Technology council plans to sharpen GW’s edge

The newly-formed subcommittees of the Informational Technology Advisory Council are considering recommendations to improve GW computer services and Internet capabilities, which will be offered to the University this semester.

The council, which incorporates input from faculty, administrators and students, aims to help GW sharpen its technological edge.

First-rate technology will “allow the University to maintain and enhance its position as one of the nation’s leading research and educational institutions,” writes Douglas Gale, assistant vice president for Information Systems and Services, which oversees ITAC, on his Web site.

The Information Technology Policy and Systems subcommittee plans to concentrate on infrastructure, such as the fiber optic network that will give rooms in all residence halls and academic buildings Internet access.

Last semester, the subcommittee helped implement the wiring of some residence and academic halls, said Helmut Haberzettl, chair of the subcommittee and director of the GW Center for Nuclear Studies. Use of fiber optic cables instead of copper wiring also was recommended by the policy subcommittee.

The Research and Instructional Technology subcommittee, which is responsible for technology areas like student computer labs and technical support, plans to make recommendations by April or May to the council, said Fred Joutz, subcommittee chair and associate professor of economics.

The research subcommittee will assess the costs and benefits incurred since last spring, Joutz said.

He said he believes about $2.5 million per year has been allotted for labs and support, but that this figure could be higher. He also said the subcommittee will weigh options independently of the funds currently allocated.

“We’re trying to get a feel for where the University is,” Joutz said.

The third subcommittee, Administrative Systems, will recommend enhancements to administrative software which facilitates services like payroll, accounting and registration.

The group has existence since the BANNER software system was implemented five years ago. It has undergone several name changes under different governing groups, but its function has remained unaltered, said Norayr Khatcheressian, chair of the Administrative Systems subcommittee and associate dean of the Colombian School of Arts and Sciences.

Recent results of the Administrative Systems’ recommendations include the replacement of the old server with a new four-processor machine that helps process administrative services faster, Khatcheressian said.

In February, the University is expected to receive another four-processor machine, which will expedite the payroll, financial aid and registration processes, Khatcheressian said.

The subcommittee has started installing the BANNER system on the Internet and updating the GWizard kiosks around campus. Students and faculty will gain online access to information, including class schedules. The system will be finished in three to four years, depending on the completion of the fiber optic network, Khatcheressian said.

In addition, the three subcommittees have been instrumental to keeping the University on the peak of technology by recommending the installation of a new computer lab in Gelman Library over the summer and other infrastructure enhancements, said Walter Bortz, vice president for administration and information services and Vice President of Academic Affairs Donald Lehman, both members of ITAC.

Bortz said ITAC is a grassroots group that offers the best information from a broad base of people who will be affected by the changes – the faculty and students.

ITAC filters suggestions from the subcommittee members to Bortz and Lehman, who in turn help to implement the recommendations. Updates on recommendations of ITAC soon will be available on the council’s new Web site, said William Parke, chair of ITAC and an associate professor of physics.

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