March 2010 update from the CIO

Hello everyone,

One of the pieces of feedback that we’ve received in recent months was a request to improve the level of  communication about “what is going on” at CIS.  ”We know you’re doing lots of things”, one person said, “but we don’t have a good way of following it”.   We received this feedback through more than one channel.    As part of our response, we’ve decided to provide a monthly update to the community.  It will contain highlights and links to our news site, where you will find regular updates provided by CIS staff.

We have so much news!   I’ll have to choose a few pieces and urge you to visit the news site for more.

1. In the Fall, we launched a new version of the HMC Information Technology Strategy Document.   The Board of Trustees reviewed it briefly in September, and I did a long presentation on it at the Saddle Rock Trustee retreat in November.   When I visited departments in the late Fall and early Spring, I distributed copies.  Four big areas for IT strategy in the coming years:

  • Information Technology Governance at HMC
  • Information Technology Infrastructure at HMC
  • CIS, the central Information Technology organization
  • Innovation in Information Technology at HMC.

The IT strategy document is available for comments at http://www5.hmc.edu/draft91/ You can download a copy there too.

2. Our newly created  Educational Technology and Media Services unit, headed up by Elizabeth Hodas, has been busy.  They’ve hired a Scientific Computing Specialist,  worked steadily on the Learning Studio in Sprague and, in collaboration with the Library,  introduced a new series of lunchtime opportunities to learn more about educational technology. It’s called “A Bite of Learning”.  As if all that wasn’t enough, they also got a couple of really interesting pilot programs under way.

3. CIS launched a client centered initiative last summer.  It’s designed to steadily increase our focus on and accountability to you, our customers.   The core idea is that honest feedback, if we pay attention to it, will allow us to constantly improve our services.   That last sentence had three important elements:

  • honest feedback.  We can’t get it if you don’t give it to us!
  • we pay attention.  In our staff meetings we’ve been working on giving and receiving feedback and identifying our internal and external customers, suppliers and stakeholders.
  • we improve our services.  All the feedback in the world won’t help if we aren’t responsive.  Over the coming months we will continue to analyze the feedback we’ve received and develop new service strategies.

You will have noticed some of the early steps in this initiative, such as our focus groups in November and the surveys that request feedback about service issues recorded in the Footprints ticket system.

By the way, this is a good moment to mention that a great way to bring issues to our attention is to send a note to helpdesk@hmc.edu.   Those messages automatically go into our service issue tracking system (we use an application called Footprints), where they are visible to many CIS staff and we can ensure that your needs are being met.   Calling, visiting or stopping us on campus are also great ways to go — if you do that, we’ll put the issue in Footprints on your behalf.

Our ultimate goal is to surprise and delight you every time you come to us for service. And we won’t rest until we have evidence that that’s what’s happening!

4.  In the Fall Semester I asked the Cabinet to form an Email and Calendar task force to address the question of what the College should be doing in this important and fast changing area of information technology.  The task force is to assess if Harvey Mudd should alter its email and calendaring systems and if so make a recommendation.  We are also considering sourcing options, such as whether CIS should continue providing email in-house or whether we should use one of  the hosted alternatives, such as Microsoft Live@edu or Google Apps for Education.   In the Fall, the task force ran a campus wide survey — you can still participate at http://tinyurl.com/HMCemail and you can view a snapshot of the results.   They also narrowed down on a number of issues that we think are important for the college.

I am hoping that we will see a recommendation from the task force before the end of the Spring  semester. 

5.  Data and Software Engineering Services (led by Susan Selhorst) and the User Support Group (led by Calvin Tong) have been working in close collaboration with the Registrar’s office and the Jenzabar CX team at Pomona College, to support a Claremont wide move to online registration for classes.   Pilots in the Fall Semester were very successful, so much so that the Registrar decided to extend the pilot to juniors and sophomores as well as seniors.   As well as the programming and testing of the portal, CIS provided laptops in the Green Room and technical support throughout the registration period.  A next step for CIS is to help develop an electronic means to track the approvals of two advisers (something which is unique to HMC among the Claremont Colleges).   Web Registration is scheduled to reach full production status in the Fall.

So that’s a sample from the many pieces of news we have.  I hope you enjoyed reading it and that you will tell us your reaction and what you’d like to read about next time.  The comments section at the end of the news article would be a good place to do that.

Wishing you the best as we move into the frenzied time at the end of Spring semester!

Joseph Vaughan

CIO/VP for Computing and Information Services

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