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Todd Smoak at roundtable

Todd Smoak from Administrative Technologies speaks during one of the five moderated roundtable discussions at CITx on Tuesday, March 8, 2016, at State Farm Hall of Business.

First CITx conference brings Illinois State’s IT community together

Illinois State’s IT community gathered March 8 for a new event aimed at promoting better collaboration and communication across campus on technology issues.

The inaugural Continuous Improvement in Technology Extension event, or CITx, drew around 85 staff members to the State Farm Hall of Business. The half-day conference—a spinoff of the popular CIT annual event—featured networking time for new and veteran staffers, a 90-minute “IT News” update, and roundtable discussions on project management, communication, and other topics.

Craig Jackson speaks to crowd

Craig Jackson, director of Infrastructure, Operations, and Networking (ION) in Administrative Technologies, speaks to around 85 campus IT staffers during CITx.

As Illinois State’s IT community pivots away from a challenging, years-long upgrade project, speakers during the IT News session emphasized the important role that campus technology professionals play in recruiting and retaining students and faculty.

“Think about all the programs and activities going on at Illinois State that cannot function without you,” Eric Hodges, recently appointed acting associate vice president and chief technology officer for Administrative Technologies, told CITx attendees. “(IT) is the engine that keeps us running.”

Carla Birckelbaw speaks to crowd

Carla Birckelbaw, director of Client Services in Administrative Technologies, speaks during the CITx event.

Illinois State’s IT staff is spread across campus, with many units having their own technology experts. In hopes of increasing interdepartmental communication and social networking opportunities for IT staff in these various areas, the CIT planning team decided to expand by creating the new CITx event.

“It became clear over time that a once-a-year conference was not enough,” said Paul Unsbee, senior instructional support associate in the College of Fine Arts and a lead CIT organizer.

“It is my hope that CITx will have a positive ripple effect on IT community building and collaboration efforts campuswide, while at the same time serve as an incubator for future opportunities, ideas, and presentation topics for the larger CIT conference,” said Unsbee.

A stronger IT community can lead to a better experience for students, faculty, and staff. Many students and their families have high expectations for the technology they’ll see on campus—from Wi-Fi to class registration. A university’s technology services reflect on its quality and demonstrate how much it cares about its students, said Troy Johnson, associate vice president for enrollment management.

Troy Johnson speaks

Troy Johnson, associate vice president for enrollment management, opened the IT News session at CITx.

As Johnson updated CITx attendees on Illinois State’s positive enrollment trends, he acknowledged the long hours and challenges associated with bringing the LEAPForward initiative close to the finish line.

“Part of my being here today is just to say thanks,” Johnson told attendees.

The IT News session featured updates by several IT leaders from across campus, including:

  • The first two phases of a wireless Internet upgrade project are now completed, improving coverage in buildings such as Milner Library and the Student Fitness Center. A third phase is set to be completed in fall 2016. Another project is also underway to improve wireless connections in ISU residence halls. That work is expected to be completed by August 2016.
  • All students and AT employees have been migrated over to Office 365 for email. Two committees will soon be formed to provide feedback and set timelines as the rest of campus moves to 365.
  • Web and Interactive Communications (WEB) reported 7.1 million mobile sessions on University webpages in 2015, up 1.9 million from 2014. More than half of all web traffic is now coming from mobile devices for many sites, including Campus Dining and Campus Recreation. Responding to that trend, WEB has created mobile-optimized versions of 100+ ISU webpages, including the homepage.
  • Efforts are underway to find a new web-based research survey tool for faculty and staff. The current tool, called Select Survey, needs to be replaced. A request for proposals is expected to go out this spring.
Ed Vize speaks to a group

Ed Vize from Administrative Technologies leads a roundtable discussion on communication during the CITx event.

Most CITx attendees also attended one of the five moderated roundtable discussions. Those topics were selected based on submissions from the IT community itself.

CITx is sponsored by Administrative Technologies and the Office of Administrative Technologies. It’s hosted by the College of Business. The full CIT conference is tentatively scheduled for summer 2016.

Learn more at CIT.IllinoisState.edu.

Ryan Denham can be reached at rmdenha@IllinoisState.edu.

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