Update on Department/Program Websites

2 04 2014

TAG member Teresa Conte attended the March 17 meeting of the Committee on University Image and Promotion (CUIP) for a discussion of PR’s Department and Program Website initiative (introduced in the notes from TAG’s February meeting). Here are some notes from Teresa about the project:

University of Scranton Website – Project Information and Update:

  • The University updated its general website in 2012-2013
  • The Committee on University Image and Promotion (CUIP) is overseeing the next phase of updating which is focusing on Department and Program webpages.
  • Because TAG had identified the older Department webpages as an issue that affects enrollment and program images, we have partnered with CUIP on this project and have been represented at CUIP meetings.
  • CUIP has secured a company (Converge) to write the updated web content.
  • CUIP met in March and the first 50 Programs were identified to be revised and updated. Eventually, every Department/Program will have their webpages updated. The goal for completion for the first part of the project (first 50 programs) is the Fall of 2014.
  • Once the content is written and approved, another company (search being conducted) will format and publish the content to the web.
  • Converge has developed a survey that departments will complete that will assist them in using the most updated information for this project. Departments/Programs are able to individualize their web content and select what they would like highlighted, and suggest media content and other pertinent information to be included in the update.
  • This project is of vital importance to the members of the University as there is a wealth of research that shows that more and more prospective students visit websites before committing to a campus visit. This makes the website the first impression for thousands of prospective students.


Update 2014-04-03: Dave Dzurec (who also attended the CUIP meeting) provided some notes to answer questions about the project:

Departments and programs still have ultimate control of the content. The hiring of the consulting firm came in part from a larger TAG discussion about the maintenance of department and program pages–and a request for greater support from the administration in maintaining these sites.  The consulting firm is aiding in the redesign of a number of program pages (initially 50 different programs selected by a joint TAG/CUIP committee). The redesign will be done in consultation with the program faculty (TAG has already reviewed a draft of the questionnaire that will be sent to the program directors/chairs) and then overseen by each department. At this point once the update is complete the program/department site update process will continue to function as it does now–that is individual staff and faculty members in each department will be responsible for updating the sites. The longer term hope is that the administration will hire someone to more actively assist department faculty and staff in keeping the sites up to date and navigating the joy that is the CMS.



TAG Meeting Notes 2014-02-12

14 02 2014

TAG Meeting February 12, 2014 12:00pm-1:00pm

Jeremy Brees, Tim Cannon, Paul Cutrufello, Kim Daniloski, Dave Dzurec, Eugeniu Grigorescu, Katie Iacocca, Andrew LaZella, Lori Nidoh, Kristen Yarmey

1. Brief Reports

Acceptable Use Policy

CIO Jerry DeSanto announced on February 6 that the new Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources Policy had been approved by the President’s Cabinet. The new policy is an update to the old Code of Responsible Computing. Many thanks to Jim Franceschelli and Dave Dzurec for co-chairing the committee charged with revision.

PR Department/Program Website initiative

Back in late November, Dave, Kim, and Kristen (along with Hal Baillie, Darla Germeroth, and Ray Schwenk) met with Gerry Zaboski and Lori Nidoh in PR to discuss department and program websites. Also in on the meeting (phoning in from Cedar Rapids) were representatives from Converge, a vendor that PR has hired to help us with initial planning and updates for departmental websites and academic program pages (note: *not* course catalog content/program descriptions, which require formal review).

The main goal from a faculty perspective is to develop content for department/program pages that is consistent across the University website and does a better job of communicating what it is that we do — reflecting the quality of our programs/departments, “telling the story” of the student educational experience, etc. (In 2012-2013 TAG had prepared a proposal for improving and maintaining department/program websites that advocated for additional support for this task.)

Briefly, Converge plans to 1) outline/inventory needed content, 2) do some search engine optimization research (e.g., what terms do users type in to Google when they’re looking for nursing programs?), 3) develop a draft template for page content, 4) get faculty feedback via a campus visit and questionnaire, 5) draft some copy, and 6) help us prepare a long term strategy. Their main output would be a consistent template for department/program pages, and they will create content for up to 50 department/program pages (though the institution has the final say on content). Gerry explained that this way we can get a lot of updates done quickly.

PR and Academic Affairs would like to bring together a steering committee or task force to coordinate this project, with work beginning in March. Gerry has broached this topic with the Committee on University Image and Promotion (CUIP), which includes faculty representatives.  After the November meeting, Kristen and Dave had asked TAG members to identify faculty who might be interested in serving on such a steering committee. Teresa, Sandy, and Dave then volunteered.  However, Lori noted that it has not yet been decided which program/department pages will be selected as the focus of the project, and she was not sure who will make that decision. We agreed that once these programs/departments have been selected, TAG will support the faculty representatives on CUIP in trying to recruit faculty volunteers to participate.


Desire2Learn went live in January, and so far the transition seems to be going smoothly (see the LMS transition page for details). About 30 faculty members opted to begin teaching in Desire2Learn in Spring 2014. Courses that are being taught in Desire2Learn have been disabled in ANGEL so that students don’t see them in both places.  Workshops and video tutorials are available for faculty.

Eugeniu reported that there was an issue with merging courses that CTLE wasn’t able to resolve in time for this semester, but it will be resolved in time for summer and fall courses. Another issue has been reported with links – Firefox and Chrome are problematic when trying to display unsecure pages within secure frames.

Mobile Apps

IR’s Mobile Apps feedback group met in December (pptx). Sandy attended as a faculty representative. The group reviewed the University’s current apps — ANGEL Mobile, eAccounts (for RoyalCard), the Straxis app, Student Services app, RoyalSync, and Desire2Learn (which also has two special purpose apps – Binder and Grader) — and discussed what additional features should be mobile accessible.  The Straxis app will be retired at the end of the year and replaced by a locally developed web app for the fall 2014 semester.

Royal Card

Faculty are reminded to visit the TSC to get a new RoyalCard. Take your old RoyalCard or a driver’s license, and you will be photographed.

Windows XP to 7 Conversions

(Jim was unable to attend the meeting but sent an update on this via email.) IT Services is continuing to work on converting all remaining Windows XP machines to Windows 7. Faculty machines are the current priority, with a goal of finishing all faculty conversions by the end of May.  IT Services will contact users to schedule a time and date for conversion — the process takes about two hours.  Dave noted that the history department was almost entirely converted and had no issues.

II. Items for Discussion

Specialized Software/Computer Lab Survey Results

Kristen is still working on putting together the survey results and apologized to TAG members for the delay.

WordPress Network

Kristen reported that at least one additional faculty request for a site on the campus WordPress network (sites.scranton.edu) had been turned down. There seems to be a continuing need among faculty and students for academic web space, particularly since the academic server (academic.scranton.edu) was decommissioned.

At our September 2013 meeting, TAG had requested that IR draft language on service levels for WordPress. Kristen asked Jim for an update on this issue. Jim was unable to attend this meeting but sent an update via email, excerpted here:

We met this past fall and have consulted with the CTLE on various support issues.  Unfortunately at this time, we cannot extend the wordpress offerings.  Looking at the current issues at hand – especially with the CTLE and the conversion to D2L – extending support won’t happen until January 2015 at the earliest. I know there is growing demand and many faculty want to use wordpress as an alternative web site.  Unfortunately the supported options are within the CMS.  D2L does have options for blogging and discussion boards.  I think TAG had offered to look at it from a faculty perspective – any news back on that?

Eugeniu explained that CTLE was unable to provide assistance to IR on support for WordPress at the same time as they are supporting faculty and students during the transition to Desire2Learn.

Kristen asked TAG members for their reactions. The majority agreed that we would like to keep advocating for WordPress but acknowledge that Desire2Learn should take priority at this time. Dave suggested that we revisit the question again in January 2015 as Jim indicated.

III. New Business

Vice President for Planning/CIO

Fr. Quinn announced in December 2013 that Jerry DeSanto would be stepping down as Vice President for Planning/CIO. Associate Vice President Robyn Dickinson will serve as Interim. While the search for a new Provost is taking priority, Dave and Kristen noted that they planned to volunteer TAG’s input (either formal or informal) in any upcoming search for the CIO position.

TAG Leadership for 2014-2015

Kristen will be rotating off as TAG co-chair at the end of Spring 2014. Dave will continue as co-chair for 2014-2015, but will be on sabbatical in Spring 2015.  They asked for one or two volunteers (preferably but not necessarily including a Senator) to serve a two-year term as co-chair. Andrew volunteered to serve in Spring 2015 while Dave is away. We are still in need of another volunteer to serve the full year.

IV. Demonstrations

Adam Edwards and Scott Finlon from Information Security came to the second half of the TAG meeting for two demonstrations.

Firstly, they demonstrated the administrative side of Identity Finder. TAG members have been piloting automated Identity Finder scans, which are running each Friday at noon. Identify Finder scans the user’s computer for any personally identifiable information (PII) in unprotected files. The Information Security Office receives reports that indicate the level of risk for that machine. Anticipating concerns about privacy and confidentiality, Adam and Scott showed a sample report. The report shows the number of hits and the location of each file with hits, but the actual information is obscured. Based off of these reports, Adam then works one-on-one with users to either delete the files or move them to a more secure location. Adam said that he is working with staff with the most risk first (e.g., people with 1,000 hits or more).

Secondly, Adam and Scott demonstrated using TrueCrypt (free open-source disk encryption software) to encrypt files or folders that contain confidential information (such as human subject research data). They have already shown this tool (along with another encryption tool in Identity Finder) to the IRB and would like to make it a recommended standard for campus use. [Update 2014-07-02: Support for TrueCrypt has been discontinued, so Information Security now recommends using 7Zip for encrypting sensitive or confidential data.] TAG members did not bring up any concerns, so we will move forward on this. Adam will share brief written instructions, and we will share them with the faculty as a recommended practice for confidential data.

Adam and Scott would like to start automated Identity Finder scans on faculty computers beginning with departments that would *not* have any confidential subject data stored no faculty desktops. We were not sure that such a distinction could be easily made, but TAG will try to work with department chairs to determine which departments might be willing to begin scans. Scott will send Kristen a list of departments as they appear in Identity Finder (based on Active Directory groups) as a starting point.


The meeting adjourned at 1:10pm. TAG’s next meeting will be Wednesday, March 12 from 12pm-1pm in WML305.

TAG Meeting Notes – 2013-09-04

5 09 2013

TAG Meeting September 4, 2013 2:00pm-2:50pm


Jeremy Brees, Tim Cannon, Paul Cutrufello, Kim Daniloski, Dave Dzurec, Tara Fay, Jim Franceschelli, Eugeniu Grigorescu, Andrew LaZella, Sandy Pesavento, Kristen Yarmey

1. Introductions

We introduced two new TAG members for this year: Dr. Andrew LaZella (Philosophy, CAS) and Jeremy Brees (Management and Marketing, KSOM). We’re still hoping to recruit an additional faculty representative from PCPS – please let us know if you have any suggestions!

2. Brief Reports

LMS Group (Tara)

The Learning Management System Working Group recommended at the end of Spring 2013 that we switch from Angel to Desire2Learn (see full report for details). TAG members Tara Fay (Biology), Sandy Pesavento (Education), and Teresa Conte (Nursing) all served on the LMS Group, along with fellow faculty members Maureen Carroll (Math) and Julie Nastasi (OT).

The University has since signed on with Desire2Learn. As VP for Planning and CIO Jerry DeSanto announced in July, Desire2Learn will be available for use in Spring 2014, and Angel will be available until June 1, 2014 (so D2L and Angel will run in parallel in Spring 2014).

Staff members in CTLE and ITDA have been working on an implementation plan. We’ve been asked not to share details yet, since the plan hasn’t been finalized, but the LMS Group will be presenting their plans to the Faculty Senate and Deans Conference in the very near future. We’ll post a conversion schedule here when there’s more information available.

Eugeniu noted that CTLE plans to do some pilot course conversions with several faculty members early on in the process – particularly faculty members whose Angel courses have a lot of specialized content.  (Tara has already volunteered to be one of the pilot participants.) There will be trainings and demonstrations available for faculty.  Let TAG know if you have questions or requests related to the LMS transition and we’ll pass them along to CTLE and ITDA.

Website Proposal Group (Dave)

Dave, Jeremy S., Kristen, and Katie met with Hal Baillie, Jerry DeSanto, Gerry Zaboski, and Vince Carilli in May to discuss the Website Maintenance Proposal that members of TAG drafted last year as a solution for the complex issue of maintaining and updating departmental websites. All parties generally agreed that maintaining departmental websites is a serious issue affecting recruitment of students and faculty, but unfortunately a new position (full time or part time) is not an option. TAG will table this issue unless we come up with other options to explore.

On a related note, during the switch to the new responsive design for the University website this summer, some departments were prepared for the conversion and had sized images uploaded in time, but others did not.

Acceptable Use Policy (Dave)

The Acceptable Use Policy drafts are moving forward and will go to the University Governance Council and the Faculty and Staff Senates this semester.

Identity Finder (Kristen)

At our April 2013 meeting, IT Services Director Jim Franceschelli and Information Security Director Adam Edwards brought a proposal for Identity Finder Automated Scans to TAG for faculty feedback. TAG shared two main concerns from faculty:

1) Decreased performance of computers during Identity Finder Scans — Adam had explained that the automated scans would be implemented with IT staff members first, so that he’d be able to smooth out the process before implementing with faculty. Jim noted that the staff rollout had gone smoothly and IT Services had not received any complaints about decreased performance. The *first* Identity Finder scan tends to take the longest, but subsequent scans are quick.

2) IRB data – concerns that Identity Finder scans of machines storing human research subject data or client files would breach subject confidentiality. We were working over the summer on preparing recommendations for faculty members who store IRB data on how to encrypt and password protect their data folders, such that the data would be protected from Identity Finder scans but (perhaps more importantly) also from external malicious attacks. Kristen will check in with Adam to find out the status of the recommendations.

All TAG members in attendance volunteered to serve as pilot participants for faculty implementation of Identity Finder prior to full rollout.

Jim recommended that faculty members run their own Identity Finders scans ASAP due to the increase in malicious attacks on campus computers — IT Services can clean and return faculty desktops much more quickly if a recent Identity Finder scan has confirmed the absence of confidential or sensitive data.

Information Resources Advisory Council (Kristen)

IRAC will meet twice this academic year, in October and March. TAG normally sends two faculty representatives to IRAC meetings. Paul Cutrufello volunteered to continue serving on IRAC this year. Andrew LaZella volunteered to serve as the second representative depending on the schedule for IRAC meetings. Kristen will contact Robyn Dickinson for IRAC meeting dates.

3. Items for Discussion

University Website Changes (Kristen)

During the summer, there were several major changes to the University’s web presence. Kristen opened the floor for feedback or comments on these transitions:

  • Academic server (academic.scranton.edu) decommissioning — Kristen worked with Adam Edwards in Information Security to reach out to faculty members who still had content on academic. CTLE offered support for faculty who needed help moving their content, generally recommending that faculty members use existing templates in the University’s content management system (CMS). While the transition seemed to go smoothly, there is still a need for a place or host for faculty and student web development. At least one faculty member had needs that could not be fulfilled in the CMS.
  • Responsive redesign of www.scranton.edu — There are several reports of templates not quite making a smooth transition – e.g., Faculty/Staff pages like the History Department’s, dropdown links on the Provost’s website, etc.
  • m.scranton.edu takedown — The Library had issues with this, but TAG members hadn’t heard any other concerns. [Update 2014-02-12: Lori Nidoh in PR clarified that m.scranton.edu had not been taken down. Instead, automatic redirects had been implemented.]
  • my.scranton.edu (Luminis) upgrade — TAG members reported several ways in which the new interface unintuitive. Student schedules are difficult (for students) to find, as are the Faculty/Staff directory, class rosters, and course evaluations. However, TAG members agreed that by now most people have figured out where links are, so we don’t want to request changes to the Faculty Tab at this point.

WordPress (Kristen)

The University set up a local WordPress network in late 2011. It now hosts admissions blogs, the Library blog, and the History Department blog. IR staff members had indicated that they were working on developing guidelines for how the WordPress network could be used and creating a process through which sites on the network could be requested.

In the meantime, several faculty members have requested WordPress sites for other uses – internal collaboration, classroom use, etc.  To date, while internal collaboration requests have been accommodated, IR has denied requests for classroom use. Jim explained that IR is working on determining what level of support they can provide. For example, while supporting one faculty member’s WordPress site would not be time intensive, supporting 30-40 classroom sites would be an issue — whose job does this become? There are also other issues IR wants to consider before providing class-based WordPress support – e.g., archiving student work, providing access and security, etc.  IR’s preference would be to provide support for classroom blogs via Desire2Learn once we convert over from Angel. Kristen asked Eugeniu if one of the D2L faculty pilots could include a blogging feature so that faculty members can see what blogging features are or aren’t available in D2L.

IR staff members are meeting to discuss the WordPress service in a few weeks. Kristen asked if faculty members can participate in this conversation, and Jim said that he will let TAG know when faculty input is needed. TAG will expect to see drafted language on service levels for WordPress at our November meeting, in the hopes that the service may be available for use in Spring 2014.

TAG Senate Status (Dave)

Dave (as TAG’s Faculty Senate liaison) reported that Senate president Rebecca Mikesell would like to propose that TAG become a full Senate Committee, (possibly called the Technology Advisory Committee). The membership criteria would be the same as we discussed last year for TAG as a subcommittee of the Academic Support committee — that is, flexible membership aiming for representation from CAS, PCPS, KSOM, and the Library, with at least one faculty Senator, who will serve as TAG’s liaison to the Senate. Dave noted that if TAG is a full Senate committee, TAG’s Senate liaison will serve on the Senate Executive committee.

TAG members had no objections to the proposal, which will likely be brought up for a vote at the September 13 Senate meeting.

4. New Business

Jim gave us some quick updates on changes that will affect or interest faculty:

  • Desktop computer logins — by the end of 2013, logins for desktop computers will change to the user’s R number and my.scranton password – so users will not have to remember a separate desktop password. This is part of the continued implementation of Active Directory authentication.
  • Google Chrome browser — IR will begin providing Google Chrome to University computers via KBOX. There are still some details to be worked out on this – Jim will let us know when it will happen and what will happen for users who already have Chrome installed.
  • Office 365 — We converted to Office 365 from Live@Edu over the summer. We’ve already benefited from increased email storage space and access to “lite” cloud versions of Office software. We will see a few new features later this fall, including Lync instant messaging and SharePoint collaboration software.

Kristen and Dave will meet with Jerry DeSanto, Robyn Dickinson, Lorraine Mancuso, and Jim on September 25 for a full “road map” discussion of what’s coming this year from IR for faculty.

The meeting adjourned at 2:50pm – TAG will reconvene on Wednesday, October 2 at 2:00pm in LSC591 (CTLE Conference Room).

TAG Departmental Website Proposal at the Faculty Senate

12 04 2013

Today, Jeremy presented the TAG proposal for the upkeep and maintenance of the departmental websites to the faculty senate for feedback. The proposal was briefly overviewed by Jeremy, who then opened the floor for comments and responses from the faculty to such a proposal. A brief summary of the comments follows.

  • Many of the faculty were in support of the proposal, agreeing that the time involved in updating the website is a barrier to frequent updates. Often mentioned was the idea that we faculty are often not experts in the display of such information. Thus, a number of faculty were in support of the document.
  • The provost, Hal Baille, commented that the Committee for University Image and Promotion is aware of this proposal and in support of such a position. He emphasized the fact that, more than a public relations issue, the departmental websites are an admissions issue. Getting quality students, especially in a time when universities are competing for good students, means having a standout webpage. More than half of the incoming students use the university webpage as a very important criterion for determining which university they attend. Thus, it is very valuable, from an admissions perspective, to attract quality students, and the website is an important tool in the process.
  • A comment was made about the University’s web infrastructure, and that spending money on such a position may only be a small bandage on a problematic, and potentially outdated infrastructure. One Senator commented that the webservers run software that is costly run when there are cheaper, more-secure options that may be available, which can allow webpages to run more common web software packages, such as WordPress, PhP, or MySQL.
  • Another Senator questioned the necessity of such a position and the frequency of needed updates. Certain departments and programs, the Senator stated, simply may not have updates that can or should be implemented on a regular basis. If this is a consistent event across many of the departments, forcing updates may not make for a better website. Another Senator disagreed, stating that certain national accrediting bodies require yearly updates of programatic content on websites, so, at a minimum, such updates can an should be made. In addition, it was stated that such updates are not “easy” for faculty and staff to implement.
  • In terms of the staffing of the position, it was suggested to explore the current employees of the university before requesting an external hire. There may be current employees and/or positions with the appropriate skill set that can be re-purposed to fill this role. It is important to mention here, that the website proposal group did not feel that it was within its purview to make financial or administrative recommendations about this position. We simply request that such a position exist, and that it should be within the administrative sections of the University to decide the specifics of such a position. This group does recommend, and will make explicit in future versions of the proposal, that due to the extensive collaboration with faculty that this position should be housed within Academic Affairs.
  • Other faculty expressed concerns that this position could be used as a tool for Public Relations as opposed to a vehicle for expression of the faculty and their departments. It is not the intention of the sub-group that this position interfere in any way with the web-based expression of any faculty member. Our group intends that this position be a tool for faculty to assist them in presenting content in the form desired by the faculty of that department. This position should assist faculty, not remove them from the process. Faculty and departments will not be required to use this position, but this subgroup feels that it should exist as an option for those that do. Furthermore, we feel that there are sufficient departments and faculty that will make use of such a position to make it worthwhile.

TAG is currently working on implementing all the above suggestions into the next version of this proposal and thanks everyone at the Senate meeting for their participation and lively discussion. As always, anyone with comments, questions, or feedback of any kind is encouraged to email us at tag-members@royallists.scranton.edu, or email the chair or the subgroup responsible for the creation of this document at jeremy.sepinsky@scranton.edu.

Website Proposal Group – 02/12/2013 Minutes

13 02 2013

The Website Proposal Group met on Tuesday, February 12 to discuss the next stages of our proposal for a new method of updating and maintaining the academic departmental websites.  In attendance were Teresa Conte, Eugeniu Grigorescu, Kevin Wilkerson, Lori Nidoh, Kathleen Iacocca, and Jeremy Sepinsky.

The discussion revolved primarily around the creation of the website proposal document.  A sketch/outline of the document can be found here.

Sandy (nominated in abstentia) and Teresa will begin drafting the section entitled “Benefits to the Departments” and “Benefits to the Faculty” due to their experience with updating the website for their departments.  Lori will begin the draft of the “Benefits to the University” due to her experience with the outward-facing side of the university website and her knowledge of the usage statistics for our webpage.  Jeremy and Kathleen with begin the draft for the “Proposed Solution”, and attempt to aggregate the discussion at the meeting into a single solution.

The next meeting will be held in ~3 weeks, when we will begin the revision process for this document.

Website Proposal Group – 1/30/2013 Minutes

31 01 2013

The third meeting of the Website Proposal Group was on January 30th at 9AM. In attendance were Lori Nidoh, Eugeniu Grigorescu, Sandy Pesavento, and Jeremy Sepinsky.

There were three items on the agenda to discuss.

  • Peer/Aspirant Universities – Sandy Pesavento and Teresa Conte looked into website management of the schools on the Peer/Aspirant list for The University of Scranton. Reaching out to each school on the list, they received only one response, which was from Loyola University Maryland. It seems that they have a similar system to what is in place here: webmaster distributed among different departments. We are still hoping to hear back from a number of other schools.
  • Schools Using our CMS – Lori Nidoh investigated the webpage management of other schools who currently use the same CMS software that we have implemented on campus. This resulted in two direct responses. The first was from the University of Dayton who seem to have a much more centralized website management/update procedure. They have 6 webmasters, appointed by each of their 6 Deans, who manage the web content in their area. These webmasters each have the ability to appoint staff and/or faculty members who can make edits — but not publish — content on the front-facing PR sites for the university (such as main departmental webpages). The University of Dayton is about twice the size of Scranton, having an equivalent full-time enrollment of about 10,000 students.The second response came from Jackson State who claimed to have many of the same problems that we do. They do have a central webmaster, but the publishing model is more distributed, and they also have problems determining and designating who is responsible for content management.
  • Size of the University Web Presence – Thanks to Joe Cassabona from Information Resources, Jeremy Sepinsky reported the approximate size of the departmental webpages on campus. They range from as few as 4 to over 100. Thus, it is difficult to come up with a specific “size” that represents most departments, but an eyeball-average says that most departments have about 20 separate webpages with content that needs to be managed. With over 20 separate departments at the university of Scranton, there is quite a bit of content to manage.Additionally, it was pointed out that the departmental websites don’t really have a uniform appearance. While they are all in the CMS, the navigation bar and the location of certain useful pieces of information (faculty websites, contact info, etc.) is not necessarily in the same place. This can cause confusion for prospective faculty and students. Thus, it may be necessary for a proposed hire to first create a uniform theme and content organization before being fully immersed in routine updates.

After this, we discussed some of the requirements that a proposed webmaster position would need. It seems the role we are asking to be filled is twofold: Webpage Designer and Content Manager. The Webpage designer portion is responsible for designing the general look of the sites, as well as collaborating with the Marketing and Communication Division to ensure proper marketability of the website. The Content Manager portion is responsible for contacting and collaborating with individual faculty members and departments, determine what should be displayed, and how it should be presented. Thus, it appears that this would need to not be an entry-level hire.

At our next meeting, we intend to start writing the formal proposal.

Website Proposal Group – 11/27/2012 Minutes

27 11 2012

The website proposal group met on 11/27/2012 at 1PM .  In attendance were Eugeniu Grigorescu, Lori Nidoh, Sandy Pesavento, Teresa Conte, and Jeremy Sepinsky.

The meeting began with a recap of the previous meeting, as well as a renewed discussion about the need for a forward-facing, uniform presence of The University of Scranton on the web. One major point of import is the need for a high-level of commitment from departments across the university to make this endeavor a success Without buy-in from PR, Faculty, and Administration, the university’s web presence will not accurately reflect its brick-and-mortar presence. Thus, it is imperative for this group to seek support, advice, and input from each sector and at all levels.

The group then proceeded to identify and affirm the charge and goal of our meeting. The current charge under which we shall proceed is as follows

The group of individuals listed below were charged by the Technology Advisory Group (TAG) to propose a process to better maintain and update academic departmental websites. The current process results in significant non-uniformity, a lack of aesthetics, infrequent updates, and significant imposition upon departmental faculty responsible for maintaining the pages. This proposal seeks to ameliorate each of these impositions on the public image of The University of Scranton and to build a process that allows the creation of a website that enhances the brand and reflects the true value of our campus.

The rest of the meeting was then spent organizing and planning the next steps. In order to create a successful and thorough proposal, we need to first invest in a significant amount of background research. To that end, Teresa Conte and Sandy Pesavento will be contacting some of our Peer and Aspirant Universities which have an impress web presence in order to determine how they maintain and update their university websites. Lori Nidoh will contact other users of our CMS to find out what methods they find are best for a continuously updated web presence. Jeremy Sepinsky will contact PIR to get a handle on the volume and organization of the webpages that we currently have, in order to estimate the workload that would be required of any proposed webmaster. Lastly, the currently working solution (as discussed in the 11/13 minutes) likely requires the hire of a part-time or fill-time webmaster for the campus. Thus, this solution will be contingent on funding for such a position. Jeremy Sepinsky will reach out to various administrative bodies to determine the liklihood of such funding being available.

Website Maintenance Proposal Group Minutes, 11-13-2012

14 11 2012

The website proposal group met on 11/13/2012 at 1PM. In attendance were: Kevin Wilkerson, Eugeniu Grigorescu, Sandy Pesavento, Teresa Conte, Kathleen Iacocca, and Jeremy Sepinsky.

The meeting agenda can be found here.

The discussion began with a recap of what TAG has learned, and the problems that exist regarding the current department webpages. See the above minutes for a detailed description. Some additional information that was provided by the attendees during the meeting:

  1. The current guidelines for departmental webpages have no way of requiring continued maintenance of the department pages. The language address “encouraging” the faculty to update and submit content. When crafting this language, the faculty and staff involved debated whether they could make it stronger, but decided they could only request participation from the faculty members.
  2. Some colleges have implemented “local” solutions. For example, PCPS has hired a Graduate Assistant savvy with the CMS to implement revisions as opposed to having individual faculty members update the pages.
  3. While Admissions is very concerned with the website from a student perspective, it is important to realize that we need good PR from a faculty perspective as well. When departments are looking for a new faculty position the website can play a critical role in whether or not quality candidates apply for the job.
  4. The current CMS, unfortunately, creates a barrier for the CTLE to help faculty update and maintain departmental or personal pages. The permissions structure requires the faculty to be present for updates, edits, and, particularly, publishing. Furthermore, the CMS preview rendering is NOT consistent with the final product that is displayed on a webpage. Thus, a Tech Con would be able to modify and edit a page so it looks good in a preview, but it will be changed when the faculty publishes. The number of iterations required to get a final, attractive product would be overly burdensome on the faculty.
  5. There were debates as to whether the University got what it paid for in terms of the CMS. It was designed to allow faculty easy access to update their own pages, but it is NOT as user-friendly as hoped. In order to include the features that many people needed, the interface and design became too complicated for the casual user.

To summarize the problem that this group hopes to tackle:

  • PR is not well-informed enough about faculty content to independently update the webpages;
  • Faculty are neither taught nor incentivized well enough to update the site on their own.

Thus, we hope to develop a CMS-agnostic process that bridges the gap between presentation skills and complete content.

Previously on our campus, there have been two models for the update and design of the webpages, neither of which seem to have worked. The Webmaster model, and the Faculty Ownership model.

  • The Webmaster Model
    • This model existed prior to the current CMS, where a person (or group of people; hereafter “The Webmaster”) was responsible for updating the pages with content provided by the faculty.
    • The Webmaster thus had the access and the skills to create and present the departmental webpages, whenever the content was provided by the faculty.
    • Unfortunately, the faculty did not often provide or update the information on the page, and the Webmaster was not tasked with actively seeking out that information. Faculty were not tasked with actively contacting the Webmaster with such information. Thus, many pages were not actively updated
  • The Faculty Ownership Model
    • This is the model that is currently in place. The faculty have full control over their departmental webpages. The CMS was intended to provide easy access to the content producers (read: faculty), so they could play an active part in the dissemination of that content on the webpages.
    • CMS training exists for the faculty, and afterwards they are able to update the pages. But it is far from simple or WYSIWIG. The biggest problem becomes when faculty want to update the webpage later. Because they update infrequently, it generally requires faculty to relearn the CMS in order to re-update, which is really the big time sink.
    • Because of the learning barrier for the CMS, most faculty don’t know how to use it, and a departmental webmaster is appointed. There are still no clear expectations of the webpage, and faculty are often ill-equipped for creating publicly consumable knowledge, let alone PR materials. Thus, while the webpages may be more frequently updated, there is less useful content and an inconsistency in presentation which hampers PR efforts.

Thus, given this information, the faculty present feel that a Periodic Webmaster model might work best. Our group describes this as one where significant updates to the departmental webpages happen at certain times throughout the year. The Webmaster would solicit updates and/or approval of changes from faculty regarding certain parts of their department’s webpage. For example, faculty changes may happen in January and June whereas front page changes may happen in February and September. Each recurring facet of departmental webpages should have a deadline attached to it. This is not dissimilar to the model currently employed for course catalog updates. For departments that want more regular updates, there would be an avenue available for ad hoc changes, or even the possibility of continued faculty access to the CMS.

At the close of the meeting, the members feel that this plan is worth exploration and will begin to work out the details and logistics of such a process. This will happen over the course of the next few months.

As always: questions, comments, or suggestions are more than welcome. Email tag-member@royallists.scranton.edu, or comment below.