Information Technology Improvements at WCU

This spring and summer the Information Technology Division has been instituting a number of changes that will enhance services for students. First, we are finalizing arrangements to include students in the University’s Microsoft license agreement. What this means is that WCU students will be able to get the Office Professional software suite for free, along with the upgrades to Office and the Windows operating system. Students can keep this software, if they graduate from WCU. We are still working out how to distribute the software. This will reduce the purchase cost of the PC for students and also should ensure that students’ software can be kept current.Also, we are evaluating a new email service for students. WCU student email is currently hosted on an aging VMS machine that has limited capabilities. We are investigating two externally hosted services. Even though these services are externally hosted, they can use the domain in the address. Students will have more descriptive email addresses that include their initials and last name. We will be able to provide greater storage space. In addition, students will be able to keep their WCU email address after they graduate. We anticipate implementing this service during the fall semester. Students will have a semester or more to move from the old system to the new one.We are doing a major upgrade of the campus networking infrastructure which will provide faster, more reliable service by eliminating some bottlenecks and segmenting the network into smaller nodes. The new technology will also allow us to maintain the network more effectively and identify and resolve problems more quickly.In addition we are upgrading and expanding the wireless network coverage on campus. We will be replacing access points with newer technology and increasing the saturation of the wireless coverage. We will also be adding wireless to some buildings and areas that currently do not have wireless. You can keep current on the status of wireless coverage on campus by going to SCT Banner implementation is a major project for this summer. Some of the work this summer is implementing systems students don’t normally see, but will be affected by. We are converting the Financial Records System to Banner. We are also doing a major conversion to a new version of Banner which should be easier for everyone to use. Lastly, we will be using Banner and a system known as Resource 25 which should make scheduling of classrooms more efficient.This summer IT is also managing the redesign process for the campus Web site. This is a major effort and we are working with one of the best firms in the country, mStoner. They specialize in college and university web sites.The IT Division plans to contribute at least one article for each issue of the Western Carolinian, as one means of keeping students and others informed of what we are doing. If there are projects, future direction questions or issues you would like IT to address here, please send them to me, Bil Stahl, Associate Provost and Chief Information Officer, at