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September 27, 2004
EmoryLink looks for Emory-wide IT solutions
BY Donna price
A new initiative, Emory-Link, sponsored by the offices of the provost and the executive vice president for finance and administration, is taking a broader look at the University’s information technology (IT) infrastructure with the goal of defining a common IT communication platform for University-wide e-mail, calendaring and collaboration.
For most people in the Emory community, reliance on IT resources for teaching, research, scholarship, health care, business and administrative transactions, and social communications is as taken-for-granted as the sunrise.
But like every other university, the infrastructure supporting the extraordinary IT evolution of the past decade—and on which everyone now depends—was built, like post-Civil War Atlanta, in service of immediate needs rather than on a comprehensive master plan. And, like navigating the streets of Atlanta, IT users must negotiate a labyrinth of systems built from a mix of technology products, services and technology platforms across schools, departments and divisions.
“A common platform is essential if we are to achieve the vision of the University,” said Don Harris, chief information officer and vice provost for information technology. “The goals of collaboration, interdisciplinary partnerships and academic community are made easier when technical barriers are reduced.”
The EmoryLink advisory group is made up of 17 representatives from the academic divisions and schools, the finance division, Faculty Council/University Senate, Employee Council, Student Government Association, College Council, Information Technology Division (ITD), Network Communications and Emory Healthcare.
“The charter of our group is to develop a list of options,” said John Ellis, director of technical services for ITD. “This is not an implementation group; that’s why we have this makeup. It’s not all technical people; it’s more end-user.”
One of those end-users is Sharon Strocchia, chair of Faculty Council and one of the early drivers of the effort that led to EmoryLink. “Developing a common IT platform would remove barriers to collaborative ventures, especially across schools,” Strocchia said. “One basic example is in graduate teaching. Students enrolled in the professional schools use local versions of LearnLink or Blackboard. When they take courses offered by the graduate school, they don’t have ready access to electronic course materials, or to the e-mail of fellow students. As Emory moves more toward cross-disciplinary teaching and scholarship, the problem becomes magnified.”
To learn more about cross-platform problems like this, as well as gain the essential feedback needed to move forward with the project, the group
has organized a Technology Showcase for Sept. 30 from
9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Cox Hall ballroom, where the Emory community will have the opportunity to test-drive and provide feedback on some of the best new integrated IT communication solutions.
“This is a way for people to get involved, see what the technology can do and how it will help them in their day-to-day tasks and work environments,” said team leader Karen Jenkins of ITD Client Services Develop-ment. “At the end of the showcase, there will be an exit interview.”
Systems on display will include solutions for e-mail messaging, calendaring, directory lookups, collaboration and remote access (web, PDA, etc.). Vendors include Microsoft, IBM, Novell, FirstClass and Scalix. Thirty-minute vendor presentations will begin hourly from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“We are really interested in gathering community feedback,” Ellis said.
For more information and to participate in an online survey, visit www.emory.edu/