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April 18, 2014
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab

New technology associate provost looks to SRU's future IT needs

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - John Ziegler, Slippery Rock University's new associate provost for information technology, is using his first two weeks on the job to assess the University's current state of technology, determine future needs and examine how better procedures might help improve technology campuswide.

He is also looking to finalize the implementation of a new email system for faculty and staff. An upgrade for students is currently under way.

"What we are trying to do first is put together the governing structure to help get the right groups together to help with advising and offering new and different ideas. We are putting together a number of ideas and people to make technology a real campus effort," Ziegler said.

"We are coming up with a number of ideas to help develop communication planning and strategies. One of the key things we talk about in communication technology all the time is we need to communicate better using our technology. We need to sit down and see how we can communicate some of the different solutions technology can provide and match those to the goals of our organization," Ziegler said.

The associate provost for information technology is responsible for providing leadership and developing, evaluating and implementing all technology policies, programs and processes for both operational and strategic initiatives. Additional responsibilities include facilitating long-range and financial planning for technology solutions that are secure, stable, accessible and affordable and leading a technology staff in the operation of administrative support services, network technology, user support services, enterprise technology, systems development and telecommunications in collaboration with faculty, administration, staff, campus advisory groups and technology providers.

"We want to get our plan reviewed, then go forward with it. Right now we are tackling some things for change management, and that is how we actually bring about change - what processes do we go through. We want people to be informed and to get ready for any changes. We want to make sure we have the right support before we make any changes," he said.

"We are doing a lot of reviewing, just to figure things out, including organizational issues we need to deal with. I am going through the whole infrastructure, learning about services and processes we follow; the different applications we have; and we are preparing for a PASSHE security management system emphasis that is coming up soon," he said.

"Like everyone, we are very interested in and dedicated to cyber-security" he said.

Ziegler said IT is very service oriented, but to some extent that could be an issue for those seeking to hack or misuse the system. People around campus, in an attempt to be helpful, might inadvertently give out information, passwords and other important data that could eventually compromise the entire system. "We need to have safeguards in place," he said.

In looking at upcoming major IT issues, Ziegler said, "We are putting together a number of policies and procedures that will change different things that we do. We are looking to more formalize the organization. We are looking at getting more data on the labs and classrooms and their use. Teaching and learning on this campus carries a huge emphasis, and we want to make sure they are getting the tools that will support them."

"We know there is a strong interest in distance education, so we want to make sure we have the right support resources in place to meet the needs of those students as well," he said.

Ziegler will meet with colleagues next week on the statewide KIMBER project - Keystone Initiative for Network Based Education and Research. The initiative is a non-profit coalition of Pennsylvania's education, research, healthcare, economic development and other non-profit based communities. It is described as an innovative partnership for its anchor institutions and members in the realms of digital resources, regional peering, tele-medicine, high performance computing and network-centric information technology applications.

SRU student access to email is undergoing upgrade, and Ziegler said reviews will be undertaken soon to possibly upgrade SRU faculty and staff email system in similar fashion. The new system would be hosted on "the cloud" and would increase access through mobile phones. "I think people will be very happy with that kind of upgrade," he said.

Ziegler earned his doctorate at Texas Tech University in instructional technology with a concentration in instructional design. He completed his master's degree in museum science at Texas Tech, and his bachelor of science degree in secondary education at Lock Haven University.

Prior to joining Slippery Rock University, he served as executive director for computing services and technology at Duquesne University. He has served as associate vice president for information technology at Emporia State University, as director of training services at Nicholas Consulting Engineers in Reno, Nev., and as senior instructional developer at the University of Nevada.

He was a staff development officer at Texas State Technical College at Waco, served as an instructor at Texas Tech-Lubbock and as a graduate assistant worked at The Museum at Texas Tech.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.