Office of Information Technology
Annual Report 2019-2020
We work collaboratively to empower our community of students, faculty, and staff through technology.
OIT partners with administrative and academic units to ensure that Portland State University has the technology it needs to be a competitive academic and research institution.
This report highlights some of our accomplishments during the 2019-2020 academic year, in the following areas:
Our teams focus on improving the student experience by designing and developing solutions that put students' needs first.
We created the Virtual Computer Lab (VLAB), expanding access to specialized software for students. All PSU students now have access to a variety of software, required for degree completion and research projects, from any personal internet-connected device.
We updated myPSU with student resources for the remote spring term, including a new browsable archive of all PSU email communications to students.
We created Help Center resources for remote school and work, with just two weeks’ notice of the remote spring term, while collaborating with other campus units to consolidate and streamline communications.
We shifted our student workforce to create an additional support team for online learning technologies and platforms. This new team supplements the OIT Helpdesk and OAI Support desk, and has taken thousands of calls to assist campus in the use of Zoom, D2L, and other online learning tools.
We expanded our Classroom AV services to include dual-delivery support, for courses being taught simultaneously to on-campus and remote students. We also introduced dedicated Zoom Technician support for faculty teaching large enrollment courses.
We introduced PSU Class Time, a feature that lists all course schedules for students and faculty in Google Calendar. Instructors can share course information and Zoom links through the calendar to make the details of remote learning easier and more clear.
We partnered with the Library to transition the formerly on-campus Lending Program to a new home delivery service to ensure a successful remote year. We provided expanded stock of laptops and Chromebooks, headsets, webcams, MiFis, Wacom tablets, and document cameras for PSU students, faculty, and staff.
Working with the Undergraduate and Graduate Admissions offices, we implemented Slate, a recruitment and admissions software solution designed to enhance the student experience with our campus.
We introduced Tableau, a data visualization and self-service reporting tool, to license holders across the campus. As part of the initial release in June, we created a new Students First Dashboard for monitoring progress of student success metrics.
We implemented chat solutions supporting faster response times to students and staff, for several departments across campus, including: Financial Aid, Registrar's Office, Human Resources, Career Center, Transfer and Returning Student Center, Global Diversity and Inclusion, TAPS, CLAS Dean’s Office, CLAS ESM, and CUPA Public Administration.
We created a new interactive Campus Map with improved web accessibility and mobile responsiveness for easy use on-the-go. The map now also includes live transit times and a new safety layer, to help students navigate campus.
We partnered with the Office of Academic Innovation to pilot and test PSU’s next generation of Learning Management Systems (LMS). Selected PSU faculty tested two new tools to teach sections of courses they had previously taught using D2L, then students and faculty were surveyed for their feedback.
We created a predictive model to match student course history with degrees offered at PSU. This model, launched in partnership with Amazon Web Services, helps students compare degree path options to take advantage of their academic progress and graduate on time.
We used analytics to evaluate the impact of curriculum structure choices on the complexity that students face, to help academic units make their paths more clear and straightforward.
In OIT, we’re focused on enabling our staff to do what they do best every day.
We’ve been included in Computerworld’s Best places to work in IT for four years in a row, an award supported by our positive culture and historically high employee engagement scores.
As an organization funded at 60 to 70% of our peers, we believe we’ve achieved our success by developing a culture of caring that supports our employees, even as we focus on efficiencies and run lean.
Our leadership team prepared clear guidelines to support employees as they quickly pivoted to remote work, with resources such as Effective Practices for Remote Meetings and Effectively Managing Remote Teams.
We also created resources such as Google Hangouts for Remote Meetings and the Employee Guide to Working Remotely, to help guide campus in the use of remote work tools and best practices during the rapid transition due to COVID-19.
Our staff, management, and leadership teams employed intentional and consistent communication efforts to help better understand the needs and barriers we faced due to COVID-19. We scheduled monthly all-OIT staff meetings to provide opportunities for questions and discussion. We also scheduled daily stand-up manager meetings immediately following the transition to remote work, that now occur on a bi-monthly basis.
With the COVID-19 restrictions on travel, we supported our employees in a variety of online trainings. Our managers were able to reach and grow in new directions, affording them a more well-rounded management experience contributing to the health and well being of their employees.
Our hiring and recruitment practices continued to have excellent feedback from new employees, hiring managers, and campus partners alike. On a scale of 1 to 10, our new employees rank us…
In OIT, we value more than technical skills in our employees and contribute to PSU's justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives.
Our Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Committee provides a space for OIT employees to address inclusion-related topics and make recommendations to our leadership team. The committee helps plan events and trainings to further an inclusive environment in OIT.
This year we hosted a four month White Fragility book study for staff that consisted of reading and debriefing Robin DiAngelo’s book with racial justice facilitator John Lenssen.
We also advertised and encouraged staff to attend other JEDI-related sessions offered in the community such as Whiteness at Work, Cultural Consciousness & Connections: How Culture Matters in Portland, the Advancing the Careers of Technical Women (ACT-W) annual conference, and more.
In addition to technical skills, we look for Attributes for Success in our employees. We believe that emotional intelligence should be the foundation of everything we do, including how we understand and communicate our expectations and values in OIT.
We emphasize these attributes when hiring—in position descriptions, job advertisements, and interviews. We also include these attributes in performance evaluations for existing OIT employees, and in our internal employee acknowledgement program.
As part of the Name in Use Committee, a collaboration between OIT, HR, GDI, RO, QRC, OIRP, FA, SFS, and RGS, we were recognized as a Distinguished Team in the President's Diversity Awards for our efforts to improve underrepresented students’ accessibility and access to campus life.
With the First Name Override project, we redesigned our technology so that students, faculty, and staff can affirm their gender identity in PSU systems by specifying a different first name, without the requirement of a legal name change. Updated first names now populate in all associated systems, such as Banweb, D2L, Google Mail, and myPSU.
We actively participate in University efforts to improve accessibility as a long-term member of the University Accessibility Committee.
This year, we committed to building digital accessibility competencies across campus by hosting and funding membership for twelve employees in the International Association of Accessibility Professionals. We also developed an in-house Digital Accessibility Basics training series required for all existing and new content authors for their transition to the new PSU website.
These efforts, as well as our coordination of the Digital Accessibility Workgroup, significantly increased the exposure of digital accessibility requirements and needs across campus.
Our work supports efforts to simplify processes across campus, reduce the time to complete procedures, and improve the student, faculty, and staff experience.
We developed a new Information Security Policy aligned with national standards and best practices to meet the needs of the institution and better position us to protect student data, support research, and other compliance requirements.
We published a Service Catalog to help the PSU community get the information technology services they need more quickly and easily. The service catalog consolidates our resources so everyone can see what's available, request services, ask for changes, get help or training, and find the right documentation all in one place.
We redesigned the long-standing Atlas of Oregon Lakes website in collaboration with PSU’s Center for Lakes and Reservoirs and department of Geography. The new app presents important field study data for over 1,000 Oregon water bodies in a modern, fast, and beautiful interface.
We implemented a new process for desktop software license purchasing, which streamlines and simplifies the yearly Adobe Creative Cloud license renewal process. Departments can now more quickly and easily purchase a variety of software directly from the ePSU Marketplace.
We developed a new interface to prevent the creation of duplicate identity records in Banner. The new interface saves administrators time by showing all required information on a single screen, rather than showing multiple Banner forms for each potential identity match.
In collaboration with University Financial Services, we developed Viking PRO (personal reimbursements online) for staff and faculty across campus to submit personal reimbursement forms and receipts digitally through OnBase.
We designed an Accessible Technology Procurement Review process with a sub-group of the University Accessibility Committee, to support and inform departments of potential impacts that new technology choices can have on people with varied abilities.
We facilitated the automation of workflows and approvals through implementations of OnBase for projects such as the Academic Requirements Committee Petition and the McNair Scholarship Application, resulting in employee time savings and a reduction in paper use.
Our teams are committed to ensuring PSU students, faculty, and staff have access to the best possible technology.
We designed and tested Zoom Classrooms, which allow instructors to teach on-campus and remote students synchronously, and record their lectures for use later. This solution provides consistent access to streaming and recording functionality in PSU’s busiest teaching spaces.
We accelerated the release of the Google Voice phone service, in response to COVID-19. Google Voice improves mobility and flexibility for faculty and staff by providing call and text functionality with their PSU phone number on mobile devices, web browsers, and traditional desk phones.
We updated the technology of twenty-three general pool classrooms in Cramer Hall, Lincoln Hall, Ondine, Broadway Housing, Science Research Technology Center, and Science Building 1.
In collaboration with CPC and other campus partners, we designed and installed technology in the new Fariborz Maseeh Hall, including: a new computer lab space, advanced classroom technology, and extensive Wi-Fi coverage throughout. We also moved the OIT Helpdesk from the basement of SMSU to the FMH lobby, where it is now co-located with other student services.
We replaced the Role-Based Access Requests (RBAR) system with OAM Access Requests (OAR) by moving the access request form, backend structures, and associated workflows into existing Identity and Access Management infrastructure. OAR allows for easy addition of new systems and flexible workflows.
We implemented Rave Alert, a new mass communication tool, in collaboration with Emergency Management, CPSO, HR, and University Communications. Rave Alert has been used to send many high-priority emails to students, faculty, and staff during PSU’s COVID-19 response and Work Share program.
We implemented a two-factor authentication (2FA) requirement for all employees, to better protect the security of their accounts and sensitive university data. This aligns PSU with national standards and industry best practices.
We worked closely with the Registrar’s Office to implement a major upgrade to Ad Astra, the classroom scheduling tool. This migration moved the tool to the cloud, improved its stability and reliability, and opened the door to future process improvements.
We worked with our Library partners to leverage existing centralized infrastructure services, so Library IT employees can focus on technology that directly serves the Library’s mission. We migrated network shared drives to OIT-managed servers, and helped Library staff transition to desktops, laptops, and printers with standard configurations supported by OIT.
We collaborated with campus and regional partners to write three successful NSF Campus Cyberinfrastructure awards. Our Research Computing manager coordinated this partnership to win $400,000 in computational equipment, and authored sections of the Team Award. Our ACIO partnered on the successful Planning Award that will explore building a regional Cloud-integrated high performance compute environment.
Our teams join together to find new ways of working and supporting campus during periods of rapid change and uncertainty.
We rapidly shifted a diverse population of student and staff teams to remote call center operations. In about one week, we configured all major call centers for student support to take calls from home, including: Financial Aid, the OIT Helpdesk, and the Registrar’s Office. We also worked with our call center partners to provide desktops, monitors, and headsets for call center agents.
We added options for remote desktop support appointments, offering scheduled support to the campus community, wherever they are. In addition to our existing on-campus scheduled support option, everyone can now book appointments for screenshare-based support or request a call back at a scheduled time.
We scaled Zoom from being a little-used replacement for a tool in D2L, to a core application used across campus. To meet this new demand, we rolled out quick changes including new security protocols, system integrations, and classroom deployment.
We collaborated with SHAC and the Counseling program in the College of Education to enable telehealth appointments using our Zoom video conferencing system. Counselors and health providers can now hold appointments remotely with students, while ensuring appropriate levels of security and privacy.
With the shift to working from home and remote learning, our remote network access VPN system would not be capable of handling the increased load. We repurposed existing equipment from a previous project and worked with the vendor to obtain the necessary licensing at no additional cost.
We implemented a new Virtual Session tour type in Tourman, the custom PSU application, when Enrollment Management moved to virtual tours due to COVID-19. This solution was in place from March through August 2020, when it was replaced by Slate.
We modified our support of events from in-person to remote webinar-style offerings. This includes support for: Board of Trustee meetings, the CLAS dean search, Public Health Seminars, Convocation, Faculty Senate, Campus Town Halls, and numerous student, cultural, and academic events.
We created an interface for enrolled students to request assistance with costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. An interactive review process determines if the student is eligible to receive assistance from the federally funded COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund.
With the move to all-online instruction and remote work for most employees, many desktops and laptops would be used exclusively off campus. We tested and deployed additional VPN capabilities to enable people to log in to newly-provisioned devices from off campus.
We enhanced Online Leave and Banweb Timesheets to accommodate the new COVID-19 leave codes, and allow PSU employees to report this leave in compliance with federal government reporting requirements.
We transitioned from live commencement production for the smaller college and school-specific ceremonies, to working on the first-ever virtual commencement. Our teams supported virtual commencement through significant video production, composition, and editing.
In the 2020 Computerworld Top IT Places to Work, we ranked 26th among large organizations.