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.

One Reply to “November 2012 update from the CIO”

  1. Very informative update, thanks Joseph! I wasn’t sure of the TLB opening date so I went into Excel and plugged in today’s date + 233 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

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