The Information Technology Services (ITS) department values its role in supporting information technology at the College-- for data, systems and networks, educational applications, security, graphic arts services, and explorations of new potentials in technology. I have the privilege of working with a talented staff of 55 professionals whose expertise and dedication make possible the wide range of services the ITS department provides. They are truly the core of the College’s investment in technology. We follow in our work the central tenets of the College’s mission: integrity and responsibility in everything we do, openness to change and honesty about errors, assistance, encouragement in our work with the Holy Cross community, and economy in our use of College resources.
I believe that well planned and managed information technology can help the College move forward in enhancing our teaching and learning and achieving goals across the Institution. We still have most of the tasks we’ve always had: installation and maintenance of equipment; support of software and data; training, advice, and assistance to all who use the College’s technologies; and protection of information stored in our systems or passing through our network.
We also look to the future, exploring new developments in technology, looking for the right Holy Cross fit, and challenging our ways of thinking about the work we do. The future in technology is notoriously hard to predict, but we need to see ahead as best we can. That vision is essential to proper planning. The importance of technology for the College requires that we find the right balance between stability and innovation. We need to evolve our capabilities and at the same time ensure the reliability and continuity of what we have built.
I believe in a patient but determined progress. We find the the right pace of change through our interactions with the Holy Cross community, listening to the needs of our user community, and being thoughtful about the technologies we choose and the pace of adoption. I invite you to read our plan to learn about the four strategic directions that will focus our efforts in the next seven to ten years: Educational Technology, Data, Security, and Leadership in Technology Innovation. I and the entire ITS organization look forward to partnering with others across the College and beyond the Institution. It is an exciting time to be in higher education IT.
A1 . We are committed to integrity, candor, help, support and responsibility.
A2 . We respond with understanding, refelction, humulity, and willingness to change.
A3 . We are guided by honesty, assistance, encouragement and civility.
A4 . We seek economy, sustainability, justice, responsiveness, sharing and responsibility.
Information Technology Services provides the infrastructure and support necessary to enable the College community, including faculty, staff, and students, to use technology to enhance teaching and student learning and to support the College’s administrative and business operations and mission of the College.
We are a staff of 55, supporting all forms of information technology throughout campus, including network infrastructure and administration, administrative systems, help desk, desktop services, computer labs, classroom support, computer training, print services, web services, database management, and educational technology. In keeping with Holy Cross’s values, we are open to new ideas in our areas of responsibility, diligent in working through the changes and uncertainty inherent in our fast-moving profession, and attentive to the many information technology needs and interests of the Holy Cross community. ITS is committed to providing excellent service, delivered with respect and care.
Data is the set of facts, statistics, variables, and values generated as the College goes about its activities. When these pieces are assembled and analyzed, the information assists in making decisions and gaining new insights. Information Technology Services manages the principal systems housing these data and providing software tools for data analysis and reporting.
As the complexity of institutions and standards for effective management of them evolve, the importance of data increases. The amount of transactional data accumulated has exceeded our ability to convert it into information giving us better insights. This problem occurs in both administrative and academic work. Students, too, find that technology sometimes delivers more data than can be put to good use. The problem of analyzing data has several faces. Quantity is the most prominent of these. A gap in skills is another: we have few opportunities to learn techniques of data analysis. And there is a cultural lag in recognizing the value of data for informing decisions and providing insight.
Holy Cross is increasing its ability to analyze its administrative data. We have adopted summary dashboards, techniques to make data visually accessible, and methods of modeling and prediction. New software tools are added each year to support these practices. Information Technology Services has developed expertise in business process analysis and data systems integration to help College staff use data. The number of different systems in which data accumulate contribute to the difficulty of managing data and developing views of information that span multiple offices and administrative functions.
The College’s IT environment must be stable, resilient, and secure for all data and intellectual property of students, faculty, and staff. They need timely, accurate, and usable information for routine and special purposes that are both individualized and accurately targeted. Meeting these expectations requires the development of an information architecture that is simultaneously robust and flexible, an articulated structure because no single system will meet all the needs. We will replace older systems with new technologies. Tools to assist in data integration will be indispensable. The ability to draw data from wherever it resides to inform decisions and provide insight will be a top priority.
Information Technology Services will collaborate with administrative offices and governance committees to develop a business intelligence strategy. We will lead the transition from the Peoplesoft ERP system to one suited to meet core data-handling needs for the next decade. We will guide the selection and operation of office-centered information systems. Forays into new data technologies, skill sets, and ways of thinking about data management will be necessary. These will include cloud-based systems and tools using artificial intelligence and machine learning to assist in coping with data complexity. We will also explore means for using the unstructured and minimally structured data that are produced by social media applications.
Holy Cross faculty use an ever-expanding number of electronic technologies to augment teaching and learning. We enhance the educational mission in several ways. A learning management system spans all the academic disciplines, serving as the information home for courses. Every topic of study has additional information resources and software tools. Information Technology Services assists faculty and students in the selection and use of these aids to education.
No challenge will be more difficult for colleges and universities in the coming years than proving the value of the education they provide. We will need to demonstrate effectiveness and efficiency. Institutions with excellent records in traditional, residential education will continue their exploration of ways technology can support institutional missions. Already, most courses have an online component: most knowledge today is created, stored, and transmitted via digital technologies. The world from which students come, and where they will work and learn after their formal education ends, is already intensely technological. Much remains to be done to integrate technology and teaching, but the necessity of that blending is widely acknowledged providing insight.
The Holy Cross approach to education combines critical inquiry and reflection with deep personal engagement in questions of meaning and value. Students develop intellectual independence and multiple perspectives. They explore webs of connection and complex relationships. The Center for Liberal Arts in the World helps students find opportunities for learning and growth outside the classroom. The Montserrat Program for first-year students combines living and learning experiences organized around interdisciplinary topics. Information technology is becoming increasingly important as Holy Cross explores ways to blend tradition and innovation in its distinctive way of education.
Technology supports bridging formal and informal learning at Holy Cross. Our communication technologies are ubiquitous, enabling access to information and collaborative online workspaces. Many of the campus’s academic and social spaces have equipment for data access and visualization. An increasing number of spaces have audio and video recording technology to support people who come together to learn, work, or share an event. We have geared our infrastructure to mobile devices, which are the necessary connectors in the campus information environment.
Information Technology Services will promote experimentation and innovation, working in collaboration with our faculty. We will develop means to assess the effectiveness of technology in the Holy Cross educational environment. We will deepen and extend our partnership with the Library, with a focus on digital literacy and the preservation of the work of students and faculty. Foremost in our support of educational technology will be a constant conversation with faculty about needs and interests.
Information Technology Services is committed to protecting the College’s confidential and sensitive information. We use state-of- the-art technologies in our software, computer systems, and networks. We follow safe processes in our handling of data and promote safe practices for students, faculty, and staff. We also raise awareness by publishing information about data security risks and ways to mitigate them.
Threats to information security continue to grow in variety and severity, requiring the constant development of protective measures. Institutional and individual data are at risk from unauthorized access and loss and modification. Institutions cannot allow their computers and network to be used in attacks on others. Legal requirements and professional and ethical standards motivate the high priority given to security. In higher education, the challenge of safeguarding information coexists with a commitment to openness.
Holy Cross uses a Defense in Depth approach to information security. The technical infrastructure includes multilayered means to detect and block threats. We continuously monitor the network and computers for signs of intrusion or malfeasance. ITS promotes awareness of security and provides training to promote safe practices. Our belief is that we achieve security best by enlisting the participation of the whole campus community. We also consider security from the earliest stages of planning for every IT project. And we embed security technology in every part of the College’s infrastructure to provide the best foundation for secure practices.
Information security extends into risk management and mitigation. Because no perfect protection can be guaranteed, awareness of potential vulnerabilities and the application of well-considered preventive procedures are the most efficient strategy. We collaborate with College teams to help shape the security provisions in a broad range of projects. We work with governance bodies, designated administrators, and legal counsel to ensure that Holy Cross’s policies address the needs of information security.
Information Technology Services will continue its vigorously proactive approach to information security. We will lead by our example in preparedness and diligence. We will constantly evolve the campus technical infrastructure and implement new security practices as they emerge in the IT field. We will advise and assist in compliance measures. When security breaches occur, we will provide expert diagnostic and remedial services to minimize harm.
Some new developments in technology bring improvements to how we do things currently. Others challenge the current practices. The pace of technology innovation is rapid and unpredictable. Many transformative technologies did not have an obvious application when they first appeared. X-rays, telephone, and laser are examples of innovations whose dominant uses were not immediately apparent. The work of leadership in technology innovation is to link the new capability with an important purpose. Discovery, evaluation, and learning are hallmarks of academic institutions. They are also the steps in progress that an IT organization needs to follow to sift the many technical options that arise.
Holy Cross supports innovation in academic inquiry and the pursuit of social objectives. It is natural that the College should also embrace selected innovations in technology, where they advance the mission of the College. Increasingly, developments in consumer electronics are shaping the landscape of data. Are smartphones a distraction in the classroom, or do they have potential to improve education? Can surveillance cameras, adopted for campus safety, also give us insights on pedestrian traffic and contribute to optimized campus design?
Innovations might appear anywhere in the life of the College. When these arise in technology, the challenge for Information Technology Services is to discover, understand, and evaluate. That process will lead to an informed basis for support, neutrality, or opposition. It is important that we in ITS maintain an objective view on these spontaneous arrivals of technology. It is our goal, to always scan the horizon for new options and bring the best of those to campus. We want to understand the technologies available, see the opportunities they might present, and engage with colleagues in exploring the potential of emerging technologies.
Information Technology Services will collaborate with administrative offices and governance committees to develop a business intelligence strategy. We will lead the transition from the Peoplesoft ERP system to one suited to meet core data-handling needs for the next decade. We will guide the selection and operation of office-centered information systems. Forays into new data technologies, skill sets, and ways of thinking about data management will be necessary. These will include cloud-based systems and tools using artificial intelligence and machine learning to assist in coping with data complexity. We will also explore means for using the unstructured and minimally structured data that are produced by social media applications. Information Technology Services tracks the emergence of innovations, researching and sampling to explore potentials for Holy Cross. Our aim is to shepherd innovation.
Information Technology Services will learn and change in its own engagement with technology, serving as a model for the College by making innovative improvements in our work. We anticipate advances in artificial intelligence— software applications that learn and adapt, cloud-sourced computational and storage capabilities, and multi-factor identity authentication. We also foresee increases in the energy efficiency of computing devices. Uses of technology also reflect innovations. Many courses at Holy Cross have an online dimension. What is done in the classroom and what in the time between class meetings is shifting as faculty experiment. The sources and media of instructional materials are also changing. We will partner with innovators and, in the spirit of the College’s mission, will be open to new ideas, respectful of the interests and views of our campus partners, and responsible for the choices we advocate