group on campus.

Ani Velo expressed the need for department website assistance. Jerry Ammer mentioned the issue that sometimes when talented student assistants graduate, their legacy work becomes a mystery to successors.

Jack continued with the issue of classroom support. As the number of “smart” classrooms continues to rise, one technician cannot provide support for all of them. He also spoke about reliable wireless service in Serra Hall. A new printing mechanism is being instituted in the computer labs. Rosy reminded everyone that Serra 172 is now out of service and Serra 154 will be down all summer due to renovation.

Chris spoke briefly about the need for a campus-wide calendaring system. Luminis has a built-in calendar, which we may use, and Doug is researching the possibilities of Microsoft Exchange Server. We would also like to explore providing a video server for faculty use and expansion of existing or new shared clusters.

Chris also mentioned CENIC, which has been instrumental in getting optical networks to many schools in the Cal State and UC systems. This would provide us an avenue to Internet2 at a significant discount. An in-library laptop checkout program is also being considered.

There is a need to formalize service-level agreements for setup servers on campus, so that people do not have unrealistic expectations of support.

Jim Perry questioned whether his class Oracle server would become unavailable with increased security and Doug Burke replied that all faculty would be getting VPN accounts. The question of how to handle guest accounts and logins was also raised. Jim said that a software acquisitions & installations subcommittee might be of use.

Ani Velo voiced the general dissatisfaction with the Horde email system and many others agreed. Chris said that Luminis has an email component, which we may consider using. We probably need a new email system but an exchange server would represent a huge cost.

Owen Smith endorsed the single sign-on system and queried the availability of alumni email accounts. Doug stated that in most institutions, once you leave, no more email accounts. Our alumni association has an email forwarding system.

John Yin suggested using a public FTP server for transferring large files. Doug said he’d be happy to support one, given enough resources and staffing.

Chris provided closing statements, including the fact that some of his previous priorities had been shifted due to the group’s discussions, particularly the need for a new email system.

Minutes provided by Mary Kowit
5/18/06