Information Technology looking for improvements

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    By EMILY SMURTHWAITE

    BYU administrators are continuing to change and improve the technology on campus.

    Eric Denna, vice president of Information Technology, said the motivation behind the improvements is to help make BYU more productive.

    “We ask ourselves how we can use technology to perform better,” Denna said.

    He said a new assistant technology vice president, Kelly McDonald, was appointed last week to further this cause.

    “My first responsibility is over all the technology at BYU. I also have a role in coordinating all the technology in church education,” Denna said. “Kelly was appointed as my vice-president so he could be in charge when I wasn’t available.”

    McDonald will continue working as the executive director of Information Technology in addition to his new position.

    McDonald’s appointment is just one part of the adjustments the technology department is undergoing. A future change could make computers a necessity.

    “One topic frequently discussed in the president’s council is when we’re going to require student ownership of a computer. It’s a big decision,” Denna said.

    This requirement is currently being tested on the law students, he said. If computers were required, students could purchase them at university prices through the BYU website.

    The information technology department is also working on putting scholarship applications, financial aid, advisement and other material on the Internet. This would give students access to information without the long lines and paperwork, Denna said.

    Other plans include consolidating the different types of hardware and servers on campus, he said. There are also plans to build a new campus data center.

    “It will be an underground facility where we have better security, fire protection and backup,” Denna said.

    Last year, Information Technology Services was created from the University Computing Services, Telecommunications Services and the Media Services, he said.

    Denna said there are six areas of service in the technology department: network and communication, access device management, workflow and information applications, teaching and learning applications, technology training and customer support. McDonald will work with Denna in administrating over all these areas.

    While there are many technological improvements underway, BYU isn’t the most technologically advanced campus, Denna said.

    Last year, Yahoo did a survey on the most wired campuses in the United States. The results, listed at www.zdnet.com/yil/content/college, showed that BYU came in 77th out of 200. According to the survey the most wired campus was Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

    “We’re more interested in wisely using tithing money than being the technology leader,” Denna said.

    According to the website, Case Western University has 41.2 computers per 100 students, their dorms are 100 percent wired and 67 percent of their computers have been bought recently. BYU has 8.23 computers per 100 students, 75 percent of the dorm rooms are wired and three percent of the computers have been bought recently.

    “(Case Western University) literally spends ten of millions of dollars on their technology. We’re not going to spend that much money per capita,” Denna said. “I’m intrigued at how much we can do with our money and be smart about it.”

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