Behind the Scenes with the Student IT Office

The Student IT Office was established in the summer of 2013 within RIT’s Information & Technology Services to provide students an ongoing opportunity for experiential learning in software development, project management, and business management. SITO solicits and completes software projects “for students, by students.”

The Student IT Office allows students to gain valuable leadership, personal, and professional skills while working within a fairly autonomous, collaborative environment right on RIT’s campus.

The SITO team is at present managing and developing several projects including:

  • Class Search (Tiger Center): the team’s main focus this year; a one stop shop for student information (a newer SIS)
  • TeamBuilder: a space for teams to list needs for team members and for those seeking teams to join to find them
  • Virtual Workspace: an online application (primarily for photo and journalism ) to create, manage, and show news stories in a manner similar to a real newsroom
  • Imagine RIT exhibit proposal system: a web app to gather information about individuals/teams seeking to exhibit their projects
  • SIS Extension: a browser extension to improve navigation on SIS as well as add functionality such as a grade calculator, auto-complete class search, RIT branding, and shortcuts
Tiger Center
A view of the Tiger Center homepage

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Behind the Scenes with Information & Technology Services

I recently sat down with Jeanne Casares, RIT’s Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Assistant Vice President of Information and Technology Services (ITS) to discuss what her group does. Jeanne oversees the largest of the many campus IT units at RIT. Jeanne’s charge is to identify the institute’s IT vision and lead that vision all the way to operation.

During Jeanne’s time as CIO ITS has rolled out and deployed RIT’s wireless network comprised of thousands of access points all across campus. Faculty and staff saw a much needed email service upgrade and students saw the migration of their mail system to Google Apps for Education giving them the ability to utilize highly collaborative and useful tools such as Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Calendar seamlessly with their RIT computer accounts. ITS also oversaw the development and migration to the new SIS environment – a project which was completed in 22 months instead of the estimated 3 years. Jeanne explained that in reality there aren’t a lot of products on the market (only 2) that have the type of functionality that RIT requires. Oracle’s solution is very robust and can handle the complexities that come with managing higher education related data. The system needed to be able to handle and serve data in a manner that was FERPA-compliant and also able to process financial aid tables, student records, and a variety of other detailed and linked datasets and most solutions couldn’t perform. While the current implementation might not be the most user friendly, work is being done by the Student IT Office (SITO) to change the front-end interface and restructure the environment so that the most used and sought features and reports can be moved to the front-page.

Jeanne was keen to share the story of the Student IT Office which is entirely comprised of students from managers to developers. The team is presently working on many solutions for the new SIS that will make the interface easier to navigate and more student friendly. [Note: a post on the Student IT Office is coming soon.]

Jeanne’s vision is for IT at RIT to be more network-centric more and for relevant IT organizations (such as college IT offices) to be able to share infrastructure on a macro-level. She was also keen to note that technology is bigger than technology itself. Another of Jeanne’s goals is to focus on the relationships among campus IT organizations, to foster collaboration, and encouragement more sharing of input and ideas across RIT in the context of information technology. One such example of this cooperation came during this semester’s snow day when the storm made travelling all over the WNY area very difficult. Jay Sullivan, a member of CIAS’s IT team, helped get ITS staff on-campus to perform important work to get systems back online. Lastly, Jeanne plans on moving ITS from being response-focused to being more pro-active in helping and advising the business planning at RIT.

ITS provides very valuable services and support for everyone across the university. From Resnet which provides computer repair labor free-of-charge for students, to Network Communications which keeps the network backbone running, wifi on, and phones ringing to the application development and support teams that work hard to keep things like eServices and the RIT web environment up and running ITS keeps the institute moving. Next time you easily connect to the seemingly always available wireless network or log onto a computer and print something in a lab think of the many men and women who are working hard to allow you to do those things and who are working to support and drive the technology at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Information & Technology Services component organizations:

  • Business Services
  • Operations & Architecture
  • Project Management
  • Service Strategies
  • Support & Development

To learn more about ITS, visit their website.

Behind the Scenes with Institutional Research & Policy Studies

Joan Graham oversees RIT’s Office of Institutional Research and Policy Studies, a group whose mission is to “support institutional effectiveness and facilitate planning, assessment, policy analysis, and decision-making through the collection, analysis, and interpretation of institutional data, in support of the university’s mission.”
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Behind the Scenes with Global Risk Management Services

Continuing in the Behind the Scenes series is Global Risk Management Services (GRMS), under the guidance of Assistant Vice President John Zink.

The chief mission of GRMS is to minimize risk at RIT and protect the university’s people and assets. John and his team work to find potential risks around the institute and channel expertise and resources to mitigate or eliminate them.

John oversees the Business Continuity Office, the Department of Environmental Health & Safety, Information Security Office, the Department of Public Safety, Risk Management & Insurance, and the Print & Postal Hub. There are many risks associated with running a higher education institution such as RIT such as the thousands of students who live on campus (and sometimes we can make poor decisions) to the dozens of buildings and structures to compliance with various laws and regulations.

Through the Business Continuity Office, GRMS oversees the planning of business continuity operations, crisis management, and emergency response. You can check out the plan here to learn more specifics. Plans and procedures are developed in-line with Federal Emergency Management Agency standards and the team has strong working relationships with area police and emergency response organizations.

The Department of Environmental Health & Safety is responsible for ensuring that RIT provides a healthy and safe working, living, and learning environment around campus and aims to reduce RIT’s negative environmental impact. In addition to performing fire and safety inspections the department holds the institute in compliance work relevant health and safety laws and regulations.

Keeping our digital assets and infrastructure safe is the Information Security Office. They are charged with the protection of the RIT computer network and the education and training of its users. The office’s engineers and analysts are constantly working to make sure that RIT’s network is as safe as it can be and that it is in-line with industry best practices.

Public Safety is perhaps the most visible of the office. It’s services include escort service,blue-light courtesy call boxes, crime prevention awareness programs and informationaldisplays, bicycle registration and engraving, lost and found, motorist assists, apartment lock-outs, emergency notifications, and fire evacuations the department also provides assistancewith class projects, security surveys, victim and witness assistance, investigations, dignitaryprotection (such as for U.S. Senators or celebrities), incident action plan creation for specialevents, joint drills, business continuity operations, and emergency operations functionsfor the university. Public Safety is in many ways on the front lines for RIT. The departmentis staffed and working 24/7 and often they are the people who are called in any type ofemergency. Check our article from past week about Public Safety to learn more about what they do.

Lastly, the Print & Postal Hub handles all mail services for the institute and offers a variety of printing solutions for RIT offices as well as students and even the general public. Based out of building 99, the Hub is in the process of adding new capabilities so that it will soon be able to print on a variety of media including t-shirts, coffee mugs, mouse pads, and cell phone cases.

John has a few things he’d like students to know and remember. First: Public Safety is here to help everyone at RIT — they are a service organization so use them. Also, make use of available resources such as TigerSafe and the RIT Alert system to help keep you safe and informed. Lastly, keep an eye out for your peers. College can be a stressful time for studentsfor a multitude of reasons. Be a good friend and support and help your peers when they need it.

To learn more about Global Risk Management Services visit