Those of you on the Morris campus probably saw the University Register article discussing last week's TechFee deliberations. If you aren't familiar with Morris, TechFee is part of our culture of strong campus governance. In 1997, our students felt so strongly about improving the level of technology on campus that they voted to introduce a new student fee: the "Technology Fee" or "TechFee." Since then, the Morris Campus Student Association has opened an annual request for units to request special funding to support new technology that benefits our students. The TechFee process includes two days of presentations, and one very long special session to deliberate and determine allocations. In practice, the TechFee process is not very different from State legislature deliberation. As the IT Director for the Morris campus, I sit on the TechFee process as an adviser, although only the students vote for the allocations.
This year, our IT unit made several requests for TechFee funding, including expanding the wireless network, updating computer labs, and introducing new lab features. The TechFee process provided excellent feedback on the student governance prioritization of our projects. While we are working with MCSA to create an ongoing IT advisory board, which will inform us with continual feedback and prioritization, this year's deliberation provided a suitable opportunity to seek input from student governance.
If you remember when we completed the replacement of our campus network in August, we shared our next steps:
- First, complete the network update at the soccer field. (We completed this work in August last year, and marked the end of "Phase 1")
- Next, enhance the wireless network in the residence halls. We want to make sure all rooms can get onto the wireless network. ("Phase 2")
- Then we will look at other areas on campus where we need to extend our wireless coverage. This will include enhancing our existing wireless, plus adding new wireless in spaces that do not currently have wireless networks. ("Phase 3")
The student governance this year provided prioritization of our wireless upgrade. During TechFee deliberation on our network upgrade project funding request, MCSA representatives shared their feedback with us. For example, MCSA identified that wireless in the residence halls is not a top need for students, that residential campus wireless is "good enough" for now. MCSA also helped prioritize the wireless coverage in the academic buildings. We are thankful for their input, and with that consultation we have decided to table further work on expanding the wireless coverage in the residential spaces.
Our to-do list for the next year is now:
- Network upgrade
- We will continue with the network upgrade, focusing on Science and HFA.
- Computing labs
- Our computer lab updates will continue this summer. Also, we are very excited to add a new feature to the Imholte computer lab. In consultation with faculty (and special thanks to Barbara Burke) we plan to add new software in Imholte that will allow instructors to take the lab computers offline. For example, instructors might use the lab to give in-class essay examinations, typing their essay into Microsoft Word, without having to unplug each lab computer.
- Student printing
- We worked with the Student Affairs committee this semester to investigate a growing need for printing in the residence halls. Thanks to Tamir on MCSA and Student Affairs, we plan to expand printing in these areas for students.
We very much appreciate the input provided by MCSA and the student governance process. And we are looking forward to a very busy and productive summer where we hope to raise the level of technology for our students and faculty! We are already planning the next steps so we will be ready for our work in summer.