Information Technology Committee


November 8, 2002


Present:  Lowell Ballard, Alison Baker, Max Bassett, Lynn Bowers, Ron Buchanan, Art Cavanagh, Gen Chu, William Gary, Debbie Naquin, Steven Sachs (chair), Monica Sasscer, Lionel Sylvas


Absent:  Afsaneh Chamlou, Babara Saperstone


Guests:  Stacey Pendleton, Cathy Simpson



1.              Minutes of the May 24, 2002, meeting were approved.

2.              Dr. Sachs reviewed the Technology Plan budget and proposed changes brought about by the state budget crisis.  Approximately $433,000 was being held against possible future cuts and it appears that there may be an additional $29,000 in savings in other categories.  The College budget plan only requires that $400,000 be held in reserve at this time.  The ITC approved the following allocations of Technology Plan funds:  release the $25,000 in staff training funds (primarily for Windows/Office XP training), and allocate $30,000 to hire a P-14 to replace the vacant Applications Specialist position that is frozen at TAC.

3.              Dr. Sachs distributed and explained the College data for the VCCS Information Technology Total Cost of Ownership study.  The preliminary data indicates that the total cost of ownership is very close to the estimates on which technology budgets are based, and below state norms.  The total cost of ownership includes all computers, peripherals, network equipment, software and staff support.

4.              Useful life of PCs was discussed.  The VCCS definitions of hardware and software life were distributed.  A floor was established that by the end of Spring 2003, no computers less than a 350Mhz processor should be in use at the College.  Machines below the floor are over 5 years old and should be surplused and should not be retained or used.  The recent equipment survey indicated that we are purchasing many times more PCs this year than are below 350 Mhz, so replacing them should not be a problem.

5.              Dean Baker asked how we should use old laptops.  They should be dealt with on a case by case basis as to whether they can run the necessary software needed by the primary user.

6.              There was a discussion about the use of College email for promoting events.  The discussion was prompted by a recent promotion of a LO sing-along.  The beneficiary was a non-college group, but the group involved College faculty and staff.  College policy had been that email was not to be used to promote events—especially non-college events.  It was recommended by the ITC that Mrs. Wilhelmi’s staff work with the campus PIOs and Sue Davis to create and maintain an “events” web page and possibly one weekly email of coming events.  Intercom is the more appropriate medium for promotion—especially if it could also have a calendar of upcoming events.  The distinction is the use of email should be limited to business-related purposes and events rather than the promotion of activities or community-based promotion.  Dr. Sachs will also provide Provosts with an interim reminder about using email for promotion.  He will contact other institutions and draft a more formal policy for ITC review.

7.              Mr. Ballard gave a report on the status of the new Phone system.  It has been installed on four campuses; Annandale should be done by the end of November.  The Annandale cutover is expected the week of Thanksgiving.  Mr. Buchanan raised several issues about problems with the new phone system at Manassas.  The Campus Council was especially concerned with those involving security (e.g. panic buttons, credit card lines, police phones, alarms, etc.)  They requested dedicated phone company lines for these uses.  The plan for the phone system calls for these issues to be reviewed after the conversion and after determining that there is an operational need to convert them back to the phone company.  Mr. Ballard discussed steps that have been and are being taken to address Manassas’ concerns.  Malfunctions should be addressed and fixed immediately.  Vice President Baker needs to make the final decision on security issues.  Vice President Sachs, the acting-Provost and Mr. Ballard will try to resolve the other issues.  The same process will be followed on the other campuses as soon as the phone system conversion is complete.  It was felt that there should be a consistent college policy on what distinguished between a campus choice (and who should pay for it) vs. a special circumstance that the college should pay for.  Where there is disagreement the resolution should go to Dr. Sachs, then to the ITC, then to Administrative Council for final resolution if necessary.

There was discussion about who should pay for moves, adds, changes, and loss of phones in the new phone system after installation is complete—the campus or the college.  The current policy is that these are campus expenses.  The ITC decided not to change that policy at this time.

8.              Dr. Sachs gave an update on the new Student Information System.  Mrs. Naquin raised two issues of concern to faculty—access to student records for non-advisees and automatic blocks on registration based on placement test scores.  It now appears that the VCCS Technical Utility has solved the first problem regarding access to student records, and the SIS Implementation team has found a way to use placement test scores to block registrations as appropriate.  Dr. Sachs noted that support for the mainframe will end in September 2004, so it adds urgency to completing the conversion and for replacing the faculty information system as well as the student information system.

9.              The ITC went on record unanimously requesting the Mrs. Wilhelmi staff develop a generic message to replace the NOVA NOW jingle that plays while callers are on hold on the new phone system.  Mr. Ballard will also check on the volume of the current hold message—it is reported to be too loud.

10.           Dr. Sachs led a discussion on replacing individual printers with network printers.  This was a proposed cost-saving strategy from the Senate ad-hoc committee and Administrative Council.  He present figures on the approximate costs and potential savings.  The short-term cost was considerably more than the amount that could be saved.  However, over the long term there is savings on black and white printing.  Color printing costs about the same.  Where feasible, network printing should be encouraged and supported.  It is not feasible in some places where confidentiality or location make network printing impractical. The time to go to a central location to pick up printing from a printer may not always be insignificant for small jobs.  It was also suggested that the College should look at new digital technologies, which combine, printing and faxing on the same network device.  The savings that might be realized are not great enough to mandate a change at this time.  It is worth looking at more closely over the next several years.  The assumption is that the amount of printing done on individual printers is not excessive, so this is why cost savings are not greater.  Copy machines may be a bigger problem given the number of different machines, different purchase methods and different costs.  There may be greater savings possible by standardizing copy machines.