Standard Five - Library and Information Resources

Library

The Stewart Library helps prepare students to go out into the world ready for success. It provides the Weber State University community with innovative and high-quality resources, services, and programs including:

  • 24/7 access to more than 53,000 electronic resources
  • 552,323 bound volumes and 9337 electronic books
  • 22,000 audio and video titles
  • 66,275 maps
  • 611,326 microform units
  • online and on-site information literacy classes 
  • on-site and online reference and research assistance

Standard 5.A - Purpose and Scope

Overview

The Stewart Library provides a broad range of information resources and services in support of WSU’s mission and goals. Library services are provided at both the Ogden and Davis campuses. Off-campus access to resources and services is available 24/7 through the library’s website.

Collections include print, electronic, and audio-visual resources as well as access to an increasingly large number of electronic databases, books, and journals. A staff of 40.35 FTE plus approximately 15 FTE student assistants provides library services to the university community.

Day, evening, and weekend hours are maintained to accommodate patron needs at both campuses. The Stewart Library is open 105 hours per week; the WSU Davis library is open 75 hours per week. Reduced hours are in effect throughout summer semester and during semester breaks. The library and its resources are open to the public. Borrowing privileges are available to members of the community through the purchase of a Community Borrower’s Card.

Mission and Goals

The Stewart Library’s mission is to:

  1. Advance the teaching, research, and community service mission of WSU through the development of on-site collections, access to off-site resources, personalized assistance in the use of library and information resources, and instruction on research strategies and tools, and
  2. Assess the services we provide and the relevancy and use of the collections and utilize assessment outcomes to continually improve our resources and services.

In support of WSU’s mission to offer associate, baccalaureate and master degree programs in a broad variety of liberal arts, sciences, technical and professional fields, the library has adopted the following ongoing goals:

  • Continue to improve the quality and relevancy of the collection by systematically assessing the information resource needs of the university community and developing a collection of electronic and print resources that support instructional and research needs.
  • Enhance access to information resources by subscribing to electronic databases and full-text journals and, in consultation with faculty, cancel print subscriptions for titles available full-text online.
  • Provide a comprehensive information literacy instruction program that includes for credit, online, and on-demand instruction in order to graduate students with information literacy competencies and skills that promote life-long learning.
  • Augment the library’s budget by continuing to increase private donations.

Strategic Initiatives on which we will focus during the next two years include:

  • Complete the development of the new core curriculum for the Information Navigator course. Beta test the new course Spring Semester 2010. Make necessary changes based on the results of the beta test, and begin teaching the new curriculum in Fall 2011.
  • Expand digital access to our special collections and primary source material, including oral histories.
  • Complete a work-flow analysis of our Technical Service area and begin implementing new procedures to increase efficiency and more fully utilize the capabilities of the Horizon ILS system.
  • Establish a Friends of the Library Board comprised of individuals willing to accept a fund raising role.

Significant Changes Since 2004

Although our mission and primary goals have not changed, a number of other important changes have occurred:

  • A $2.1 million renovation created a new entrance to the Stewart Library and enabled us to relocate the Circulation Desk and consolidate Circulation Services. This change provides significantly better access to Circulation, Media/Reserve, and Interlibrary Loans.
  • Redesigned our website to make it more intuitive and user friendly and instituted ongoing usability studies.
  • Created a “Resource Commons” area with approximately 20 computers, a printer, scanner, and 3 group study rooms. This area is heavily used and student response has been very positive.
  • Began digitizing our unique collections and adding them to our website http://librarydigitalcollections.weber.edu/
  • Completed the construction of a new multi-media classroom with 30 iMac workstations. (This is the fourth multi-media classroom in the library. The classrooms are used for library classes and are available for classes taught by faculty in other academic departments.)
  • Redesigned the scope and format of the instruction sessions we provide for English 2010 and FYE classes and began the process of redesigning our for-credit courses. The redesign of LIBS /BSAD 2704 (Information Resources in the Business Disciplines) and LIBS 2804 (Information Resources in the Social Sciences) has been completed; the redesign of LIBS 1704 (Information Navigator) and LIBS 1115 (Humanities on the Internet) will be completed within the next year.
  • Reconfigured the Reference & Information Services area to make it more inviting and open. Opening the area up enabled us to increase study space and add additional public workstations. All the R&IS computers were replaced with iMacs with 24" monitors, which the students like very much.
  • Through the generosity of donors, created three named donor rooms: the Thomas D. Dee Reading Room in Special Collections, the Hetzel-Hoellein Meeting Room, which is used by the library and the campus for lectures, meetings, and classes, and the William and Amanda Waterstradt Seminar Room, which accommodates seminar-sized classes of up to 14 students. The meeting room and the seminar room are fully equipped for multi-media presentations.

Standard 5.B - Information Resources and Services

Based on feedback obtained from focus groups, surveys, and interviews with WSU students and faculty, library resources and services are now adequate to support the university’s curricular offerings. However, as the campus increases the number of graduate programs it offers and places a greater emphasis on faculty and undergraduate research, more specialized, research level materials will be needed. To provide access to them will require additional funding.

Library Holdings

  2008/2009 2007/2008 2006/2007 2005/2006 2004/2005
Bound Volumes* 552,323 547,753 540,613 533,759 525,106
Electronic Resources 53,031 31,119 23,312 17,632 16,824
Journals (Current Print Subscriptions) 1,175 1,544 1,555 1,711 1,716
Government Pub. (Unbound) 225,369 224,637 222,247 221,283 208,676
Audio Recordings 8,746 8,720 8,578 8,477 8,469
Video Recordings 11,708 11,360 10,685 9,946 9,461
Maps 66,275 66,205 66,240 65,675 65,151
Microforms (Fiche and Film) 611,275 605,467 587,794 579,349 605,175
Kits 623 616 639 610 614
CD-ROMS 1,809 1,687 1,445 1,458 1,449

*Includes books, bound periodicals and bound Government Documents.

Policies and procedures for systematic development and management of information resources in all formats are available on the library’s website. These policies and procedures are regularly reviewed and updated. To view the Collection Management Policy go to: http://library.weber.edu/libadmin/lppm/collec_manag_policy.cfm

Electronic full-text is now our preferred method of providing journal articles, newspapers, and reference materials to library patrons. In 1997-98, the Utah legislature provided $900,000 of ongoing funds to the Utah Academic Library Consortium (UALC) for subscriptions to electronic databases. This funding provides students and faculty within the Utah system with access to a continually increasing number of electronic full-text titles. Consortium funding of electronic resources has enabled the library to use funds previously spent on database subscriptions to acquire additional electronic and print resources and to make funds available to new faculty to secure core titles in their areas of interest.

As part of its ongoing transition to a more digitized library, the library continues to increase its reliance on electronic full-text journals, supplemented by rapid document delivery for articles not available otherwise. It continues to monitor carefully the use of print subscriptions and, in consultation with academic departments, cancel titles that are not being used or are available electronically.

To ensure that the online and on-site resources added to the collection are relevant to curricular needs, a librarian is assigned to each college. Subject librarians are responsible for consulting regularly with faculty and students in their assigned subject areas to assess instructional and research needs and to collaborate with faculty in developing the collection. Assessment data and anecdotal information indicate that as a result of librarian/faculty collaboration, the collection is increasingly stronger, more focused and relevant to curricular and research needs.

Library Services

Both the Stewart Library and the Information Commons area of WSU Davis provide students and faculty with the full-range of services expected of any academic library, including expert reference assistance and information literacy instruction.

The purpose of our information literacy program, which was nationally recognized by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), is to provide students with the skills and knowledge needed to effectively identify, locate, evaluate, and use information for academic success and to support lifelong learning - in other words, to enable students to become independent users of library and information resources. All WSU students are required to demonstrate computer and information literacy competency. The information literacy component of this requirement may be met by taking one of the library’s for-credit courses or a competency exam.

In addition to its for-credit courses, the library provides approximately 140 instruction sessions each year for English 2010 and First Year Experience (FYE) classes as well as course-integrated, subject-specific sessions. Students in the English 2010 and FYE sessions complete an assignment demonstrating their ability to effectively use library databases and internet resources. An increasing number of senior-level capstone courses also include an information literacy component and assessment on information literacy.

Along with their collection management and faculty liaison responsibilities, subject librarians provide course-integrated instruction to inform students and faculty of library resources available in their areas of interest, which we believe is essential if those resources are to be used. Academic faculty and librarians collaborate on the information to be covered in these sessions and students demonstrate their ability to use the resources in their required research papers. The number of course-integrated sessions varies from year to year depending upon the courses taught. However, given the very positive response from faculty during this past year and the increase in the number of courses requiring students to write research papers, an annual growth rate of approximately 10% is expected for the next two to three years.

Standard 5.C - Facilities and Access

The facilities at both WSU Ogden and WSU Davis are pleasant, inviting, and adequate for information resources, equipment, and personnel. The Stewart Library is centrally located at WSU Ogden within easy walking distance of classrooms and parking lots, and the Information Commons at WSU Davis is a state-of-the-art facility ideally located to serve students and faculty. Both meet ADA requirements, are adequately wired to support library technology, and are “wireless” to support the computing needs of students with laptops. Electronic access to library resources and services is available to WSU students and faculty anytime, anywhere.

A $2.1 million renovation of the Stewart Library completed in October 2006 created a new entrance by enclosing an unsightly breezeway that had separated the north and south wings of the building. The new entrance, staircase, and atrium enhance the appearance of the library and, with the relocation of the Circulation Desk to the lower level and the consolidation of Circulation Services (Circulation, Media, Reserve, and Interlibrary Loans), access to these services is much improved.

Utilization of Information Resources and Services

The library’s resources and services continue to be well-used. The use of online resources is reflected in the number of visitor sessions on our website, totaling more than two million sessions during the past year. Contrary to the decline other academic libraries in Utah are experiencing, the use of our book collection continues to remain stable. While the number of “user assistance” types of questions answered at the various service desks rose, the number of reference/research questions answered continues to decline. We attribute this to an easier, more stable method of off-campus access and increased student familiarity with using technology to access library resources. Enrollment in our online course, the Information Navigator, continues to increase. To meet this demand, we are offering more online sections and fewer face-to-face sections.

  2008/2009 2007/2008 2006/2007 2005/2006 2004/2005
Circulation Statistics: 100,315 128,784 130,415 106,126 116,933
           
Web Site Visitor Sessions: 2,080,920 2,064,338 2,241,126 1,986,294 1,579348
Reference/Research Assist:          
     No. of Questions 10,153 9,339 13,290 15,478 13,501
User Assistance:          
     No. of Questions 30,068 31,898 35,002 44,763 33,733
           
Instructional Sessions: Sessions Students Sessions Students Sessions Students Sessions Students Sessions Students
     Course Integrated 110 1,175 101 1,421 100 1,945 145 2,161 103 1,828
     English 1010 & 2010 108 1,898 120 2,382 122 2,301 125 2,646 111 2,399
     FYE (First Year Exp.) 16 225 19 354 19 349 21 443 21 374
     Other 32 247 38 410 49 968 30 350 14 231
Totals: 266 4,145 276 4,567 290 5,363 321 5,600 249 4,832
                     
For Credit Classes Classes Students Classes Students Classes Students Classes Students Classes Students
     Hum. on the Internet         1 30        
     Information Navigator 40 1,998 39 1,838 40 1,953 41 2,154 29 2,035
     Library Skills     1 29 4 89 4 98 8 210
     Info. Resource (Bus.) 4 144 5 102 5 84 2 79 2 64
     Info. Resource (SocSci) 2 27 1 27 2 28 2 34 1 18
Totals: 46 2,189 46 1,996 62 2,483 49 2,365 40 2,327
           
Ereserve Page Visitors: 24,658 24,416 37,605 46,308 42,007
Interlibrary Loan:          
     Lending Requests 7,002 7,473 8,077 8,905 9,896
     Borrowing Requests 4,826 8,519 5,821 6,208 4,856

Cooperative Arrangements

The library continues to have a number of cooperative arrangements with other libraries and networks including the Utah Academic Library Consortium (UALC), which now includes several Nevada academic libraries, the Bibliographic Center for Research, the AMIGOS Library Network, and the OCLC. All of these arrangements enhance our resources and services.

Standard 5.D - Personnel and Management

With 40.35 FTE faculty and staff and approximately 15 FTE student assistants, staffing is minimally sufficient to provide the quality and quantity of library services needed to support the information resources and service needs of the university community. Due to recent budget reductions, we have not been able to fill several vacant positions. Our goal is to fill these positions within the next two years.

Library faculty and staff are well trained, have expertise in their areas of responsibility, and are committed to providing quality library services to the university community. All have current and accurate position descriptions in which authority, responsibility, and expectations are clearly delineated. All faculty and staff are reviewed annually and mutually agreed-upon goals are set for the following year. Ongoing training and professional development are essential, and resources are allocated to support the costs associated with improving the knowledge and skills of faculty and staff. In any given year, over 96% of the library faculty and staff will attend conferences, workshops, and seminars. Satisfaction data indicate a high level of student and faculty satisfaction with the quality of assistance provided by library faculty and staff.

As a unit within the Academic Affairs Division, reporting to the Provost, the library is involved in institutional planning. Library faculty serve on the Faculty Senate and on university committees. The University Librarian sits on the Deans’ Council and is a member of a number of university committees. Subject librarians regularly communicate with faculty and students in the academic departments for which they have collection management/faculty liaison responsibilities and serve as advocates for the information resource needs of those colleges/departments.

Since 1996, the institutional curricular planning process has included mandatory consultation with the library. Subject librarians review all new course/program proposals in their subject areas to assess the adequacy of information resources to support the new course/program prior to its approval by the Curriculum and General Education Committee. On those rare occasions when resources are determined to be inadequate, library funds are allocated to acquire the needed materials prior to the time the new course is taught.

Excellent working relationships exist between the library and other departments on campus. As information resources are increasingly web-based, the library works closely with departments located in the Information Technology Division and relies heavily on the strong support it receives from those departments.

Library Budget

The library receives operating funds from three sources:

  • E&G monies allocated to WSU, both ongoing and one-time
  • State monies allocated to the Utah Academic Library Consortium (UALC)
  • Gifts

  2008/2009 2007/2008 2006/2007 2005/2006 2004/2005
E & G Base:          
  Salaries 1,647,987 1,618,452 1,609,192 1,560,037 1,520,444
  Info. Resources 957,785 902,735 902,735 902,735 902,735
  Operations 153,935 50,000 50,000 50,000 50,000
  Hrly Wages 49,962 49,259 79,259 85,144 75,820
  Travel 0 0 0 0 0
  Benefits 729,361 720,809 714,782 661,886 638,505
  Total: 3,539,031 3,341,255 3,355,968 3,259,802 3,187,504
UALC          
  Ongoing 206,440 215,040 215,040 219,204 219,204
  Total:          
  Grants: 53,500 63,634 25,764 21,824 20,430
  Gifts: 459,000 459,000 574,526 1,222,617 390,254
  Total: 4,213,856 4,078,929 4,171,298 4,723,447 3,817,392

Currently, the library’s overall budget (E&G, UALC funding, and gifts) is minimally adequate to meet current basic operational needs. Despite repeated E&G budget cuts, the ongoing generosity of donors has enabled the library to sustain the amount of funding available for information resources. We will continue to work closely with our donors and as the economy improves, hope they will be able to continue to support the library.

Standard 5.E - Planning and Evaluation

We remain committed to assessing the quality of our resources and services and making improvements based on the information received from our assessment efforts.

The Noel-Levitz Student Satisfaction Inventory (SSI), which WSU administers periodically to approximately 1,000 students, includes two statements relevant to the library: “Library staff are helpful and approachable,” and “Library resources and services are adequate.” Based on a Likert scale, trend data indicate students’ satisfaction levels with library resources and services continue to increase.

Results from interviews conducted in 2007/08 with students who were using the library continue to indicate strong satisfaction with library resources and services. Approximately 94% of the 125 students interviewed said they were satisfied with both the assistance they received and the resources available to them. Suggestions for improvement included extending hours during finals week, creating additional quiet study areas, adding more computers in the Resource Commons and upper level, extending check-out time for laptops, providing document delivery service for graduate students, and reducing or eliminating overdue fines. With the exception of reducing or eliminating overdue fines, all of these suggestions have been implemented.

Student evaluations are collected for all library courses, for the sessions provided for English 2010 and FYE classes, and for a representative number of subject-specific sessions. In 2008-09, 96% of students surveyed in English Composition and First Year Experience courses indicated satisfaction with the course-integrated instruction provided by library faculty and staff.

Consistent with the student feedback, the results of our surveys and interviews with faculty, as well as statements included in departmental program reviews, indicate overall satisfaction with library resources to support their teaching, and with the knowledge, efficiency, and helpfulness of library staff. However, a number of faculty have expressed concern over the impact budget cuts will have on the library’s ability to provide access to information resources supporting faculty and student research.

The library routinely uses students, faculty, and its Friends of the Library Advisory Board as focus groups to assess and help improve specific services. A recent example is usability testing of our website. Focus groups provided important input on what they didn’t like about our old site and that information was used in developing the new site. Focus group testing of the new site resulted in additional improvements that made the site more intuitive, user friendly, and graphically pleasing.

Information Resources

Purpose/Description

Overview (5.A)

The Division of Information Technology came into being in 1994 with the hiring of the first Chief Information Officer. This was one of the primary recommendations of the Edutech consultants hired in 1993 to help plan and prepare for the next wave of technological change. Fifteen years later, it is clear that information technology will continue to be a significant force in 21st century higher education.

Organized in 1994 to provide centralized support for critical information technology services, the IT division was formed by bringing all but one of the existing technology support departments together under one administrative structure. These included:

The lone exception was Electronic Systems & Repair, which remains in Facilities Management. Electronic Systems & Repair staff maintains the physical properties of the telephone and data networks and performs limited desktop computer repairs, both as "charge-back" services.

In 2009, the IT Division is now comprised of the following:

One of the major trends driving these changes was the gradual evolution of higher education computing from the centralized academic computing models of the 1970s and 1980s to the decentralized desktop computing model of the 1990s. Today, support for Academic computing resides in the colleges, with WSU Online and with Student Life in the management of the open student labs.

Mission and Goals

Since 1994, the IT division’s mission and goals have evolved within a participatory planning process involving students, faculty, staff, and administrators. The current mission and goal statements are from the 2008 IT Planning Cycle. The IT division’s mission and vision are:

Mission: "Provide information technology services and solutions to our University community securely and reliably.”

Vision – Customer Service Focused:
The Information Technology division envisions an environment wherein:

  • A full range of information services are available on demand, without regard to time or place.
  • Faculty and students are provided technology services which enable them to enjoy the best possible academic experience on campus and on-line.
  • Quality technology services are delivered with the end-user as the focus. End user expectations are appropriately managed and met in a timely manner.
  • Emerging technologies and innovative solutions are considered in response to changes in University community needs and expectations.
  • Technology services are reliable and secure.
  • IT works in partnership with the University community to understand and align with the campus goals and strategies.

Beginning in summer of 2008 a group named the Information Technology Advisory Council (ITAC) was created. This council is a planning and policy advisory council composed of a diversified group of academic and administrative technology users appointed by the President. Considering the mission of the University, and the needs of all administrative, academic and research users, the committee continually discusses, proposes, advocates, and reviews short and long term initiatives for information technology. A key aspect of efficient information technology is a campus-wide strategic and financial plan for information technology systems, network and infrastructure. This year, ITAC created a method for evaluating, prioritizing and recommending new IT projects to the President’s Council for their review, financial support (where necessary) and final approval of priority.

Resources & Services (5.B)

Our primary information technology support resource is the highly qualified professional staff of the IT division. In a decade of generally declining resources, the number of professional IT staff has grown from 25 in 1993 to 45 in 2003. This has been accomplished through careful planning and reallocation of resources, including reassignment of some positions from other administrative units. Administrative overhead has been kept to minimum, with only the VP, the Associate VP and two classified support staff in the VP office, and the nine managers/directors of the IT departments. In 2003, after the retirement of a long-term employee, an additional consolidation reduced the number of managers to five. Competitive searches following resignations and retirements have raised both the overall skill-set quality and salaries of the IT professional staff. Similar to other universities across the nation, 2008 was a down year for budgets. The head count in the division shrank from a high of 60 to the present number of 49 with four unfilled positions, pending further budgetary issues.

An important IT support resource is the quality of our data/telephone network. Three phases of the data network development plan begun in 1995 have been completed. Students, faculty, staff, and administrators currently enjoy the benefits of a highly reliable fiber optic-based Switched Fast Ethernet (Gigabit) data network among all major buildings. In 2003, approximately 24% of the Ogden campus offered wireless connectivity. Now in 2009, virtually 100% of the campus is wireless. WSU Davis has complete wireless access in addition to numerous high-speed, hard-wired connections. A plan to provide disaster recovery and business continuity is well under way at a Utah state owned data center site in Richfield, Utah. By the end of this year it is expected that all of the necessary resources will be in place to begin testing the disaster recovery services.

The digital telephone network includes many advanced features including a message management system that combines voice and data messages. Telephone rates charged to the departments are the lowest in the Utah System of Higher Education for both equipment and services. Recently the Avaya system was upgraded to provide even more Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) services to the entire campus.

Another important resource is the Utah Education Network (UEN). UEN provides and maintains our access to the internet and other electronic resources. Working with UEN engineers; we have been able to identify and implement creative solutions to network access problems. For example, integration of the WSU Davis and WSU Ogden networks was accomplished through cooperative efforts among WSU, UEN, and the telecommunications provider.

Weber continues to build on the SunGard Banner finance, human resource, student, and alumni/development systems to provide a level of data integration well beyond that of the previous software. This includes combined functionality with the Luminis portal and Blackboard Vista learning management system.

Utilization of IT Resources & Services

Central computing facilities for students, faculty, and staff boast excess capacity, resulting in few, if any, user complaints. Network bandwidth is carefully monitored and controlled so that overall usage is generally less than 25% of capacity. Other centralized resources, including mainframe computing resources and expensive software (e.g., Oracle database), are more than adequate with usage rarely exceeding 15% of capacity. In addition, WSU is an affiliate member of the Internet2 Consortium, which provides virtually unlimited high performance computing and networking capabilities to science faculty and students.

Decentralized computing facilities have grown significantly over the past ten years. The first multimedia-equipped classroom was created at WSU Ogden in 1993. As of 2009 there are now over 200 multimedia equipped classrooms among all WSU campuses. Many are heavily scheduled, several additionally providing student computers for in class student instruction.

The total number of desktop computers has increased significantly. In 2003, Property Control reported approximately 2,500 desktop computers, including 400 in open student computer labs and 450 in almost 20 departmental computer labs. In 2009, Technology Services reports that the number of computers across campus is over 3000+, including over 525 desktop and laptop computers in 13 open student computer lab locations. The ability for Apple systems to run both the Mac and Windows operating system has sparked an increase in the number of Macs being used across campus in faculty and staff offices as well as the student labs.

Computing support is provided through a combination of mechanisms. The Technology Services professional staff is comprised of seven individuals and a manager. However, they work cooperatively with the academic colleges, four out of seven of which have at least one dedicated technical support person. Technical workshops are offered regularly by Multimedia Services in a wide variety of software packages and applications. In addition, the IT Service Desk is staffed by trained undergraduate students who are certified at different levels of training and experience. In addition to staffing the Service Desk, these "student techs" also go to individual faculty and staff offices to help resolve computer problems. The response time on any particular problem rarely exceeds 24 hours.

Facilities and Access (5.C)

In addition to the multimedia classrooms described in the preceding section, current facilities include attractive and functional open and departmental student computer labs, an open faculty experimental computer lab, and two attractive dedicated training facilities equipped with the latest multimedia equipment. Almost all are ADA accessible. WSU Davis includes a state-of-the-art technology commons that is physically isolated from the rest of the building for 24-hour access when need and resources require and allow.

Funding, programming, and architect/contractor selection were completed in 2003 and construction initiated for a new technology center in Lampros Hall at WSU Ogden. This brought together a combination of student and faculty technology support elements, including an open student lab, additional testing center, faculty experimental facilities, and Technology Services and WSU Online support staff.

"Virtual" information technology facilities are provided through a combination of sophisticated databases, networks, and software tools. For example, our highly successful online university, WSU Online, is a complete virtual university environment including tools for instructional development/presentation, tracking, testing, and grading student progress. Because it has proven so successful (with approximately 8,000 class enrollments in spring 2003 approximately 12,000 class enrollments in spring 2009), it outgrew its humble homegrown beginnings. In spring 2003, the university began migration to the commercially developed and supported WebCT Vista learning management system. Blackboard took over WebCT in 2006; that transition has presented some challenges, but the university is currently using Blackboard Vista, version 4.2.3 with plans to upgrade to version 8.03 in August, 2009.

Other virtual facilities are provided through the combination of integrated electronic messaging systems (including lifetime e-mail accounts for students, faculty, staff, and alumni), student and faculty/staff "portals," numerous web-based, self-service applications, and new web-based administrative software. Just a few examples of the impacts of these heavily used systems include:

  • Availability of a "Direct to the Web" personalized web page for prospective students
  • Most students are now admitted and register online
  • Grades (both submission by faculty and distribution to students) are now totally online

Personnel, Management Planning (5.D.1, 5.D.2, 5.D.3, 5.D.4, 5.D.5,5.E.1, 5.E.2)

As indicated earlier, the IT division is responsible for university-wide information technology support, including:

  • Administrative systems
  • Telephone network
  • Data network
  • Internet access
  • Online services
  • Multimedia support
  • IT Service Desk
  • General computing support

In general, schools, colleges, divisions, and programs are responsible for acquiring information technology resources for their individual units, with assistance from the IT division only as needed. Therefore, our IT plan focuses primarily on university-wide IT services and issues.

Effective use of information technology requires qualified and dedicated professional staff capable of combining the various elements required to provide services and functionality. Our IT professional staff is constantly engaged in professional development activities of various kinds. These include professional certifications, training and seminars, online instruction, and professional conference attendance. With a focus on implementing Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) best practices across the IT Division, we have certified most IT staff at the ITIL Foundations level, and continue to focus on ITIL standard implementation. IT staff strive to assure high levels and quality of service while constantly working to improve the technical base and keep it solid. They have exhibited success in positioning to anticipate and accommodate change while discontinuing obsolete technologies and services that are no longer needed.

From a formal organization and planning perspective, the IT division works closely with the faculty Academic Resources and Computing Committee (ARCC) on academic computing issues, the Campus Technology Coordinators (CTC) for campus wide computing support and the Information Technology Advisory Committee (ITAC) on prioritizing university computing projects. The VP of Information Technology chairs the IT council, which meets monthly. It includes representatives from ARCC, WSU Online, and the IT division directors and managers. The VP of IT is a member of President’s Council and serves as liaison between the various groups.

Information Technology Budget (5.D.6)

The IT division receives operating funds from five sources:

  • State-appropriated E&G funds (79.3 %)
  • Telecommunications self-support revenues (8.8 %)
  • A portion of the WSU Online course delivery fee (7.7 %)
  • The Higher Education Technology Infrastructure (4.0 %)
  • Overhead cost recovery fees (.3 %)

Since 1993, the IT division budget has doubled, from approximately $2.3 million to approximately $4.6 million.

As indicated, since we are not a research university, revenue from overhead cost recovery, the largest increases have come from the online course delivery fee (which did not exist prior to 1997 and is being used to fund our online learning management system) and a dedicated tier two student tuition increase (initiated in 2000 and used to fund most of our new web-based "self-service" administrative systems).

Our IT budget is less than the Gartner-recommended 5% of the overall institutional budget for an institution of this size. However, it is better than all but the research universities in the Utah System of Higher Education.

Assessment of Resources and Services (5.E.3.)

Our most important assessment efforts are those that occur as part of the ongoing IT planning process. Most frequently, specific student, faculty, or administrative groups are assembled to provide input into current plans. For example, we worked closely with student government leaders and other representatives in the selection and implementation of a student portal. This included discussion before the Student Senate, vendor demonstrations, and solicited feedback. These settings provide opportunities for comments on both current services and future plans.

Technical resource evaluations take place on a regular basis. For example, technical tests are applied periodically to ensure that firewall protection of our data network is functioning properly and the safeguards protecting sensitive data are doing their job. Other technical evaluations are used to determine network load patterns and usage levels by constituents. During peak processing times (e.g., the first two days of open registration for any given semester), usage levels and response times are monitored more or less continuously.

Adjustments in system parameters are made as needed to ensure user needs are being met. Several times in the past eight years, new hardware was acquired when it was clear that increased usage had exceeded, or was about to exceed, system capacity.

Continuous feedback is solicited from IT division web sites and eBulletin announcements. User comments are usually responded to within a few hours, but in no case more than 24 hours. Electronic feedback works extremely well for us because it is spontaneous and immediate. Issues that surface are addressed without delay while they are fresh and most pertinent to those concerned.

In 2007 the IT Service Desk implemented TechExcel as the tracking software for work orders and customer support. This software is very complex and multi-faceted and has given the IT Service Desk the ability to better track the progress and completion of work orders for campus employees. Regularly the IT Service Desk sends out surveys to campus asking for feedback on the work performed. The feedback is very helpful in identifying areas of customer service concerns. Service Open meetings and focus groups are held each semester to solicit comments and suggestions from faculty and staff. These have proven less effective and are not generally well attended in the absence of a crisis or specific problem. As was indicated earlier, the nature of information technology is that if it is working, people generally take it for granted. When it is not, the level of interest spikes momentarily but quickly recedes as soon as the present problem is resolved.