Data Management Plans

Many faculty are already aware of the fact that the NSF and other funding agencies are now requiring that grant applications include a “data management plan”.  Last Spring, Jeho Park, our Scientific Computing Specialist wrote a report on data management plans, which is at (requires HMC credentials).

Jeho has also recently told me about the California Digital Library’s DMP Tool, which takes you step by step through the process of developing a data management plan.  It is at this link:  You can create an account at (choose “none of the above” under “select your institution”).  Once you create your account and log in, the tool is pretty self-explanatory.  [Update 2/2/15: these links are no longer active, but the tool is at]

Several faculty that have tried it have reported to me that the found it useful.

If you are writing up a data management plan, I urge you to contact me.  We can help with the specifics of how CIS systems are backed up and provide feedback on the plan.


November 2012 update from the CIO

I did not send out an October 2012 update from the CIO. My apologies. It does mean there’s a lot to report this time.  Hopefully, before you take off for Thanksgiving you’ll have a chance to read this update and maybe even comment on it.

CINE wireless signal.
If there’s only one thing you take away from this CIO update, let it be this: “CINE wireless is not going away yet and the college needs my help identifying problems with Claremont-WPA”. OK, that’s two things, but at least it is one sentence.

The CINE wireless signal will soon be retired, and has already been removed by some of our sister Claremont Colleges. As I wrote in a previous article, it is open and unencrytped, and therefore quite insecure. However, we have been hearing reports of issues with the new Claremont WPA signal. We are working to unravel the various elements in these reports.  For example, is there an underlying issue with increased wireless demand on campus?  Are there issues with individual devices?  Is there an issue with the configuration of Claremont-WPA?

HMC will not retire the CINE signal until problems have been resolved and we have a good wireless access solution for College guests.

The problems that are being reported (and that we sometimes experience ourselves) appear to be intermittent. Those are often the hardest to resolve, so please make sure to report any problems you encounter by writing to  And a sincere thank you to those who have been reporting issues to us.

Planning activities: Portal Improvements
CIS continues to engage in planning activities that will update our list of tactical initiatives for 2013-15. Here’s one that you may find interesting.  We are going to pay special attention to the portal over the next 18 months.  John Trafecanty, one of our most talented programmers, and the person who gave us rock solid Sakai support for so many years, now includes the two Portals among his responsibilities.

Also, I have been discussing with a number of people the idea of forming a Portal Advisory Group that will help guide CIS work on the portal.  The vision statement for this group goes like this:

The portal is a tool which we know HMC has not used to its full capacity. This group will guide CIS and the College in improving and expanding use of the portal.

Registrar Mark Ashley has agreed to chair this group, which we are fondly referring to as “PAG”.  You can read a little more about this initiative at this link: and please watch for updates during the rest of the academic year.

Saddle Rock
The annual HMC Trustee retreat (called “Saddle Rock”) took place at the end of October in Palm Spring.  Trustees, Faculty, Students and Staff came together for two days of discussion of educational technology and its implications for Harvey Mudd.  We saw presentations about flipped classrooms by HMC faculty, about MOOCs by Stanford faculty and staff and about the latest in learning management systems by the founder of WebCT, Murray Goldberg. It was a joy to participate in the engaging discussion of these technologies.

Discussions with Faculty Executive committee (FEC)
During the month of October, I had a good discussion with Kerry Karukstis, Chair of the Faculty, about a number of things that had come up in the course of Faculty Executive Committee (FEC) meetings.  They ranged from a request for an online faculty voting system to requests for more information about our IT sourcing strategies. One outcome of these discussions was an agreement that I would meet with the FEC Committee at least once per semester.  I see this as a great new element in our evolving IT governance and I am really looking forward to working with the FEC.

Educause Annual Conference
7,600 people, including me, attended the Educause Annual conference in Denver the week immediately following Saddle Rock. Educause is an organization dedicated to IT in higher education. There were some excellent presentations, including one on “IT as a core academic competence” by Clay Shirky.  Despite its somewhat dry title, Shirky’s presentation included delightful examples such as a DARPA project that tested crowd sourcing to solve an intelligence problem, an example of crowd sourcing to solve math problems and an example of what happened when a large newspaper company instructed regional papers to “go digital” with zero budget to do so.  The whole presentation is online at (Shirky’s presentation begins at about minute 19 of the video). It’s well worth looking at.

Much of my time at the conference was spent in meetings with vendors, with colleagues from other institutions and on two Educause committees (the IT Issues panel and the 2013 Annual Conference Programming Committee).  Next year’s annual conference will be near us in Anaheim: consider attending.

Teaching and Learning Building
Last, but very far from least, there’s the matter of a large building that is shooting up on our campus. There are only 233 days left until it opens! As I write, I see out the window that scaffolding is up in preparation for tiling the facade of the building.  At CIS, we have been engaged in preparations for the network and AV systems in the building.  We are keenly aware that expectations around the building are high and we are anxious not to disappoint.  Working closely with Project Manager David Dower, we have been meeting with all of the people responsible for systems that will need some network connectivity (everything from security cameras to the point of sale register in the cafe).  We have engaged a company called SIGMAnet to help with planning for network improvements around the building as well as the in-building network.  We are also actively working with Western AV, the “design and build” vendor for audio-visual systems in the building.

OK. If you made it all the way to the end of this long report, you are now among the people I am thankful for this holiday! As always, if you have comments or questions, please feel free to leave a comment below or email me directly (

Everyone at CIS wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving.

Portal Advisory Group

I have been discussing the portal with a number of people around campus over the last few months. Improvement and expansion of the portal will be a key initiative for the next two years.

There are several reasons for this:

  1. The portal plays a key role in many important areas of the College’s activities.  Grades, Registration, Advising, Student Billing and Alumni Directory are just some examples.
  2. We know that other institutions have more attractive and functional installations of the same portal software (JICS), so our instance of the portal can be made better too.
  3. Because of the fact that we collaborate with the other Claremont Colleges to provide cross-registration for students, moving to a completely different portal is not a simple proposition.
  4. Both Jenzabar, the company that provides the portal software, and AISO, the Pomona College unit that manages the underlying student information system, are committed to making improvements to the system, and we can build upon those.  For instance, Pomona recently informed us that the back end database was handling 60 million transactions per day during the Fall pre-registration period.  They have recently migrated the system from HP Unix to Linux, and are anticipating improvements in response times.

We have already taken the first steps in the portal improvement initiative. We are planning to create a Portal Advisory Group, with the following vision statement:

The portal is a tool which we know HMC has not used to its full capacity. This group will guide CIS and the College in improving and expanding use of the portal.

Registrar Mark Ashley has agreed to chair this group, which will include representation from the many areas that use the portal, as well as faculty and students.  Among the tasks we will ask the group to undertake is to advise on the queuing of CIS projects related to the portal. They currently include:

      • HSA Advising application
      • 40+ Portal improvements suggested by Registrar
      • Electronic Billing
      • OCA requests
      • Student research portlet and forms
      • Single Sign On
      • Adding a staff tab to the portal

John Trafecanty has recently taken over responsibility for the portal, as his duties related to Sakai were much reduced when we moved the Sakai service to Pomona College.  John always bring talent and persistence to programming tasks, so we anticipate great work on the portal.

Watch for more updates on this initiative and do get in touch if you’d like to be involved.

Google Apps for Education tips

Here are two tips for using HMC’s Google Apps for Education instance (

1. The following URLs will all take you directly to the Google Apps site or, if you’re not logged in, they’ll take you directly to the HMC Credentials page (not to Google first).

2. If you ever end up on the google login page and you know that you are heading for, enter your username in the form and hit enter (no password).  This will take you to the HMC credentials screen.  Yes, we know that you still have to put your username in again, but we’re working on that.