Office of

Information Technology | Annual Report 2015-16

The 2015-2016 Office of Information Technology Annual Report provides an overview of the significant accomplishments of the department from July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2016, as well as goals for the fiscal year 2017. The Office of Information Technology (OIT) made critical infrastructure upgrades and enhancements during the previous fiscal year. Changes in the 2015-16 fiscal year are more apparent to our campus community with the transition to an Institutional Email and Office 365 collaboration platform, for both staff and students. Additionally, the launching of Student Planning and Financial Aid has improved accces and effectiveness of IT Services.

OIT is dedicated to delivering reliable, secure, and innovative technology to the Brookdale community while serving the mission of the College. In the materials that follow, we report on our accomplishments which were possible through the collaboration with a broad spectrum of Brookdale executives and stakeholders.

Mission


The Office of Information Technology’s mission is to provide services and support the systems Brookdale students, faculty, and staff need to succeed.

Highlights


Office 365 Migration

A College-wide migration from on-premise Exchange Staff Email and hosted Student Gmail accounts to Microsoft’s cloud-based Office 365 collaboration suite began Fall 2015 and was completed by March 2016. This strategic initiative provides a flexible, extensible cloud computing platform that will support the growing needs of Brookdale for years to come.

OIT implemented a phased migration of Office 365. The migration schedule was a coordinated effort between OIT, Registration, Student Sucess, Innovation Center, College Relations, and Divisional Heads to ensure continuity of critical services and to reduce the impact to the college’s business processes. In October 2016, over a three-week period, approximately 2,500 Staff and Faculty accounts were migrated with minor disruption in services. The Student transition from Gmail to Office 365 took place in March 2016. OIT transitioned over 70,000 Student Email accounts. The transition was a far more complicated process that involved the synchronized coordination of multiple critical systems. Automated processes that create and manage student email accounts as part of the admission workflow in Colleague and Active Directory, were configured to accommodate the transition to Office 365.

This strategic initiative created a centralized email platform for Brookdale. Students, Faculty, and Staff can utilize Microsoft’s Office 365’s collaboration environments and cloud-based tools to work and learn more efficiently. Also, Brookdale Students, Faculty, and Staff have 1TB of cloud storage in a OneDrive for Business account and can install the most current version of the Microsoft Office suite of applications on personal computers, tablets and mobile devices for free.



Network and Infrastructure Improvements

Mid-year 2015, OIT networking completed infrastructure upgrades and renovations to Gorman Hall. Brookdale’s fiber backbone increased tenfold, from 1G to 10G. The upgrade to the backbone is an essential component as it positions Brookdale to take full advantage of new emerging technologies that support interactive and evolving teaching and learning environments. Expansion of Desktop Virtualization (VDI desktop), replacement of our aging wireless network, streaming video in HD for designated classrooms and deployment of Unified Communication is now possible and steering the focus of OIT 2016-17 priorities.

To date, more than 215 traditional desktop computers in 11 labs have been replaced with Virtualized Thin Client machines, capable of delivering a full suite of various academic applications and software to faculty and students on demand. VDI desktops can also be accessed off campus from any computer with Internet access, thereby extending the learning boundaries beyond the campus with 24/7 access. VDI technology has many advantages. VDI reduces energy costs. Thin clients consume less power than the traditional desktop computers. Additionally, VDI allows for centralized and streamlined management of the labs, only the VDI server requires maintenance and upgrade. VDI improves the overall security of the network. In a VDI environment, all software and data reside on the server, making endpoint security a non-issue. There is no software to become infected with malware.

In late summer 2016, OIT completed the implementation of the new wireless upgrade and deployment of Phase I of the Unified Communications, the telephone upgrade. For additional information on these current initiates, refer to the OIT Projects page.



General Ledger Restructuring Improvements

When institutions undergo a reorganization, the business processes that support the organization must align with the new organizational model. OIT provided the technical knowledge and assistance to the department of Finance and Operations needed to align the Colleague ERP System to the new institutional structure. The new GL structure reflects the new Adacedmic Institutes and operational departments.

The General Ledger is the core of Brookdale’s financial records. A well-defined General Ledger results in more accurate financial reporting and helps guide better management decisions. OIT worked closely with Finance and Operations to redesign the underlying structure of the GL Chart of Accounts to align fiscal reporting with the college’s new organizational structure. Within a three month period, the new GL Chart of Accounts was developed, configured and implemented within the Colleague ERP System.

The GL restructuring project was presented at the 2016 Ellucian Live Conference by Maureen Lawrence, Vice President of Finance and Operations, Camille Shelley, Executive Director-Office of Information Technology and George Sotirion, Project Manager.



Colleague Financial Aid

OIT worked with Financial Aid to transition from PowerFaids to Colleague Financial Aid. The advantages of transitioning to Colleague Financial Aid, include the full integration with the College's ERP and the ability to provide Self-Service Financial Aid for Students. This initiative was a part of the Colleague ERP Re-Engineering Project that aligns with the vision of advancing Brookdale’s strategic goals and objectives by improving how people, processes and technology interact across the institution. The project goals include positioning Brookdale to take full advantage of the current and future features of the Colleague ERP System, creating an environment that can quickly react to meet the ever changing needs of the institution, improving the student experience, increasing workforce productivity, and improving performance

Colleague® Self-Service Financial Aid is an intuitive, self-service web based solution that guide students, step-by-step, through the process of applying for and accepting the financial aid they need to achieve their academic goals. Students can view a financial aid checklist that specifies all the steps and their proper sequence that students need to pursue financial aid in a particular year.

While students can quickly determine what they need to complete their aid package, a parallel benefit is that staff members can also see the details of completed and incomplete documents on the Required Documents page. Colleague Financial Aid helps Financial Aid advisors understand when they need to move the application along in the process and when to nudge students for more material. If they have questions, a link connects them to the student’s financial aid advisor, so they get the answers they need quickly. Additionally, counselors see the same information students see, so they can provide relevant, timely support.

Accomplishments

SERVER VIRTUALIZATION

Server Virtualization is a technology for partitioning one physical server into multiple “virtual” servers. The virtual servers can run separate operating systems and applications, entirely independent from the physical server. There are several advantages for deploying virtualized server environments. Virtualization reduces the total cost of ownership for hardware, maintenance, and energy consumption. It improves business continuity by supporting live migration where virtual servers can be migrated to another physical server for tasks such as performing maintenance on the physical servers without shutting them down.

OIT Networking expanded existing server virtualization environment from four to seven blades. This expansion will allow for additional virtualized servers to be deployed and has enabled OIT to migrate all of the aging Windows 2003 File Servers, Domain Controllers and Applications server from physical systems to virtual systems.

STUDENT PLANNING

Student Planning Self-Service officially launched in the Spring of 2016 for all Brookdale Students. Student Planning is a web-based solution that is integrated with the Colleague ERP System and helps students clarify, plan, and track a course of study to progress more confidently to a degree. OIT, in collaboration with the Dean of Student Services, Admissions and Registration, Counseling and Advising, began implementation in the Spring of 2014 which required a significant amount of data clean-up, and re-evaluation and definition of co-requisites/pre-requisites for degree requirements.

The solution helps improve the quality of interaction between students and advisors, and will enable Brookdale to map course offerings more effectively and offer the courses students want and need. Student Planning is designed to accelerate time to degree by offering effective communications, appropriate engagement and intervention, and strategic planning solutions that can help make measurable progress toward better student outcomes.

EXPANSION OF ONECARD SERVICES

In the summer of 2015, the Pharos Pay-for-Print System was implemented in the Bankier Library and Freehold campus. All other regional locations were completed in early Fall of 2015. Pay-for-Print is a printing service that integrates with the Blackboard Transact System, and allows students and community members to pay for printing using their Brookdale OneCard or Community Guest Card. Students can transfer money into their Brookdale Bucks OneCard account by either using the Brookdale OneCard mobile app, online transfer deposit, or from one of the Phil Stations located in the Bankier Library and Student Life Center. Pay-for-Print has resulted in a significant reduction of paper use and printing costs, and is showing a steady revenue stream.

AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

Human Resources, Payroll, and various administrators, in collaboration with the Office of Information Technology, met on a weekly basis to implement the new Affordable Care Act (ACA) module within the Colleague ERP System. The Colleague ACA module allows Brookdale to measure hourly, part-time, adjunct faculty, seasonal, and temporary employees in compliance with the ACA regulations to ensure that Brookdale offers appropriate health coverage to all employees who meet the ACA definition of a full-time employee.

By reviewing and modifying employment workflows, as well as defining employee categories and associated calculation definitions within the ACA module, Human Resources was able to track and measure employees hours of service. All staff identified as being full-time and eligible for health benefits received a Form 1095-C.

COLLEAGUE ERP RE-ENGINEERING

Several goals of the Colleague ERP Re-Engineering Project were completed this year.

  • Developed daily Enrollment and Applicant Summary Reports. Also, detailed reports are used to facilitate outreach to applicants and active students, and manage the Early Bird program.
  • Continuing and Professional Studies now uses Registration and Payment workflow and e-commerce in Colleague to process credit card payments. These processes allow for immediate confirmation of payment, less running around for in-person registrants, and reduces the number of payments processed by Accounts Receivable.
  • Implemented the new Student Requisite Waiver Process and improved the Student Overload Petition Process. The petition allows registration through Colleague UI, Student Planning or WebAdvisor; no longer requiring that an overload override is performed by Registration Staff.
  • Completed a series of software upgrades and testing cycles to comply with National Student Clearinghouse reporting requirements associated with Gainful Employment.

HARDWARE DEPLOYMENT

OIT’s User Service Department supports and maintains over 5000 computers, laptops, printers, projection systems, and mobile devices on the Lincroft Campus and Regional Locations.

In addition to hardware support, User Service manages all updates and software installations. User services successfully deployed a program to encrypt laptops and store that information within Active Directory, thus making laptops and institutional data they may contain more secure, in the event the device is lost or stolen.

2016-17 Priorities

Unified Communications

A major OIT initiative currently underway is the installation of the Unified Communications (UC) Platform. UC technology platform integrates, IP telephony, instant messaging, web conferencing, audio, and video. The goal of UC is to create a single platform that supports synchronous and asynchronous communication providing end-users access to a variety of tools from whatever computing device they may choose to use while on campus. OIT began implementation the UC Platform upgrade June 2016.

Self-Service and Mobility

Self-service and mobility can increase productivity and satisfaction across the campus community by empowering students, faculty, and staff with the means to access important information at any time, from anywhere, using the device of their choice. The implementation of new enhancements and functionality within the following applications will support this endeavor.

Colleague Self-Service

Students need help navigating degree requirements, payment options, and the financial aid process; while staff and counselors need to spend their time more efficiently and strategically. Colleague Self-Service provides online information that keeps everyone on track and up to speed. Some of the new enhancements include person proxy, immediate payment control, faculty grading, and attendance tracking.

Brookdale’s Mobile App

The Brookdale mobile app helps extend our digital campus by providing real-time integration with our Colleague ERP System to deliver high-demand information that our students, faculty, and staff need. Some of the new enhancements include views of student financials, notifications, integration with third-party native applications, and single sign-on to web applications.

Colleague User Interface

Colleague User Interface 5.0 (UI5) is scheduled to be released mid-to-late September 2016. Using industry standard web controls, Colleague UI5 offers a modern, intuitive interface that improves users’ ability to access the information they need to succeed. This includes enhanced navigation with drop-down menus, drag and drop capability, and radio buttons. UI5 also delivers greater mobility and accessibility to staff by allowing Colleague administrative functionality on a tablet. UI5 will replace Silverlight with HTML 5, angularjs, and css, which will be compatible with all major browsers, including IE, Edge, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari (MAC).

Colleague Payment Plans

Recent enhancements to Colleague’s Payment Plan module will make it easier for Brookdale to maintain their own payment plans in house. Payment Plans within Colleague can now be batch created, modified, and canceled. Students can view and pay on their plans online using Student Finance Self-Service. Communications Management can be used to send out important payment plan information and e-statements.

25Live Scheduling Software

Now that the college’s scheduling software has been successfully migrated to a cloud-based SaaS solution, the next phase will be to implement the varied campus-wide class and event scheduling capabilities of 25Live. 25Live enables event planners and academic schedulers to search dates and venues, and schedule campus space and resources all in one program. It also enables automatic posting and display of scheduled events to e-calendars throughout campus.

SQL Migration

As a first step towards a SQL migration, we will be migrating the Colleague ERP System from a Unix to a Linux platform. As the college’s mission-critical UNIX server is nearing its end-of-life cycle, the move to Linux is a much more cost-effective alternative and more robust operating system.

By The Numbers

Our Services

Technology Leadership

The Technology Leadership Team is responsible for developing an Information Technology strategic direction that is aligned with and supports the Brookdale Community College mission. The Technology Leadership team recommends, reviews, promotes, and sponsors, when applicable, information technology projects that have an enterprise-wide impact. Leadership is also responsible for managing and directing all information technology resources, addressing infrastructure and operational issues, and identifing and evaluating new and emerging technologies.

IT Help Desk

The Help Desk is the central point of contact for all Information Technology issues. The Help Desk is available 24x7, 365. All inquiries to the Help Desk are entered and tracked in the ServiceNow system. Requests to the Help Desk are made by phone or email. The Help Desk support staff are trained technicians who can provide support for many of the technology issues. If the Help Desk technician cannot resolve a problem, they will direct your question to the appropriate Information Technology area for resolution. The Help Desk’s goal is to provide excellent customer support for resolving information technology related issues for Brookdale students, faculty and staff. The preferred method of contacting the IT Helpdesk is via email at helpdesk.brookdalecc.edu.

Applications

The Enterprise Applications team provides development, maintenance, integration, and daily support for the college’s mission-critical Colleague ERP System, and the ongoing evolution of its implementation and use. Systems supported include the Student System, Financial System, Human Resources System, and other ancillary enterprise applications which support the day-to-day operations of the college.

Networking & Telecommunications

Networking is responsible for the design, implementation, security, redundancy, reliability and management of the Brookdale’s technology infrastructure telecommunications, and VoIP services, and Enterprise license applications. The infrastructure consists of the wired and wireless networks, physical security, firewalls, routers, switches and access control, data center, VM systems, and SAN storage. The Networking team's primary function is to support the technology services connecting students, faculty, and staff to Brookdale’s Information Technology Resources and the Internet.

User Services

User Services is responsible for triaging and processing technology related requests, resolving technical problems, providing end-user desktop support, and maintaining the computers and laptops on all campuses, including administrative and instructional technologies. User Services personnel are highly trained technicians committed to providing excellent customer support and efficiently resolving technical problems.