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Information Technology

Permanent password:  Immediate access to a password that’ll stay with students has resulted in a better new student experience.

New students understandably want to get going in their studies as soon as possible. So as soon as a new student’s data was recorded in SunGard Banner, its ERP system, NorthWest Arkansas Community College issued a temporary password providing access to an online portal with class information, registration capabilities, and so on.

Like many institutions, Murray State University (Ky.) paid a vendor to back up its data regularly and store it off-site for retrieval in case a disaster struck campus and wiped out hard drives and servers. But university administrators found the service lacking for a variety of reasons: It was pricey in lean times, recovering information was too lengthy a process, and effective testing was practically nonexistent.

You can’t just toss an old computer into the corner trash can when it has outlived its usefulness.

Because of the environmental issues involved, special care must be taken in disposing of such equipment. Often, that involves paying for proper disposal. If you do choose to trash aging PCs in a Dumpster, you need to wipe any sensitive data from each one’s hard drive for security and privacy reasons.

You need something done. What are you told?

“Fill out a form.”

Western Washington University officials figured there had to be a better way. The use of hard-copy forms to request services, they believed, was a waste of paper and time, as the requisitions had to be sent via campus mail to the appropriate parties, who in turn had to review, copy, and file them. Each person in the approval chain needed his or her own copy, and there was no central repository where the forms could be accessed easily.

The iTunes generation is used to buying music, watching television, and playing video games on screens perched in their laps, not going to record stores, student lounges, or mall arcades. Getting all of that information from faraway servers to laptop computers places an enormous burden on campus networking resources and IT departments, many of which are underfunded and understaffed, yet are expected to meet students’ expectations of ever quicker access to entertainment.

A funny thing happened to the College of William & Mary (Va.) on its way to a more efficient way to determine each of its undergraduate students’ home address.

Dreading the implementation of the solution agreed upon, college officials instead found efficiencies in the process of working together to solve the problem.

College campuses are typically beautiful places. Tree-lined walkways, verdant quads, and stately buildings make for a pleasant place to take a walk.

But for staff at the University of St. Francis (Ill.), too many campus strolls took up time that could be better spent on other tasks - such as tending to prospective students. And the paper files they were delivering from office to office belied the university’s commitment to environmentalism.

As far back as 1995, Sacred Heart University (Conn.) was requiring all full-time undergraduates to purchase a laptop; as early as 2002, Sacred Heart students, faculty, and staff enjoyed campuswide Wi-Fi.

Yet this self-described “pioneer in mobile computing” spent years outsourcing technical support to an off-campus call center.

Limited hours of operation, unpredictable wait times, and lackluster customer service frustrated university officials; the expense and lack of reliability and accountability were drags on the institution’s bottom line.

Student-athletes face the daunting task of keeping up with their studies while also devoting considerable time to practicing, competing, and traveling. That pressure extends upward to coaches, administrators, and faculty members, who are required to assess student progress and make adjustments amidst wildly varying schedules.

There were any number of reasons why The George Washington University needed to automate the way it paid stipends to the thousands of students who work there as tutors, teachers, researchers, or facilitators.