2006 Campus Technology Innovators: IT Funding

2006 Campus Technology Innovators

TECHNOLOGY AREA: IT FUNDING
Innovator: ENMU-Roswell

 


 

2006 CT Innovators: ENMU-Roswell

CREATIVITY and "chunking" gets
ENMU-Roswell what it needs.

Challenge Met

In 2001, Eastern New Mexico University- Roswell faced an antiquated data cabling system, no single integrated architecture, little network security, and a phone system that was rapidly running out of numbers. In order to grow, the two-year college needed an infrastructure to support new education methods and capabilities, such as distance learning systems to serve the surrounding community. Funding was extremely limited at the small university, a branch of the main campus in Portales, NM. Still, ENMU-Roswell has recently grown 40 percent, to over 4,100 students, despite its geographically isolated location.

Through largely self-funded efforts, with virtually no outside funding, Dean of ITS and CIO Arthur Leible has patiently worked to complete major infrastructure upgrades in small segments as finances allowed. To do this, the school has resorted to creative methods of cost control. “Our innovation is in [our] staff’s ability and willingness to work hard, self-train, and adapt to available dollars,” Leible says, “while moving the network and associated services ahead by three to five generations.”

How They Did It

For the four-year infrastructure transformation, Leible has used methods that range from training in-house staff rather than bringing on consultants, to completing projects bit by bit. In one instance, he joined with another college to obtain a federal Title V grant (available to schools serving Hispanic populations) to overhaul videoconferencing suites. “I break down every project by how much I can get [in funding] for it each year,” Leible says, adding that he draws from available budgets wherever he can, and credits plain old solid teamwork from the provost and the other cabinet officers. “Everybody helps here,” Leible says. “If you need something, we all get together.”

Leible was hired as CIO in fall 2000, when the position was created; having a C-level position has helped him work with the rest of ENMU-Roswell’s cabinet to drive forward the infrastructure upgrades. Today, the school has upgraded all its cabling to Category 5e and fiber optic inside and out, after sending an IT staff member to fiber splicing class first. To overcome distance limitations, the school has added digital radio links to some facilities not yet on the network. WebCT’s course management system was installed in 2002 for a distance learning program, along with a VoIP system to augment the existing PBX system. Almost from scratch, the school’s security system has been upgraded to include a firewall, and multi-level anti-virus, anti-spam, and antispyware pieces.

The cabling upgrade, VoIP, WebCT installation, security, and training were all funded internally from operational budgets. Almost all of the labor came from staff, some of whom were sent to appropriate classes before undertaking a new project. ENMU-Roswell has also formed some innovative partnerships, such as a system demonstration partnership with Cisco Systems and Albuquerque-based Integrity Networking Systems for a network test bed (with equipment), consulting services, and network security monitoring at substantial discounts.

Next Steps

With the bulk of architecture upgrades behind them, some auxiliary buildings still need full integration with the fiber-optic cable and upgraded radio technology; full segmentation and redundancy is not yet in place. Software upgrades to WebCT and other systems are needed, as well as creation of a portal, and future integration of evolving systems.

Advice

Aside from truly creative self-funding and cost-control methods, Leible’s bywords are flexibility, patience, an incremental approach to projects, and teamwork.“Technology is just one key component to providing the means of accomplishing our goals,” he says.

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