Listed below are the accomplishments of University Computing, grouped by the IT goals set forth in the 2005/2006 annual report.
- IT Goal - Manage within University Computing budgets, always looking for ways to decrease costs and seek out efficiencies
Balanced OE budgets despite increases in printer and network supplies, maintenance contracts, software inventory, and a drop in pricing for some technology that no longer qualify the items to be purchased with equipment funds. OE budgets did not increase.
Bundled the purchasing of Westside Campus Center network equipment with the order of wireless access points for Westside Classroom Building to maximize savings via the bulk discount offered. Worked with the System Office on competitive RFPs for mass purchasing of PCs and Macs in order to obtain the maximum discount.
Contributed to University savings by keeping three FT positions open for FY07, and one other FT position open for six months.
Serviced and maintained University printers onsite by maintaining service parts in stock. This decreased costs incurred by using third party repair vendors.
Enhanced Revenue Collection
The State's Revenue Intercept program was implemented in August 2006. Anyone paying state income tax in Connecticut is subject to garnishment of their state income tax refund if they owe money to any participating state agency. By collaborating with Finance, WestConn has benefited by receiving tens of thousands of dollars collected thus far for being a participant in this program.
Began using VMware to virtualize servers. Virtualization allows more than one server to run on a single hardware platform to increase efficiency and reduce server costs.
- IT Goal - Strive to deliver better customer service to students, faculty, and staff
Enhancements to Student Computer Facilities
The Student Technology Training Center (STTC) was newly furnished, and has been upgraded with an additional six workstations for student use, bringing the total number of available student workstations to 18. Additional scanners and software were added as well. The Midtown Computer Center (MTCC) and Westside Computer Center (WSCC) have both established a series of ‘Print-Only’ workstations for those students who need to print their work, and only require five minutes of computer access. This implementation has proved to be a huge success with students.
Student Computer Facility Availability
The Midtown and Westside Computer Centers were available to students for a combined average of 140 hours per week during the fall and spring semesters, providing general and individualized assistance. The Student Technology Training Center was available 60 hours per week for student use. To satisfy increased demand, University Computing employed an average of 30 students with a payroll of approximately 700 hours per week during the fall and spring semesters.
Changed the process for prospective students to get their WestConnduit accounts and PINs. Giving prospective students this information when they pay their admissions deposit empowers them to look up their test scores, immunization status, financial aid and housing status, and missing documents in a faster and more efficient web format.
Alumni Newsletter E-mail
Funded and assisted the Office of Alumni Relations in sending out monthly electronic newsletters to alumni via e-mail using the IntelliContact bulk e-mail provider. This was a new initiative that has received much positive feedback.
Residense Hall Networking (RESNET)
Each semester, University Computing improved the RESNET process with the positive result of more students successfully meeting the security requirements to get online without UC assistance. UC now supports over 1800 Residence Hall students. RESNET usage continues to be at an all time high with an increase of 38.5% from Fall/05 to Fall/06. CleanAccess has allowed UC to ensure that students’ machines are prevented from infecting other RESNET machines as well as getting infected by other RESNET machines from known vulnerabilities. UC also provided RESNET assistance to residence hall students, including appointments, training, supplies, and hardware and software support. This resulted in more students getting “connected” successfully and in a shorter period of time.
Support Academic Computing
Supported the Computer Science and Biology departments IT infrastructures so that faculty time can be spent on our mission of teaching and learning instead of managing IT resources.
University Computing staff developed a web-based system to aid CUCAS in managing the approval process for curriculum changes. Currently, a paper-based system is used, requiring all forms to be physically transported from one approver to another. The new system is built on Lotus Notes technology and will reduce the time needed to facilitate a curriculum change.
Social Science Portfolios
University Computing staff worked with the Social Science Department to develop a simple student portfolio system on one of the university file shares. This portfolio system will enable the Social Sciences department to electronically collect the work accomplished by their seniors during the semester for later evaluation. These portfolios will be retained for five years.
Improved Help Desk Operations
Moved from old GWI software to Track-It! The new software provides the Help Desk with an easier workflow and greater reporting capabilities. Created a web application for help desk use to consolidate student/faculty/staff information resulting in more closed calls by the help desk attendant. Reformatted existing documentation for future inclusion in the help desk software’s knowledgebase.
Delivered over 160 new and ongoing training workshops for faculty and staff on Blackboard Vista (WebCT Vista), Active Directory for Macintosh users, and Microsoft Office general and specific topics. Workshops continue to be well received. The Student Technology Training Center offered an average of 30 workshops per month to students in addition to one-on-one tutorials and individualized assistance.
A web application was designed and implemented to manage WestConnect cards. Account balance and recent transactions now can be viewed online. Lost or stolen cards can be reported online. Students, faculty, and staff have the ability to add money to their ConnectCash account on the web. Technical assistance was also provided to the WestConnect Card Office with the expansion of the use of the card for laundry, bookstore, and food service.
University Web Site
Worked closely with University Relations and University Publications and Design to develop WestConn's web site, including new and enhanced sites, such as admissions and prospective students, academic advisement, scholarships, news and events, registration, and the School of Visual and Performing Arts.
Telecommunications at WestConn (Voice)
Improvements in the telecommunications voice services area have been completed to improve reliability, documentation, and uncover cost savings. Recent Voice Telecommunications accomplishments included working cooperatively with CSU System Office to migrate WestConn to Version 5 of Pinnacle (TMS) Telemanagement System, continued to improve reliability of the voice cabling infrastructure by bringing the existing building distribution system into conformance with system office and industry guidelines, participated in system wide initiative to develop recommendations for a Wide Area Network (WAN) that will dramatically improve the capabilities and reliability of the CSU network, supported innovative use of videoconferencing technology to enhance the learning experience for students in the Ancell School of Business and the Biology Department, acquired additional test equipment which allowed UC staff to perform more work in-house and avoid vendor costs, developed voice system configuration policy and procedures, developed department templates and no-cost feature upgrades, offered expanded conferencing access and a conference telephone to a multi-user teleconferencing bridge number that users reserve, and increased the number of videoconference locations into the Science Building as well as Old Main third floor conference room.
Telecommunications at WestConn (Data)
Improvements in the telecommunications data services area have been implemented to improve reliability, security, and structure. Great progress was made throughout the year as we progressed with the virtual local area network (VLAN) restructuring project at both Midtown and Westside.
Network Infrastructure Upgrades performed to LAN, and WAN at WestConn
Network infrastructure security upgrades included the creation of additional faculty, staff, and classroom/lab VLANs to better segment the academic traffic from administrative traffic. Wireless and RESNET traffic has been migrated to the DMZ to better secure the University network from personal machines. Waterbury campus connection and bandwidth has been increased by moving the connection between Danbury and Waterbury off of ATM and over to a MPLS tunnel through the CEN network. Connection speed has gone from 1 megabit to 100 megabits.
Improved Monitoring of Server And Databases
Two server monitoring products were implemented during the past academic year.
The first is Nagios, an open-source system that monitors servers (hosts). Nagios continuously monitors the health of various servers and alerts University Computing staff of problems. Many of these problems are corrected before users notice them. Presently, Nagios actively monitors 185 services on 67 hosts. The second monitoring system is the Oracle Enterprise Manager (OEM) product. OEM main purpose at WestConn is to monitor the health of the Banner database and to help us facilitate maintenance activities. Because the Banner production database physically resides in Hartford, the OEM project required communication and cooperation between WestConn and system office IT staff.
Daylight Savings Patching
Almost all workstations and servers on the university network were patched this spring to incorporate the new Daylight Saving Time (DST) rules that were introduced by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Many applications had to be upgraded as well and some required data correction. Very few problems were detected during the weeks following March 11.
Banner Password Aging and Complexity Rules
New password rules were put into effect for the Internet Native Banner (INB) system. These security enhancements protect the system from unauthorized users in a number of ways. First, INB passwords must adhere to complexity standards and are set to expire every 60 days. Additionally, the new password rules mandate that an INB account is automatically locked for fifteen minutes after five successive failed login attempts. A cracker attempting a dictionary or brute-force attack will be stopped repeatedly by the account locking. Security standards that were developed system-wide are being implemented.
Improved Patch Management for Windows
Most of the famous worms and Trojan Horses spread themselves by attacking known software flaws and security holes. Most of these holes are addressable by applying the latest patches from the software vendor. University Computing implemented the Windows Software Update Service (WSUS) product from Microsoft. WSUS allows us to centrally instruct computers to download and install Microsoft patches. As of June 13, over 1733 desktops, laptops, and servers report to the WSUS server for update instructions. Since September, over 188 Microsoft updates have been automatically deployed to university computers (over 88,000 individual package installations). Again, system-wide security standards are being implemented.
WestConn Remote Access (remote.wcsu.edu)
More users continue to take advantage of WestConn’s Neoteris SSL-based virtual private network (VPN) solution for off-campus access to their file shares and applications such as Internet Native Banner (INB). Neoteris SSL-based VPN solution has allowed WestConn to tighten its security in regards to what can enter our university from the Internet. A user can now securely access resources inside of WestConn’s network, such as their H: and K: drives, from their home or anywhere in the world over the Internet. UC can now allow remote access for authorized individuals to inside resources that are too risky to leave open to the entire world.
- IT Goal - Continue to work with the Information Technology Committee (ITC) to “Deliver a World of Technology”
A milestone has been achieved!
100% of the classrooms that are suited for technology will contain standard technology before the beginning of Academic Year 2007/2008. WestConn has 127 technology classrooms. Of those 127 technology classrooms, 19 are PC multi-station technology classrooms, and three are Macintosh multi-station technology classrooms.
Technology Upgrades (Replacement Plan)
Multi-station classrooms/labs WH 301, WH 302, WH 305 (Journalism Lab), WH 306 (Graphics Lab), BR 017 (Communications Video Editing Lab), BR 104 (Freshman Resource Center), BR 105 (Math Clinic), BR 106 (Writing Lab), WS 212 (Marketing Dept.), Psychology Lab, WS 377b (Accounting Dept.), WS 117a (Education Dept.); as well as public workstations in the Haas Library (floors 2-4), and Student Technology Training Center Macintoshes have been upgraded.
Faculty/Staff Technology Guide Version 3 and Student Technology Guide Version 1
University Computing produced new versions of the guides to facilitate communication of services available at our university.
Fifteen kiosks and five public workstations in the Haas Library, three public workstations in the Young Library, Weather Center information wall (11 displays and four workstations), SB 279 (Meteorology Lab), Psychology Lab, 13 Xerox Phaser Color Laser Printers for the President, Vice-Presidents, and Deans, and additional classrooms equipped with standard instructor technology have been completed.
Electronic Software Requests
Replaced a paper-based system with a web-based application to capture and organize software requests for faculty research and classroom/labs. WestConn’s software inventory for faculty research and in classrooms/labs continued to increase with ITC yearly set-aside funds to ensure faculty integration into the curriculum.
Wireless at WestConn
Use of wireless networks continues to be very popular in our academic environment. Wireless allows one to be mobile and use the network freely in wireless coverage areas. WestConn has begun the implementation of the next level of wireless in the form of Lightweight Access points. These access points provide better redundancy, reliability, manageability, and security to the wireless network infrastructure. WestConn continued to offer fast and reliable wireless network access to students, faculty, and staff with data connection speeds of up to 54Mbps. New locations have been added based on student and faculty input. They include the Westside Campus Center (all floors and immediate outdoor seating areas), the Westside Classroom Building (all floors and immediate outdoor seating areas), and Centennial Hall (the first residence hall to have wireless with a Fall 2007 completion date). Our goal is to achieve 100% of intended coverage. WestConn now has over 112 wireless access points located at the two campuses.
University Strategic Plan
Documented discussions occurred with the ITC on how technology can assist in achieving the goals set forth in the University Strategic Plan. The document will be a formal input to the IT Strategic Functional Team.
- IT Goal - Provide an Information Technology environment that will build and retain a strong University Computing team
- UC staff continued to complete projects that are challenging, varied, and rewarding.
- Sought and implemented UC staff suggestions, such as new helpdesk software, web-based application for helpdesk staff, knowledgebase for UC staff, as well as website suggestions.
- UC staff participated in numerous search committees, system-wide initiatives, and university initiatives, such as the Pandemic Flu Committee, Distance Education Committee, Library and Media Services Committee, and the Web Team.
- Increased the number of webinars, one-day conferences, book purchases, certifications, and training sessions that UC staff participated in or attended.
- Continued empowering managers. Managers worked directly with their reports to discuss and set goals, write their evaluations and then get CIO input, approved days off within their group before CIO looked at the requests as a whole in terms of impact on UC, and meet regularly with their reports with communication back to CIO.
- User Services Manager now works directly with school technology chairs to implement faculty workstation replacement plan.
- IT Goal - Serve as a catalyst in working with the university community to innovatively leverage technology to advance and support the mission and goals of the university
Created a process for IT project initiation and prioritization, and CIO reviewed existing and new projects as well as needs and goals with each vice president and the president. CIO continued to act as liaison between senior management and the ITC to ensure that the goals and priorities of both parties were represented, understood, balanced, and implemented.
Transfer of a vacant position
As a direct result of a recommendation from one of the strategic planning committees, CIO transferred a full-time position to Institutional Advancement to support the marketing and promotion of the university on the university's web site.
Information Technology Committee
The Information Technology Committee continued to have frank discussions and be instrumental in providing direction and vision to each other, their school technology committees, and the CIO. Trust is evident and the ITC continues to be a very functional sub-committee of the University Senate.
Campus Tools Higher Ed (TK20) Implementation
TK20 implementation began during the Spring 2007 semester to aid the Education Department in meeting the assessment requirements for NCATE accreditation. By utilizing this technology solution, teaching and learning outcomes can be tracked to gather the two years worth of assessment data to achieve accreditation. WestConn was chosen as the pilot institution for this system-wide initiative. Collaboration at our university is occurring and the implementation is well on its way to a successful completion. Fulfilling the requirements for NCATE accreditation is a milestone which not only benefits the students and faculty in the Education program but the University as a whole.
Astra Schedule Implementation
Astra Scheduling is a collaborative effort between the Registrar’s Office and University Computing. It is being implemented in a phased approach that began in May 2007. It promises to fine tune the scheduling process and to benefit students in the future by assisting in the determination of needs and subsequently scheduling enough sections, in high demand time slots, for the courses required to successfully complete their academic programs. The scheduling process now can better focus on toward student needs.
Using Technology for Enrollment and Retention
Attendance Tracking for the first three weeks of major terms and varying times for other terms was implemented. Now students can be tracked that unofficially left the University, have unofficially dropped classes preventing other students from registering, and serve as an early flagging device for potential "at risk" students who exhibit erratic attendance. The attendance tracking system also serves as an early warning indicator to identify students who may be "at risk" so they may receive the attention and services necessary to keep their academic careers on track. This will aid the University in retaining students before the situation escalates.
Maintaining High Academic Standards for WestConn’s Sports
NCAA Eligibility Tracking and Reports were developed in Fall 2006 to track the academic progress of our student athletes to insure that high academic standards are being maintained for those participating on WestConn's sport teams. This replaced a manual process.
Assist with the creation of and transition to the School of Visual and Performing Arts
With the creation of the School of Visual and Performing Arts in August 2006, processing within the Banner system and associated reporting needed to be modified to accommodate the new school. All students in the Arts, Music, and Theater programs were also moved from the Schools of Arts and Sciences and Professional Studies to the new school. Since the creation of a new school is a major business process change, the re-engineering of existing processes and reports continue to evolve.
Monthly meetings have been occurring with the Provost, Deans, and Enrollment Manager in order to routinely communicate their needs and goals to the CIO.
Continued Community Outreach
For over 20 years, University Computing has been an active participant in the annual Science Horizons regional Science Fair. UC handles the registering of participants, tallying of scores, printing of certificates, and producing myriad reports. Custom-developed software and a wireless LAN network are used to manage all processes.
- IT Goal - Improve the IT assessment process
- Discussed technology assessment with ITC and will implement something more formal during the 2006/07 academic year.
- Had open dialogues with colleagues at our sister universities and the system office to help formulate and validate our own technology and infrastructure vision.
- Participated for the 2nd year in the Educause Core Data Survey.
- Continued to survey faculty and staff on technology workshops that were delivered and need to be created and received a positive response.
- Had discussions with students, faculty, and staff on what technology they encountered elsewhere and how we might utilize it work at WestConn.
- CIO attended Banner Summit and returned with creative ideas that other Banner Universities have developed and implemented.
- Students, faculty, and staff utilize the open-door policy that the CIO promotes.
- IT Goal - Collaborate on system-wide initiatives while representing the needs of our university
- UC actively participated in every system-wide project and was complimented by the Chancellor on our thoroughness. All requests were submitted on-time.
- Director of Telecom and Network Security Specialist served on the team and were major contributors to the development of the system-wide Security Standards document.
- UC worked with University constituents to complete the comprehensive Security Standards Matrix and the Banner Information Asset Inventory and Risk Assessment Worksheet.
- WestConn’s CIO served on the search committee for the System CIO.
- UC participated in the system-wide Banner UNIX re-architecture committee which is currently examining replacement strategies for the existing hardware/operating system and will provide migration recommendations this summer.
- OnlineCSU online course structure was transformed into the new eLearning environment. With this, our online courses fall under WestConn's branding and management.
- CSU is in the process of replacing the WAN with an optical mesh network which will provide redundancy and expanded capacity. UC staff participated in the WAN Design/RFP group and secured WestConn’s WS campus as a separate node on the WAN.
- WestConn is serving as the lead university to establish best practices for our sister institutions with Tk20 professional software.
- The CSU system began looking into a long-term replacement of the current Banner UNIX infrastructure. The CIT chartered a team with the System Manager/DBA representing WestConn. The team is charged with evaluating different models and providing recommendations for a new Banner architecture.
- Blackboard Vista (WebCT Vista) was piloted and fully implemented for Fall 2006. Over 70 faculty were trained on Vista, with 62 actively using Vista in their Fall 2006 courses. 155 sections with over 2600 students utilized this course management tool.
- The Banner ERP system was upgraded to version 7.3/4 in Spring 2007 to maintain the integrity of the University’s business processes and the information critical to those processes.
- A system-wide initiative was started in early 2006 to insure consistency of the reporting of third week statistics. The Institutional Research directors met with technology staff over several months to develop a process for harvesting and reporting system-wide statistics. The result is a data warehouse and data marts for each university which will contain normalized and consistent data to meet IPEDS, DHE, and other reporting requirements.
- UC was very involved in the planning, implementation, and quality control for telecom (voice, video, and data) in the WS Campus Center, Fairfield Hall, local renovation projects. The WS Campus Center was a large project. It involved designing the network infrastructure; working with students and staff to determine technology needs; designing, building, and installing the wireless network; and working with the system office on the outside plant cabling coordination.
- Participated in other system-wide task forces, such as telecommunications, help desk, and prioritization of system-wide projects.