History of Information Technology Services at New River
Until 2007, New River received all technology services from Bluefield State College. House Bill 3215 required the separation of two and four-year colleges and New River began working toward this goal of an independent administrative structure as early as 2007.
But to achieve this, personnel were needed and an entirely new phone and data infrastructure as well as classroom technologies and hosted services. As part of the statewide separation of 2-year colleges from 4-year universities, New River participated in extensive planning with a cohort of representatives from other colleges and universities, with leadership provided by Pat Hunt - the consultant assigned to the project by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and the West Virginia Community and Technical College System.
The primary focus of the group was Banner and to a lesser extent, other enterprise applications.
In just a few years New River (1) created an entirely new data, voice and video network (it went live on August 28, 2009), (2) a new VoIP Cisco phone system was completed on January 29, 2010, and (3) a new virtualized data center was created in June 2011. We implemented a new portal solution (my.newriver.edu) on August 2, 2011 and a new web site redesign project was completed for www.newriver.edu on August 15, 2011. We created 18 IVN classrooms (see diagram) and we have built an IVN support page to centralize IVN support. On September 20, 2013 we cutover 12 of our Internet circuits from multiple vendors to a single vendor to reduce costs and simplify support. We are now establishing an off-site location for disaster recovery and business continuity of online services. In August 2013 we implemented Smart Alerts (notifications sent from Banner to the portal to keep students informed of their personal account changes). A New River mobile application for smart phones was created in 2015. Blackboard Learn 9 replaced ANGEL as our learning management system for the Spring 2014 term (January 13, 2014).
New River Information Technology Services
Dr. David J. Ayersman was hired in July 2007 to oversee technical aspects of distance education but was also assigned the responsibility for overall leadership of technology services for New River. Technicians at each campus location (Steve Butler and Robert Davis at Greenbrier Valley Campus and Jeremy Ball at the Beckley Campus) were then reorganized to report to him and the first centralized technology services organizational structure was formed. Creating a centralized Help Desk was among the first priorities since communication among campuses was difficult and services were not yet being offered in a consistent or timely fashion. Eric Tucker was hired as the Help Desk Manager in March 2008.
At Nicholas County Campus, Adam Argabright provided technical support on a part-time basis. A full-time technician was not assigned to the Nicholas County Campus until Nikki Gregory was hired in April 2009. Roberto Nunez was hired in April 2011 after Nikki left the College. Information Technology Services hasn't changed all that much since these early origins, but key people who have served with us have sometimes been part-time positions. Amy Reese and Josh Baker each worked part-time at the Help Desk on the Beckley Campus for several years. Lora Kosa was hired to manage the Help Desk full-time in August 2012.
Full-time hires in technology services since 2007 have also included Steve Garlow (March 2009), Ralph Payne (April 2009), Patrick Vance (July 2011), Dara Fann (July 2010), and Jason Garris (November 2009). Steve Garlow is our server administrator and Information Security Officer, so he has been crucial in the implementation of an entirely new virtualized data center and two virtualized computer labs.
He's also been a key person to configure the servers for ANGEL (it was hosted at New River) as well as SSRPM (Self-Service Reset Password Manager) and Secunia (our email archive solution).
While we begain with only minimal modules of Banner implemented, once Dara joined our team we began to implement many new services. She has been instrumental in providing (1) online bill pay, (2) online admissions, (3) online registration, (4) banner integration with the portal and Blackboard, and many other new services. Reporting was initially comprised of 30 or so scripts that were provided to us in Query Reporter, but Dara has grown that list of scripts to well over 100 while also migrating to Argos for data reporting.
She continues to work on all things related to Ellucian Banner as well as Argos, DegreeWorks, and the Mobile App for the College.
Jason Garris works closely with her and he has enabled the College to introduce several new services with little to no cost. Jason has created our ID Card system and People Search as well as a number of online schedules and reports. He also manages our DropGuard system and does many other things as Dara's assistant.
The first service that transitioned to New River was actually just desktop computer support, but email was the actual "enterprise service" that was chosen for the initial transition from Bluefield State to New River. The rationale was that communication is critical for all aspects of the overall transition, so this seemed a prudent choice. I think we had over 12,000 mailbox accounts when we completed this transition (about 8,000 more than we should have) and we were using Microsoft Server 2003. The Projects area of our web site provides more information about the many, many initiatives that we've been working on since our beginnings in 2007. But we now use Microsoft Server 2012 for our email and Active Directory. When we migrated all of the New River accounts from Bluefield State College, they were using Exchange only for employees. They had all of their student email accounts on an entirely different platform. We had to create accounts for all of the New River students, once we identified them.
A snapshot of technology services that we provided in 2007 (see 2007 services snapshot), appears as a very basic organization. But comparing that to a similar snapshot in 2011 (see 2011 services snapshot) shows considerable growth. No history is complete without admitting that not all of our actions have been carefully scripted, but instead we have tried to respond to the needs as they've been presented. We've had limited staffing, in spite of the seemingly significant growth since 2007. We still do not have any clerical assistance, we've actually lost a few positions in the past few years as enrollment has declined. Working continuously to support and improve the day-to-day business processes throughout the College has proven to be more of a challenge to technology services than to many other areas of the College. We've also been involved in most of the capital projects that the College has completed during this time. Planning for new locations, and even construction in existing locations, has been an ongoing challenge for us.
We were instrumental in writing the grant proposal that was ultimately funded by the Department of Education in the form of a five-year $2 million Title III project (ending in October 2013). We used much of that funding to completely re-create our Interactive Video Network with 18 classrooms and a robust infrastructure that includes a 24-port MCU and an IPVCR.
This partial history provides some insight to our development, direction, and key initiatives. Our technology services team will continue to keep pace with the rapid growth and needs of the College.