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Technology Happenings in Higher Education

CT Briefs


COMPUTATIONAL THINKING. Carnegie Mellon University (PA) and Microsoft have established a new center that will support research into emerging areas of computer science, particularly those that influence thinking in other disciplines. Funded by a three-year, $1.5 million grant from Microsoft, the Microsoft Carnegie Mellon Center for Computational Thinking will engage researchers from diverse disciplines to address real-world problems, starting with topics such as privacy, eCommerce, multicore computing, and embedded medical devices. Read more.

FAST MONEY. At Hardin-Simmons University (TX), a new, fully automated student loan processing system is speeding a procedure that once required about 95 hours to make funds available to students. With the new process, students typically can access the funds the same day. The university is currently the only higher ed institution in the state of Texas able to make this claim. The school’s Technology Services department worked with the Financial Aid office and software provider Datatel to customize the service.

SHORT AND TO THE POINT. At Philadelphia University (PA), tutorials ranging from less than 30 seconds to just a few minutes, featuring voice and on-screen explanations, are helping campus users through sticky help desk questions and course technology problems. The tutorials, from Atomic Learning, cover some 100 applications commonly used in higher ed.

MAKING ACCESSIBILITY A CERTAINTY. As part of its Accessible Technology Initiative, the California State University system will implement software from HiSoftware to monitor the accessibility of CSU websites, web content, and web applications for people with disabilities. “CSU has a strong commitment to full access for all, and is engaged in a systematic approach to ensure the accessibility of information technology on CSU campuses,” explains CIO and Assistant Vice Chancellor of IT Services David Ernst.

Campus Briefs

BOISE STATE was one of three institutions to participate in Oracle’s hosted beta program for Campus Solutions 9.0.

POST-ACQUISITION EVOLUTION. Like many institutions, Boise State University (ID) was thrown into nail-biting mode with the January 2005 news of Oracle’s acquisition of PeopleSoft. Since then, the school has not only remained a customer, but has also participated in a hosted beta program for Oracle’s Campus Solutions 9.0, and has decided to upgrade to that software, released in December 2006. “We were delighted to find that [Oracle had really done things right], and many of the new features will allow us to retire customizations that we created and have maintained for years,” writes Steve Grantham, Boise State’s coordinator for data quality and reporting. Read more.

TEXTING WITH GATORS. Students at the University of Florida can now receive text messages on their cell phones as part of UF’s formal communication plan. Through a free service called Mobile Campus, the university offers instant text messaging to keep students up-to-date on everything from emergency weather alerts and class schedule changes, to the latest trivia contest on campus. As a part of UF’s agreement with Mobile Campus, students can limit the number of sponsored or advertising messages they receive from the service to two per day.


Pattie Orr

Pattie Orr, VP for IT and dean of libraries at Baylor University (TX)

NEW EXEC SPANS IT AND LIBRARIES. Baylor University (TX) has named Pattie Orr VP for IT and dean of libraries. Orr will lead a university-wide IT organization that provides administrative and academic technology services and infrastructure, as well as library services. She replaces Rebecca King, director of information systems and services, who served as interim CIO, and William B. Hair III, associate dean and director of the university libraries, who served for the past year as interim dean of libraries.

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