May 2023 Update from CISJune 9, 2023
Short handed in User Services
As the semester wound down, we lost some people in User Support Services. As you know from an earlier message, Sam Washington’s last day was June 2. In addition, Seher Yuksel, who was a huge help to us, graduated from CGU and returned to her native Turkey. Gaylord Fajardo did not complete his probationary period. The result is that we are short three people in User Support. It can take time to build a team back up, so we are fortunate that there are fewer events and classes during the summer months. Nevertheless, the situation may have some impact on you:
- The Help Desk may not be open during all of our official hours.
- We may not have all of our usual communication channels open all at the same time ( chat, email, phone, walk-in).
- We may be slower to respond (but we aim to continue meeting our target of a real person getting in touch within one business day).
- We do have students starting up summer jobs, so you may encounter them more often than you would otherwise. Please be patient as they learn the ropes.
- To help prioritize requests and identify high priority and urgent needs, if you find yourself unable to continue working because of an IT related issue, please alert the CIS Management Team (email@example.com).
Please note that this situation may have an impact on services from other parts of CIS as well.
Formstack timeline and schedule
We will not be renewing our contract with Formstack, which comes due in August. The savings will go toward the cost of Kuali Build. We have been in contact with the people who currently hold accounts in Formstack, asking for their help with the disposition of old forms and data and alerting them about our plans to delete everything. Of course, some forms are still needed and we are helping with rebuilding them in either Kuali Build, Google or Microsoft. Watch for emails from us about that, or send questions to the Help Desk.
What we’re working on this summer
As Commencement came and went, we were ramping up for summer projects. A lot of sentences began with “after May 16th, we will need to….”. I know this is the experience of a lot of the other departments on campus too. We’re excited by the work, even if there is a lot of it. Here’s a sampling:
- Continuing Canvas migrations (Elizabeth tells me that they have worked with almost 25% of the faculty so far)
- Kuali Build roll out
- WiFi – we are working closely with TCCS and Cisco to build for a better situation by start of Fall
- Garrett House renovation – we are working with TCCS and F&M to get the Garrett house wired up for its new role as a residence hall
- Audio visual upgrades in Shanahan – if you are in there, look up at the ceilings and you’ll see the new ceiling boxes being installed
- Hiring (see above about being short handed)
- Google Storage reduction
- Expanding Firewall services to the Computer Science department
- Preparing for the Anthology project (see below)
- Preparing for the annual visit from the Financial Auditors
- Building up our goals for 23-24
Phew! People are fitting in vacations too! If you have questions about any of the work above, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can also read about our projects on the IT Projects page
Welcoming our Summer Interns
We are delighted that our new group of Summer Interns has arrived. Their first week was Sam’s last week and she spent a lot of time introducing them to our operations, the A/V systems and to Kuali Build. It’s always so great to have students working closely with us. This year we have:
- Ismail Kavuran
- Moyo Oyedeji-Olaniyan
- Nataly Mayison
- Rachel Lee
- Simi Vora
Students, if you ever thought about working at CIS, that’s your list of contacts to find out what the work is like.
Registrar Mark Ashley, who is our HMC representative on the Student Information Systems Executive Committee (SIS Exec) recently gave many of us that were involved with the Workday Student project a heads up that the 5Cs are moving forward with Anthology Student as our replacement for the Jenzabar Portal and database. Anthology was chosen after a painstaking review of the rather limited options available to us, reviews by different functional areas of its capacity, discussions with intercollegiate committees such as the Academic Deans Committee and the Business and Financial Affairs committee, and the Claremont Colleges Presidents Council.
Please look out for an official announcement soon, as it will have more details about the plans for the project. From what I have seen so far, this is a very exciting piece of news. The situation in Claremont, with five separate institutions working together to provide a cross registration experience like no other, is a challenge for any out-of-the-box Student Information System. But the demonstrations we’ve seen and the technical discussions I’ve been a party to, gave me a sense that Anthology will be able to meet our needs. One more exciting plant in our garden of software applications!
Tips and Tricks
This month I’d like to share a cybersecurity tip and an invitation.
The cybersecurity tip involves two tools. It’s important to reframe our thinking about security and shake off the tendency to believe that data is safe if it is stored “here”, but “not there” (eg. In Symplicity Residence, but not in a google sheet, or in Workday but not in a report on my laptop). Data moves all the time and it needs to be protected everywhere it goes. A lot of our confidential and sensitive data travels around in Excel format, the first of our two tools. The HMC policy on Safeguarding Confidential and Sensitive Information requires us to encrypt data whenever feasible. If you are sending confidential or sensitive information in Excel, it is easy to encrypt (aka password protect) the file. The four simple steps are outlined in this Microsoft Support page. The second tool is LastPass, which the College provides for your use. It can generate a strong password, but did you know that it can also be used to share a password with another person? That solves the problem of communicating the password when you are sending encrypted data to someone else. It’s taken me way longer to write this paragraph than it would take to password protect a file and then share the password via LastPass. So please consider doing that next time you want to share confidential or sensitive data.
And the invitation…what with vacations and remote work, it can sometimes be the case that your office (or my cubicle!) can be kind of lonely. And sometimes it is easier to work when there are people around you who are also working. Why not grab your laptop and come hang out in the CIS lounge on the top floor of Sprague? We have incredible views, coffee and tea, snacks and often home baked goods. In passing, you could always try out the cybersecurity tip in the company of friendly CIS staff. If this idea appeals to you, come by CIS on Mondays or Wednesdays from 11-1pm. See you there!
On behalf of all in CIS, I wish you a great month of June.