Increased University Computing Staffing
After many years with vacancies due to budget constraints and a competitive job market, University Computing hired five new staff members between June and October 2005:
- Patricia O’Neill – Server Specialist
- Michael Lynch – Voice Systems Analyst
- Marge Galtieri – PC Maintenance Technician
- Kevin Koschel – PC Maintenance Technician
- Vincent Lagano – Computer Support Trainee
These new hires added additional expertise to University Computing and resolved an auditing issue by providing cross-training and job backup. The benefits to end users were substantial, including decreased response time to support issues, a refined Help Desk operation, and an improved rapport.
Expanded Wireless Hotspots at WestConn
Use of secure wireless networks continues to be very popular in our environment. Wireless allows one to be mobile and use the network freely in wireless coverage areas. WestConn continues to offer fast and reliable wireless network access to students, faculty, and staff with data connection speeds of up to 54Mbps in many locations on the Westside and Midtown campuses that are frequented by students and faculty. Some locations are the Haas Library, Young Library, Student Center, Warner Hall, Science Building, outdoor areas in front of Old Main, the Student Center, Higgins Hall, Fairfield Hall, the Student Center snack bar, and Westside Classroom Building outside bookstore, and portions of the Westside Classroom Building. New locations have and will be added based on student, faculty, and ITC input. Wireless is being incorporated into new construction projects such as the Westside Campus Center.
Simplified Process for Resident Hall Networks (ResNet)
The existing ResNet connection process was simplified to eliminate the need for the old paper-based ResNet forms to be filled out by students and processed by University Computing staff. Students now simply plug their computers into the network jack in their room and they are brought through an automated process of connecting to the network. This process ensures that a student’s computer is up-to-date with security patches and anti-virus software before being allowed on the network, helping maintain overall network security and decreasing malware and virus threats to others significantly. Additionally, students can now make one-on-one appointments with UC staff to resolve any ResNet related problems on their computers. On August 29th, WestConn had a record setting day for ResNet connections achieving over 665 students connected on the first day of classes. University Computing supports over 1,300 residence hall students.
Continued New Computer Installations and Upgrades
In July 2005, the Midtown Computer Center was relocated from the basement of White Hall to a much nicer environment in the Cybercafé of the Haas Library. The new monitors, tables, and chairs were well received by students. Additionally, the total number of computers was increased in both the Midtown Computer Center and on other floors of the library.
In the New Science Building, a multi-station Biology computer lab (PCs and Macs) and 24-hour room were created. Wireless networking is available throughout the entire building. The Science Building was opened with 35 technology-equipped classrooms and labs, including a premier large lecture hall and two smaller lecture halls.
Computers were upgraded in the following locations: Physics lab, White Hall Midi Lab and practice rooms, the Student Technology Training Center, Westside 103 (Computer Science, included new carpet and furniture), MT and WS 24-hour rooms, the Haas and Young Libraries, and all MT instructor stations.
High-speed printers were installed in the following locations: Haas Library (B&W), Midtown Computer Center (color and B&W), Westside Computer Center (color and B&W), and the Student Technology Training Center (color and B&W).
New scanners were installed in the Midtown and Westside Computer Centers and the Student Technology Training Center.
Fourteen new technology-equipped classrooms were created with an instructor station, VCR/DVD player, projection, and printers and document cameras as needed. This brings WestConn’s total for technology-equipped classrooms to 89% with 103 classrooms (16 are multi-station). We will achieve the goal of 100% by the fall of 2007.
As part of an ongoing effort to consolidate information sources and make information more easily accessible, the WestConnduit campus-wide portal was launched in August 2005. WestConnduit provides the university community with single sign-on access to Banner Self-Serve and WebCT, campus and personal announcements, a campus events calendar, and convenient links to university resources.
Introduced WestConnduit Announcements
Based on student, faculty, and staff feedback, a new announcements tab was introduced in WestConnduit in April 2006. The new tab contains channels for categorized announcements: academics, grants and awards, human resources, committee meetings, student, technology, and WestConn community news. This new tab is part of the initiative to reduce the number of e-mails sent to all users and to bolster WestConnduit as the main source for campus communication.
Successfully Transitioned Telecommunications (Voice) to University Computing
University Computing hired a Voice Analyst, Michael Lynch. This allowed for a successful transition and improvements in the telecom voice services area to improve reliability, documentation and effect cost savings. The first complete audit of the University’s voice system was started for each department and has already yielded an annual cost savings of $24k. New/replaced cable management was installed to protect cabling infrastructure investment. System configuration policy and procedures were developed as well as department templates and no-cost feature upgrades implemented. Teleconferencing options were expanded to offer up access to a multi-user teleconferencing bridge number for users to reserve. In addition to the bridge we also have available a conference phone set available for reservations. Videoconferencing capabilities have been updated, expanded, and, when appropriate, moved to needed locations.
Improved Telecommunications Reliability and Security (Data/Network)
Improvements in the Telecommunications data/network services area have been completed to improve reliability, security, and structure. The Midtown to Westside connection has been upgraded to gigabit fiber from 20Mb ATM and our firewalls have been upgraded to gigabit capacity. Continuous improvements and security enhancements were realized throughout the year as we progressed further through the VLAN restructuring project.
Performed Network Infrastructure Upgrades to LAN, WAN, Internet, & Connecticut Education Network (CEN) at WestConn
Network Infrastructure security upgrades performed have included the creation of a management VLAN to separate Cisco switch traffic from user traffic and the implementation of a Cisco ACS server to provide AAA functionality to our Cisco switches. WAN upgrades have taken us from a usable bandwidth of 100 megabits to 1 gigabit through the upgrading of our firewalls (10x increase). WestConn’s CT Education Network (CEN) connection was upgraded to dual homed hub site and redundant switch hardware. This supplies high speed access to the Internet and the state’s education network to the local school systems through fiber optic links and equipment housed on our campus.
Expanded Use of WestConn Remote Access
More users are taking advantage of WestConn’s SSL-based VPN (remote.wcsu.edu) for off-campus access to their file shares and applications such as Banner. The SSL-based VPN solution has allowed WestConn to tighten its security in regards to what can enter our university from the Internet. A user can now access resources inside of WestConn’s network such as their H: and K: drives securely from home or anywhere in the world over the Internet. By using the VPN services, WestConn has been able to allow remote access for authorized individuals to inside resources that are too risky to leave open to the entire world. Traffic between the user’s home network and the WestConn network is encrypted and secure from snooping.
Performed Telecommunications Work for Construction Projects
University Computing is very involved in the planning, implementation, and quality control for telecom (voice, video, and data) in the Westside Campus Center, the New Science Building, local renovation projects, and personnel moves. The Science Building was a large project which involved a lot of time from many University Computing staff. Work on the project included:
- design of the network infrastructure;
- working with faculty to determine their technology needs;
- collaboration with faculty to define the multimedia needs in the classrooms, labs, and lecture halls;
- assistance in the RFP process and award for audio-visual equipment;
- verification of the wireless network design and work with the system office to produce the wireless RFP; and,
- coordination of the PBX and outside plant cabling with the system office.
The science faculty and University Computing staff worked together to achieve a successful opening of the building.
Other construction/renovation projects:
- New PBX node to service new science building and serve as a second main service point for new/renovated buildings in that direction.
- Coordinated the upgrade of the critical cooling system in the Old Main 2nd floor server room. The upgraded system has been fully reconditioned with modern controls.
- Coordinated telecommunications wiring and sprinkler system work for the Old Main 2nd floor renovations.
- Rewired network and installed new computers in Westside 103.
- Coordinated telecommunications wiring for Higgins Hall Math and Nursing office and classrooms.
Began Migration of Computers to Active Directory
Over 1,250 Windows XP computers were migrated to the new Windows Active Directory (AD) domain. With Active Directory, the replacement to the Windows NT domain currently being used, University Computing is able to centrally manage workstation configurations, security settings, and software updates. Additionally large-scale software installations are automated with AD. This reduces the time required to deploy new software allowing the university to use and teach with the latest technology. As an example, during a single weekend, Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 was installed automatically on over 200 computers.
Updated Windows XP Computers to Service Pack 2
University Computing upgraded to Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2). One of the largest benefits provided by SP2 is improved security. Each XP workstation on campus has its own individual firewall, strengthening the overall security of the university network. The Windows Firewall settings are centrally managed via Active Directory. Additionally, SP2 delivered improvements to Internet Explorer, including a pop-up blocker.
Began Upgrade to Macintosh OS X 10.4 “Tiger”
After initial testing and development during fall 2005, the Macintosh computers on campus began to be upgraded to the latest version of the operating system, OS X 10.4 “Tiger” during spring 2006. 100% of labs and classrooms and 25% of faculty and staff have been upgraded so far. The upgrade is expected to be completed by the end of August 2006. This upgrade also heralds the standardization of the operating system on all computers, integrates them into a centralized management infrastructure, and allows them to operate better and more securely in the Windows Active Directory environment.
Implemented Remote Assistance for Windows & Macintosh Computers
Technicians now have the ability to remotely monitor and interact with an end user's computer with their permission. This has allowed quicker problem resolution, enabled interactive end user training, and increased the efficiency and effectiveness of UC staff.
Implemented McAfee ePolicy Orchestrator
As part of a system-wide initiative, University Computing enhanced overall network security by implementing McAfee's ePolicy Orchestrator (ePO) software. ePO provides consolidated management of server and workstation anti-virus software. With ePO, University Computing can quickly respond to new anti-virus threats and effectively ensure that the anti-virus software is current.
Continued Migration of Faculty/Staff to Lotus Notes 6.5 & Implemented E-mail Quotas
The majority of faculty and staff at the university are now using Lotus Notes/Domino release 6.5. During this migration, University Computing used this opportunity to educate users on archiving email and to enforce disk quotas to reduce storage costs. Features introduced in 6.5 will allow for efficient deployment of release 7.
Implemented Anti-Spam Solution for Students, Faculty, and Staff
On August 28, 2005, University Computing activated an email security appliance from SonicWALL (formerly known as MailFrontier). As of May 22, 2006, over 6.2 million Internet email messages have been processed by the SonicWALL appliance. Of these, over 75% of these were quarantined as spam, virus, or phishing threats.
Continued to Provide Free Software
University Computing renewed the Microsoft Work-at-Home software program. This program allows faculty and staff to install Microsoft products on their personal computer at home (Windows and Macintosh). As part of a system-wide program, UC continued to provide the McAfee anti-virus software for students, faculty, and staff as a free download from the university web site.
Created Server Asset Management & Incident Reporting Database
University Computing developed a Lotus Domino database and application to help with the planning and management of WestConn’s server infrastructure. For the short term, this application addresses audit issues concerning server hardware and software asset management. Additionally, this system allows for management of configuration changes and incident reporting.
Upgraded to Banner 7.1 and 7.2
As part of a system-wide initiative, WestConn upgraded the Banner system to version 7.1in November 2005, providing better integration with WestConnduit, a friendlier web-based interface, and laid the groundwork for the Vista implementation. The upgrade to 7.2 was accomplished in March 2006 to stay current and fix issues with 7.1.
Converted LDIS to Manage WebCT Vista Data & WestConnduit Data
As part of the system-wide initiative to move from WebCT Campus Edition to WebCT Vista, University Computing successfully converted its Luminis Data Integration Suite (LDIS) system to link course, section, assignment, enrollment, and person data between Banner and the Vista systems. This system also synchronizes data from Banner to WestConnduit.
WestConn, in collaboration with CCSU, was awarded a $150,000 grant from the BOT’s New Technology Initiatives Fund to implement the infiNET QuikPAY service. WestConn lead the project, and in March 2005, the EZPay branded service went live. This web-based service allows students to receive electronic bills, remit tuition and fees, and authorize additional payers. The first e-bills were posted in July 2005. The ability for students and prospective students to pay their Admission Application Fee, Admissions Tuition Deposit, and Housing Deposits online was enabled in March 2006. UC staff wrote a real-time interface for the service to Banner and made it available to infiNET for the benefit other universities. This accomplishment pushed WestConn to another level of customer service.
Began Migration from WebCT Campus Edition to WebCT Vista
Since its inception, University Computing has participated in the Vista system-wide initiative. WestConn began its successful pilot of WebCT Vista in December 2005, with nine faculty members participating. An extended pilot will continue through the summer of 2006 with additional faculty participating. Vista is anticipated to be fully live for the Fall 2006 semester. In May 2006, University Computing sponsored a faculty demonstration of Vista, and over 50 faculty and staff attended. The energy level was high during the demonstration. Evidence that this was successful may be found in the fact that 20 faculty attended training during the week right after graduation.
Unveiled an Improved Technology Web Site
A new technology web site was launched in the fall of 2005, providing important technology-related information for prospective students, current students, faculty, and staff. Especially helpful is the Technology Help Center, a single source for information on common questions and problems.
Unveiled New WestConn Campus Tour Web Site
Collaborating with Admissions, Public Relations, and Publications and Design, a new and exciting virtual campus tour was created for the university web site. The new tour provides a much-improved interface for accessing detailed building and location information, and includes all new maps and photos of the two campuses. The tour can be viewed at www.wcsu.edu/campustour.
Worked with Academic Affairs to Enhance Academic Catalog Workflow
A new process for editing the undergraduate and graduate catalogs was put in place. Using the Macromedia Contribute web page editing software, the Academic Affairs office is able to edit the catalogs directly on the staging web server and allow departments to view and print their sections of the catalogs. When the edits are complete, the catalogs are published to the live web server. Additionally, Publications and Design can use the same edited version from the staging web server to create the traditional printed catalogs. This new process allows the catalogs to be published on the web site faster, greater efficiency in editing, and the option of reviewing pages electronically.
Assisted in the Implementation of the WestConnect Card
Phase one of the CBord CS Gold card system was implemented in the summer of 2005. Not only does the WestConnect card serve as identification and access control to residence halls and classrooms, it is the means by which students purchase meals from their meal plan. This program will eventually expand to include the book store, vending and laundry machines, and other applications.
Assisted in Enhancing Undergraduate Admissions Recruitment
The Admissions office asked University Computing to develop a solution for sending out mass e-mails to groups of prospective students. An external mass e-mail service provider, IntelliContact, was chosen in order to simplify the technical aspects of managing mass e-mails and to ensure compliance with mass e-mail regulations. Specifically, the web-based software manages the lists of prospective student e-mail addresses, automatically processes requests to be unsubscribed from future e-mails by recipients, and provides statistics on the delivery and opening of the e-mails that were sent out.
Assisted in Enhancing New Student Registration
In an effort to help convert accepted students into registered students, University Computing now provides WestConnduit accounts to accepted students who have paid their admissions deposit. Students can view the status of their admissions, health services, and financial aid requirements, as well as academic placement scores. Additionally, students can begin to get a feel for the WestConn community by reading the announcements posted there.
Continued Enhancement of our Participation in New Student Orientation
University Computing developed a web application for faculty advisors to look up critical student information during orientation. This is part of an effort by University Computing to make up-to-the-minute information available electronically instead of on paper, which may be several days old. In the past, this information was not even available in a single place—now it is available on a single web page.
Continued Community Outreach
For 20 years, University Computing has been an active participant in the annual Science Horizons regional Science Fair. UC handles the registering of participants, tallying of scores, printing of certificates, and producing myriad reports. Custom-developed software and a wireless LAN network are used to mange all processes.