FCC Meeting - October 7, 2016


Michael Ching, Julia McQuade, Jack Cheney, Bryn Geffert, David Hamilton, Bridget Dahill

Agenda Items:


  • hari stephen kumar no longer attending FCC meetings due to his new role.
  • Dropbox file sync and sharing service deployment
    • It’s been deployed. Every incoming student has been offered an account. Almost overwhelming, however not universally, well received.
  • Virtual Reality workstation/lab setup
    • We have created a room scale virtual reality space in the SMudd computing lab.
    • We’ll make a public announcement when it has been built.
    • This is a result of student work in digital humanities exploring virtual reality projects.
  • IT Hiring: new Director of Infrastructure w/ Peter Crowley on hiring committee.
  • Director of Curricular and Research Computing (formerly Director of ATS) to begin ~November.


Best time slot to hold this meeting.
David will send a Doodle poll to find the best time for a regular meeting.

Academic Technology Services reorganization work is complete. Overview of what's changed:
Lab and media support moved onto the help desk
Software development moved into Web Services group with the rest of the software developers
Instructional technologists focused on longer form teaching and research support along with responsibilities with Teaching and Learning Collaborative.
New Director and Paul Chapin's retirement means an opportunity to refashion how the unit functions

  • Paul Chapin is retiring and we are waiting to fill that position permanently. In the meantime we are looking at options to fill his Moodle support responsibilities for the academic year.
  • A question was brought up at the meeting if we would consider LMS options besides Moodle, such as Google. Short answer is that Moodle is the platform of choice of all the 5 Colleges.

Business process assessment:
This summer the college brought in 2 outside teams to assess the HR function and the procurement processes of the college, and this winter we will bring in an outside team to assess our business processes. IT issued an RFP for these services and is in negotiation with a vendor for providing them. It's worth spending some time on a discussion of why we're pursuing this. There are a number of possivle outcomes, including choices about the future of the Student Information System (ACData) which may emerge from this engagement.

  • What’s happening next: David is going to senior staff to present the rationale of bringing a vendor (Gartner) to campus. David would like the FCC to meet with the vendor so as to be able to speak with faculty on this topic. 
  • We are more likely to reach consensus if we pay a third party consultant to come and look at our problem space and make a recommendation.
  • Gartner is coming later in October for 3 days.

New computer retention policy for departing faculty under consideration.
Present policy:
Retiring Faculty can keep computers issued to them by the college.
Visitors leaving the college may keep computers upon request.
New policy:
Retiring Faculty can keep computers issued to them by the college, but the college will issue them a W2 because of changes in the tax laws. The help desk will assist retiring faculty in the removal of college licensed software from the computers because of software licensing compliance issues.
Visiting faculty will no longer be able to keep computers when they depart the college. IT staff will help them move their data to personally owned computers or to storage of their choice.
These changes are being considered because:
Cost: Last year 33 departing faculty cost the college ~$33-$49,000 to purchase replacement computers, along with $6-7,000 in labor and several thousand in software licensing costs.
Best practices: of 32 CLAC schools who responded to a survey this summer, only 2 besides Amherst College let departing visiting faculty keep their computers, and of the schools that let faculty (emeriti or visiting) keep their computers when they leave, most charge them for the depreciated value of the equipment.

Even with this changes, we are still more generous in our policy than most of our peers.

Chromebook Pilot for Biology

  • Biology class deployed ChromeBooks to students as a means of having a mobile lab space for class
  • Students access specifialized software via the Virtual Computing Lab (VCL)
  • Issues of connectivity have arisen and IT is committed to finding a solution