Photo: Lauren Horsch
With frustrated chatter and hurried glances, faculty and staff members entered Bulldog Theater on Tuesday afternoon. They were all there to discuss the problems they had been experiencing on campus with technology.
Drake President David Maxwell and Interim Provost Susan Wright addressed the crowd as an open forum to discuss any frustrations it might have. They both felt a sense of urgency for this meeting and wanted to let the faculty know that they were indeed being heard.
Maxwell’s hope was to have a “conversation, not a performance.”
Wright said that the goal of this forum was to listen to the concerns of faculty members.
The audience of almost 70 remained quiet for a few moments before someone spoke up.
Todd Evans, professor of electronic media, opened up with a question about printing. Evans said the state of printing on campus is not near what it should be for a “so-called exceptional learning environment.” He went on to say that after five weeks on campus, students should not still have troubles with printing or with being charged too much for black and white prints.
“Xerox and Mac (computers) don’t particularly go well together with the software we use,” Evans said.
Wright was the first to address the situation to the audience: “No question, it’s a problem.” She also said that there are at least two or three people working to fix the issues with printing.
Maxwell said the problems with printing on campus were unexpected and should have been fixed immediately.
“No one disagrees with the severity of the situation,” Maxwell said. “No one expected the performance.”
He also said that constant negotiations between Victoria Payseur, vice president of business and finance and treasurer, and the Xerox Corporation happen “almost daily.”
Assistant professor of English Melisa Klimaszewski voiced her frustration about logging into the machine with her banner ID.
“It compromises our personal information that is stored in the banner (ID),” she said. She also brought up how much productivity time she lost because of the issues the printers have caused her.
“The Xerox decision was carried out by a 16-member campus committee,” Maxwell said. “This was done as to have campus-wide input on the decision.”
Payseur also mentioned the committee’s use of town hall meetings before making the decision. Maxwell said he tried to include opinions from all over campus.
“We did try and keep it as open and involved as possible,” Maxwell said.
Klimaszewski disagreed with the university president.
“Maybe large task committees and town hall meetings aren’t working, in terms of how decisions are made,” she said.
A break in serious conversation happened when the audience was asked to raise their hands if they liked the Xerox program. Only a few hands went up.
“I’m surprised it’s the only issue on campus,” Payseur said once the laughs died down.
Rod Henshaw, dean of Cowles Library, brought up the issues the library has been having with the printers and said that there needed to be a discussion of “real alternatives.”
Jennifer Harvey, associate professor of religion, said that the issues aren’t just with the printers, but with the communication and the IT department.
“If we had been informed that we might have been short (on printers) for three months, we might have been more gracious about that,” she said.
She then cited that she has experienced times when the IT department has sent students back to her after they could not figure out the issue. Maxwell responded by saying he is working on a solution.
“I’m getting some clarity on this issue,” Maxwell said.
Further discussion about the printing program focused around the spacing of the printers, queuing issues and not having a pilot program before accepting the deal with Xerox.
Another issue communicated to the administration revolved around the issues with the new blueSky email system and the wireless program.
Andrea Charlow, associate dean and professor of law, said that the email system should have been tested well before it was implemented. She said she has been kicked off the wireless network and email systems multiple times.
“It’s been an incredible waste of time and frustration,” she said. She also said her frustration stems from the work that the Drake technology help desk has been doing. Charlow has had students sent back to her after the help desk couldn’t figure out problems, or after the issues had been ignored completely.
Later discussions revolved around he implementation of a J-Term and the Friday sessions of first-year seminar courses.
Debra Bishop, assistant professor of management who teaches two FYS courses, said that she sees a lot of frustration among students. She has heard from students that they do not see any sufficient value in the Friday sessions.
At the end of the forum, Maxwell reminded faculty and staff that he can’t fix problems facing the institution if no one is speaking up. Wright agreed with this notion.
“Communication has to be a two-way process,” Wright said.
Maxwell said he learned a lot from this forum and would like to have more in the future.