University of Minnesota
University Relations
Our Brand: How to Convey It

Our Brand: How to Convey It.

April 2009 Archives

Lyris ListManager is an enterprise application

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Lately we've been working with OIT to better position Lyris ListManager as an enterprise system. That's not to say it's not now or that it hasn't been, but it hasn't always appeared that way. We currently have 235 users from 47 different units (a unit could be an entire college or an individual department), coming from four of our five campuses, and we anticipate continuing growth from recent interest in the system.

The first change implemented, working with the Office of Information Technology (OIT), was to transition e-mail support requests to Request Tracker, to allow for better handling of support requests and other e-mail traffic, as well as keeping a better history of requests in a central location. Support requests and other inquiries should continue to come to

The second change, also working with OIT, was to add Lyris to OIT's System Status site, since Lyris is supported both by OIT and University Relations and includes so many users. Taking OIT's approach of naming systems with a hint as to their purpose, rather than using actual product names, you can find the Lyris as the Mass E-mail Distribution System (Lyris). Feel free to keep calling it "Lyris," but a generic system name is desirable should the product used change in the future.

Events Calendar Update

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In case anyone missed the January announcement, University Relations is working to re-vamp the current events calendar that is available to the University. Since that announcement, we have received feedback from users on functional requirements and what they would like to see from the events calendar. In addition, we have met with the Office of Information Technology (OIT) and have discussed how we can work with them on this project and also to understand how projects move through OIT.

As we approach the end of April, we are looking to finish up the functional requirements so that we may move on to finding a technical solution. What that technical solution will look like, we do not know yet. At this point in time, everything is on the table, whether it is building it, buying it, or integrating with existing systems. We will pick the solution based on how well they meet the functional requirements along with the expected cost of ownership.

If any group would like to meet with University Relations to discuss the events calendar, see where we are at for functional requirements, and also to provide feedback, we would be more than willing to meet with the group. If you are interested, please e-mail me at I will hopefully be posting the functional requirements here by the end of April to give individuals a chance to view the requirements and also provide feedback.

Napoleon Dynamite - Envious of UMContent?

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I recently read an article on that stated: “To gain more control over content, most communicators are changing their content management system (CMS).”

Napoleon DynamiteAs I delved into the story, one of the major themes bubbling to the top was the lack of distributed content ownership. It made me think the University of Minnesota is very lucky to have such a robust Web content management system. (Or “luckeee” as Napoleon Dynamite would say.)

UMContent, the University-branded system based on Oracle’s Universal Content Management product, helps couple communication with technology.

Many of you familiar with the system know about Oracle’s pyramid philosophy where the contributors are many, the site managers fewer, and the Web development team even less. This type of methodology allows the University to centrally maintain a resource resulting in lower costs and higher efficiencies.

And there’s more good news… Not only does UMContent empower communicators but separates presentation from content. Splitting the two allows for content to be repurposed on different Web sites, platforms, or sliced and diced in ways I cannot even think of. Looking ahead as the University grapples with social computing, mobile devices, multi-lingual sites, and more, building a foundation where the content can be manipulated, shared, and reused is smart.

As you may know, the University’s home page uses UMContent. But, you may not know the recently redesigned Office of Information Technology (OIT) home page relies on UMContent. Or, that the College of Continuing Education, Academic Health Center, Office of Human Resources, and many others are using the system. If you have not checked out OIT’s new site – do so. It’s a beautiful thing.

By now you are probably thinking, “Yeah, she really drank the Oracle Kool-Aid.” And, there may be a smidgen of truth to that.

Long ago, in a place far, far away, I was responsible for a $1.2M overhaul of internal/external Web system; and, after an exhaustive research process landed on Oracle’s UCM product. At the time, Stellent (which is the company that owned the Web content system which Oracle purchased in November 2006) was named Intranet Solutions. Yup… it was a long time ago.

In addition, I was Stellent’s Web manager and became intimately familiar with the product. Who knew that I would still be working with the system when I joined the University?

Now, I completely understand a Web content management system may not be the answer for every Web site. Of course there are very small Web sites requiring limited maintenance and maybe UMContent doesn’t fit the bill. Maybe there are strong business reasons why not to use UMContent. Only by first identifying the audience, the objectives, and the strategies could a decision on the technology be made.

But… (you knew that was coming, right?), once the business and functional requirements have been documented and it is time to consider the technological solution, UMContent may be the best choice. After years of working with many CMS and Web programs, I truly believe the advantages of UMContent far outweigh its glitches.


P.S. For those of you that wear many online hats—the next mass e-mail user group meeting is coming up. Join the group and enjoy a complimentary Kool-Aid Kool Burst. (Hmmm- I’m sensing there’s some sort of Kool-Aid theme going on with me. Weird.)

Here’s the details:

Morrill Hall
Room 238A
Friday, April 17
2-3:30 p.m.

Mass e-mail user group meeting next week

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The April meeting of the mass e-mail user group (MEUG) is Friday, April 17. This month, Sarah Bjorkman from Extension joins us to talk about her experiences in Extension with mass e-mail and rolling out Lyris for their units communications. We're glad to have yet another speaker in to talk about their experiences, the good, the bad, and lessons learned in planning and executing a rollout for a large unit. We should have ample time for questions and discussion.

We'll have some short topics and announcements following Sarah's presentation and open discussion after that. It's a great opportunity to learn from and network with others working with mass e-mail.

The meeting details are:
    Friday, April 17
    Morrill Hall room 238A
    2-3:30 p.m.
    some treats provided

If you're on a coordinate campus, we can set you up with a conference call and UMConnect so you can participate. Send us an e-mail at by noon on Thursday, April 16 so we can get you connection information.

We don't have an agenda for May's meeting yet, but invite all of our users to present. The best feedback we've had has been for presentations offered by units who have shared details of their implementation and experiences with others. Even if you've had a bad experience, we can all benefit from that knowledge.

Branding Policy review

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University Relations has been talking with many individuals and groups on campus regarding the proposed branding policy. After much discussion and revisions, the policy is now available for people to review. The branding policy is officially called the "Use of the University's Trademarks, Logos, Colors, and Seal" policy. This policy is now available to the University community for a 30-day public review and comment period. Feedback received will be considered prior to the policy going into effect. This document may be found at

Some highlights of this policy are:
- Guidelines are now policy.
- Units are expected to use Driven to Discover.
- Maroon and gold and/or branded elements are required and need to appear prominently.
- All Web sites are to use official headers and footers.
- Individual logos for colleges, departments, and other units are to be phased out or repurposed as graphic as graphic elements.
- Individual taglines for colleges, departments, and other units are to be eliminated or moved to headlines or themes.

We have put together a one page overview of the new brand policy. The overview can be found at

If anyone has feedback to give on the policy, it is encouraged to provide the feedback via the Policy web site.

Blog template screen shots

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By request, I've taken a few screen shots of the templates that have been coded for the blogs. These screen shots don't show as much variation as you're likely to want in the column background color and the right column boxes, but they give you the general idea. You'll need to tweak the blog template code to change the background and box colors to what you'd like for your site.

The following links open new windows:

2.6.4 column home page

2.6.4 column secondary page

2.7.3 column secondary page

3.5.4 column secondary page

Horizontal navigation: A few important template updates

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There have been a couple of template glitches that we've been alerted to in the past few weeks. We have some easy but important fixes that should be made by anyone using the horizontal navigation with the templates.

First Update—It was brought to our attention that the dropdowns in the optional horizontal navigation menu don't always work. We narrowed the problem down to site structure. Any pages below the top level were not showing the dropdown menus. This glitch was due to the .htc file that helps IE display the dropdowns.

Here's the issue: when using a relative path to link to the .htc file from a url in an external CSS stylesheet, IE calculates the location of that file based on the page you have loaded, not the stylesheet where this declaration is included. So, what might work on a top-level page won't for second-level and deeper directories.

The fix? Once the absolute path to the .htc file is determined, use that URL with behavior:url() in the optional.css style sheet.

For example: {behavior:url(;}

Second Update—A new problem made for a busy Friday afternoon today. Earlier testing didn't pick up a strange behavior in, you guessed it, IE6. When adjusting the window size of a template that uses the horizontal navigation, such as the index_2.6.4.html template, the links didn't move along with the window. So, for example, as you make the window more narrow, the links just begin to fall off the page rather than moving in as they should.

Again, it's another easy fix, thankfully. In the text.css file, add position: relative; to the body element. That's it!

As always, if you'd rather not make these changes yourself, simply download a new template file from

And be sure to check the Template Change Log to see all the changes that have been made since the templates launched.