REQUESTED OIT ANECDOTES
We recognize the current OIT requirements for computer purchase are adequate for
computers used primarily for word processing and/or tasks that use Microsoft Office
programs. However, in light of the position of Turning Toward 2011, where an increase
in research is expected, we would like to advocate for more flexible, broader standards
for specialized computer needs and for a more service-friendly OIT department.
Research groups, particularly faculty performing basic science research, are penalized
by the current program. For example, recently, an instrument designed to image
fluorescent and luminescent biological samples was purchased by QCOM. The
instrument cost close to $22,000 and required a computer interface to image the
samples. In keeping with our current OIT purchasing policy we sought to order the
approved Dell Optiplex computer; however, the imaging manufacturer would not honor
their service contract if the OIT-approved Dell was interfaced with this imaging system
since the Optiplex did not have the sufficient capabilities to run the instrument.
Consequently, we purchased a higher performance Dell Precision T1500 computer that
would properly interface with the imaging instrument. In doing so we were forced to
forfeit any OIT-service support on this computer, because it was not on the approved
list. This is counter-productive to our research efforts and certainly does not
demonstrate a service-friendly OIT. This is only the most recent such event that
impacts negatively on the research efforts at the QCOM.
In addition, research often requires instrumentation that costs anywhere from $50K-
$100K. These instruments are well built and can last 20-30 years with routine
maintenance. These instruments are often interfaced to computers that have certain
specifications to the instrumentation to which they are interfaced with and cannot be
upgraded every six years. Some instrumentation software is operation-system-specific
and upgrading the computer would render the instrument inoperable. When up grading
is possible, the cost of upgrading the software to run a high end instrument in
compliance with OIT specifications can be $10K. NIH grant funding will not cover such
extravagant spending for something that is operable as is. Again, we are in a bind and
left to find computer hardware to keep the instruments running so that we can be
competitive in our research efforts.
Recently, I upgraded a high end instrument computer, with the OIT mandated computer.
Data from this instrument is stored on QCOM Server. Within two weeks of having the
new computer, the Ethernet card had to be replaced, the DVD ROM quit functioning and
now the serial port that serves as communication between the instrument and the
computer works only intermittently. This computer probably has a bad motherboard that
causes all of the attached boards to work intermittently or not work at all, but I have to
date been unable to get satisfaction from OIT, because when they come to look at the
computer, the serial port works or the DVD ROM is working. This has not cost me down
time, but only because I refused to surplus an older computer that is currently running
the instrument until I can resolve the matter. This leaves me feeling like ―you can‘t win,
you can‘t break even‖ because even when in compliance with OIT standards, service to
research instrumentation computers is not forthcoming.
Further, labs have numerous computers that interface with instruments that require
internet connection to update software. Most of our labs were set-up with an ample
number of internet connection sites, but not all are turned on. We are told to turn them
on and make them serviceable will cost the department in the neighborhood of
$200.00/connection. Again, this seems a bit extravagant for one internet connection. I
am not sure that the cable company charges this much. This over all attitude does not
seem to be demonstrating a service-friendly OIT, but rather demonstrates that OIT
wants us to pay to perform our jobs. Each department on this campus should be
helping each other to perform their jobs, rather than obstructing each other.
A new faculty member in our department received an OIT-sponsored machine, a
service that we greatly appreciate; however, the computer was set up without any
communication with the new faculty member. As it turns out, from the time the
computer was ordered and the faculty member was hired, the location of the new faculty
member‘s office had changed such that the computer was delivered to a lab. The
faculty member who was to receive the machine did not know where the computer was
and the faculty member who did receive the machine was very miffed because the
laboratory radiation safety documentation was moved and in complete disarray upon
setting up the new machine. It seems to me to be common courtesy to check before
you deliver a machine to make sure that it is the correct location and that it is being set
up in a place that is not currently designated for other operations.
Finally, I would like to stress, that the all the OIT support staff who have made the repair
call to me desire to be helpful, but must adhere to these guidelines as they are
instructed to do so and some are fearful that if they go out of their way to help us, they
will be reprimanded or lose their job.
A solution to this recurring difficulty in purchasing and supporting research-level
computers needs to be developed as QCOM and ETSU strive to enhance education
and competitive research activity and it clearly needs to come from a change in the
policies and mandates made by OIT.
OIT policies do not support research.
1- OIT takes back desk top PCs and refurbishes them to give to local schools.
While this is nice to do, I have PCs in my lab that are very old and I could use 4
year old OIT machines to up date lab computers. Lab computers are used by
students to keep data, write papers and search of information. Why should a
local HS come before ETSU students? Computers are also used in the lab to
operate equipment. PCs are disposable items and we should be allowed to
purchase them from the cheapest source for research.
2- OIT should provide automatic backup of all our files. I have this service at home
via Carbonite. Why not here?
3- OIT does not communicate with the faculty when replacing an OIT sponsored
machine, they come in remove the machine and if they do not replace the
machine that day, the do not leave any information as to when one can expect a
The main problem I have seen from OIT is refusing to let departments use their money
to purchase current and emerging technology that our peers at other TBR institutions
can and do purchase—E-readers, netbooks and IPADs have been the most significant
items we have been denied. In the past, OIT has raised all sorts of objections based on
alleged security concerns. I actually have been told that I could acquire and use these
supposedly vulnerable items as long as I didn‘t purchase them with university money
because that would relieve ETSU/OIT of liability if something went wrong!?!? Amazing!
Is education being adversely affected? Yes, of course. In the Department of Curriculum
and Instruction, one of our main goals is to keep up with developments in technology
and its instructional applications. It is embarrassing when our local P-12 school districts
are ahead of us in the technology they have available and how they are using it in
classrooms. Failing to stay current puts our graduates at a disadvantage in the job
market, as well as reducing their ability to teach effectively in modern settings.
Right now, we have a mandate from TBR to increase the time teacher education
students spend in schools, to move more of their education out of campus classrooms,
and to use current and emerging technology to accomplish these objectives without
increasing resources such as faculty members.
A major sticking point within bureaucracies is that much of the emerging technology, for
example, many IPHONE and IPAD apps, is actually fun to use. Some folks can‘t handle
the idea that game culture is radically changing how and what children and adults learn
or that work and non-work no longer have clear boundaries.
What I have heard from OIT folks has not made much sense to me, and the TN law they
keep citing as justification pertains to identity theft, not overall security of technology. I
cannot understand why our TBR peers can buy current and emerging technology that is
forbidden to us. There is a feeling among faculty that the obstructionism from OIT
comes from hidden agendas—unwillingness to change, reluctance to learn (or lack of
confidence in their ability to learn) how to support new technology and then staff that
support function, personal investment in old paradigms, and a strong desire to control
and standardize technology decisions for people they regard as idiots.
Our department now has been permitted to purchase IPADS for faculty members, but it
was a long, drawn-out story of refusal, stalling, dodging, and delaying.
Now, for some defense or understanding of OIT: I believe that they often don‘t or can‘t
communicate their ideas very well and so often may actually be doing the right or best
thing for the university and, of course, they always staunchly believe that they are doing
the right thing. Example: The recent business about requiring mobile devices to have
password protection was, in my opinion, communicated moderately poorly to the
university community prior to and at the point of implementation. I suspect it was
probably a good thing to do. They do have to fix messes made by idiots; some faculty
members are very rude to them, and their standardization of equipment and software
over the past 15 years really has increased efficiency, reduced cost, and moved ETSU
Hope this helps. I have no personal animosity toward OIT folks. I just want to see ETSU
survive a profound conceptual shift in our society. Tomorrow happened yesterday.
For the research that I have conducted, OIT has been helpful in providing technical
answers about software. At one point we had a temporary website set up which now
has become permanent and is not as accessible as we would like it to be. I would like
more assistance in setting up websites for special projects but realize that time and
personnel constraints may preclude full OIT assistance. Also would like to be able to
set up temporary email addresses for special projects. We had some trouble with
mailbox capacity but that does not seem to be an issue anymore.
I wish we could have more assistance with data management software. Sometimes
portable AV equipment has been hard to come by for presentations but we have been
able to find backups through local rentals. Sometimes software limitations made
transfer requests difficult for transcribing one media to another but the reasons have
been timely and understandable.
All in all I have not placed many requests to OIT nor had many problems. They seem to
be trying to do what is asked and have been polite and helpful.
I work with large picture, music and video files as a teacher in Dance at ETSU. It is
impossible for me to readily email those files because of the limit on attachment size for
emails at ETSU. I am often sending these files from home, or emailing to people and
places outside of ETSU, so using the dropbox is not a realistic option.
Here is an example of a scenario: I am booking a guest choreographer to teach master
classes or perform at ETSU, and need a poster and promotional video or picture from
that person, and am not able to get or send video, poster, or picture files through my
Second scenario: I am trying to send the tech folks a file of the music to be used in the
ETSU dance concert, and cannot do that because even if I send it via my aol address, I
am still sending the file to someone at ETSU, and they cannot receive the file. We
might use the dropbox in this case, but it is YET ANOTHER step one has to go through
during fiendishly busy times.
I wanted to let you know that one OIT policy should definitely be changed. OIT will no
longer work on computers that are more than 6 years old. The majority of our
computers are connected to lab equipment that is older than 6 years. There are two
problems with this OIT policy: 1) Programs to operate old lab equipment will not operate
with new computers containing the most up to date operating system and 2) Each lab
does not have funds to purchase computers connected to lab equipment every six
OIT consistently responds to my requests for assistance or a report of a problem quickly
Some of the computer equipment we are required to purchase causes the problems, I
am not sure if that is a purchasing decision or if OIT has a hand in it. For example, the
only laptop available for me to purchase on my grant that met my needs has been
plagued with problems.
I wish we had a forum to describe the REAL problems, both with people, specific
departments, and policies that hinder research at ETSU - with Grant Accounting,
Human Resources, and the IRB. ETSU wants to be a more major research instiutution,
but if that is ever going to happen, these departments in particular need to be more
responsive to the needs of grant funded projects - procedures need to be in place for
things to happen more quickly (like I know they do at other institutions), and people in
these departments need the knowledge and willingness to be truly useful and effective.
The following letters were sent to OIT ITGC, but never received a response.
The letter below was sent to the ITGC committee over one year ago with no response.
Since OIT will not support many of our perfectly functional 5/6-year old computers, we
have recently been forced to use research funds to purchase five new computers that
were interfaced to scientific equipment. These new upgraded computers use a new
operating system that is not compatible with much of the software/hardware used in our
perfectly functional scientific equipment. It has taken two OIT personnel about two full
days to install the new computers, uninstall the new operating systems and downgrade
the new computers to the old operating system. Personnel in my laboratory have spent
the last two weeks calling an ever-shifting cast of vendors who supply the software for
our instruments in an attempt to get our instruments functioning once again. In addition,
we now have a pile of perfectly functional monitors (some very new) since OIT policies
insist that we purchase new monitors with the new downgraded computers. We have
also discovered that we need to replace perfectly functional printers. Although it is
difficult to estimate, I would think this effort has cost ETSU about $25,000, not counting
the time lost from our funded research projects and the operation of our mass
spectrometry core facility. We have an additional ten computers that are aging and we
may not have the funds for an additional round of buying and downgrading new
I would hope that minor software and hardware issues could be fixed (by OIT) on old
computers interfaced with expensive instruments.
Please let me know if I can be of any assistance in helping to solve these critical
The purpose of this letter is to request a change in the OIT policy with respect to
support for computers used primarily for research. In particular, I request that the 5-
year and then ―no support‖ policy be reconsidered for research computers. My
laboratory has about 15 research computers that have very special software packages
installed: some with very expensive site licenses (e.g., $5000). These computers are
often interfaced with specific instrument systems such as our Proteomic Mass
Spectrophotometry Facility and their software cannot be updated to a new operating
system due to hardware/software incompatibilities. Moreover, these are high end
computers with very robust hardware configurations that have a ―shelf life‖ of more than
five years. These computers do, however, periodically suffer from minor glitches that
would benefit from OIT support (which is excellent).
The cost of replacing my computers would be 15 x $1500= $22,500 per five year
period: not including the time, money and effort to deal with license and incompatibility
issues. These funds would have to come from grants or departmental sources and
would not increase research productivity.
Please let me know if any additional information would be useful.
There may be some OIT policies and procedures that have reduced our effectiveness
I don‘t know what you are talking about since there was nothing specific in your email,
however, getting put on hold for 45 minutes is ridiculous when a person needs to have
their computer problem solved ASAP!!!!!
The laptop I purchased on my grant less than a year ago has had several problems, not
all of which have been solved. One of them was a problem with typing within emails -
apparently it was some conflict with the BIOS and the particular version of Windows.
When I reported the problem to OIT they first thought my hand was touching down on
the touchpad while I typed (I disable this feature as I use a mouse). Anyway, the person
from OIT that I dealt with finally decided that we might be able to remedy the problem if
the drivers were updated, and this was done remotely with the laptop set up in my
campus office. This did correct the problem for a time, but last week the problem
reemerged after an automatic software update. I went out and updated all of the drivers
again (myself as I was out of town), which has resolved the problem for now.
Another issue has been with wireless access on campus. I have never been able to get
the laptop to hook into the ETSU server wirelessly, and while I can get internet access if
I hardwire in from my office, Microsoft Outlook has never worked properly no matter
how I access. OIT has dealt with this more than once - always remotely with me wired
in. They have gotten it working, but as soon as I take the laptop anywhere else where I
connect to the internet wirelessly, I can no longer access the ETSU system wirelessly
once I am back on campus. I have done some research and apparently this particular
laptop is prone to this type of problem. OIT has not been able to fix it permanently, and I
don't have time to keep dealing with it, so I have resigned myself to the fact that when I
am on campus I do not have wireless access to the internet from my laptop - I have to
resort to my smartphone to access email when I am not in my office.
Finally, while minor, I had no color choice when I ordered my laptop - it arrived a bright
blue color. To me it doesn't look very professional, although obviously this has nothing
to do with functionality!
I have had a mix of positive and negative experiences with OIT. There are times when
their response has been very timely and helpful.
The overall theme of any problematic issues with OIT has been in terms of (a) reaching
someone at OIT in order to receive assistance, and (b) getting that assistance in a
For example, I recently had a connection problem specific to accessing my e-mail
remotely (it was not a simple internet connection issue). As an instructor for online
classes, I need to access e-mails in the evenings when exam deadlines are coming up
(this is when students contact me about problems either with accessing the exam or
extraneous problems that need to be resolved). However, OIT was closed and so I
could not resolve the problem that evening.
I managed to eventually resolve the problem on my own; however, I never did receive a
reply to my emergency e-mail (sent from a private account) requesting assistance –
even the next day.
I am also aware that OIT is reluctant to assist with the increasingly diverse hardware
(e.g., Apple products) that is available to students and faculty out there. Although I
understand that helping with more and more technology is burdensome, I think it is
short-sighted to not help those who use it. This means that we are discriminating
against some students (and faculty) based on their personal consumer choices. We
shouldn‘t limit anyone‘s education on this basis.
I have contacted the OIT regarding my office phone (other party can't hear me loud
enough) twice, but it has not been successfully fixed.
I'd also like to have the administrative privilege in my lab computer so I can use it more
efficiently. Contacting them every time I need to install some free science software is
just not efficient.
An incredible event happened on March 24, 2011. Someone from OIT went into a
faculty member‘s office and removed her computer. The faculty member was out of
town. The staff objected to no avail. They were told we were lucky to have benefitted
from OIT‘s forbearance in waiting until March 24; it was OIT‘s computer and they could
take it away whenever they wanted. What precisely was so important about re-claiming
the computer is not clear; it was sufficiently old that it had an internal floppy disk drive!
The computer was partially disassembled and the internal hard drive was left on the
Faculty member‘s desk.
A bit of background: OIT determined several months ago that some of the computers
that they had installed shouldn‘t have been installed, due to the fact that the division is
financed in part through a contract with the counties, and some of the
employees‘/faculty members‘ salaries are paid via that mechanism. They informed us
that new ones would not be provided at the next upgrade interval, and they would
require the old ones back. We indicated that we understood that no new computers
would be forthcoming, and we would attempt to fund new computers via the next budget
request to the counties (which was communicated to the mayors recently). We also
indicated (Mr. Wilgocki discussed this problem with and made a proposal to Mr. Bragg)
that we wished to retain the old ones until we had replacements. That was the last I
heard of it until the raid was made on this Faculty member‘s office.
In my opinion, this raid on Faculty member‘s office raises serious questions about OIT‘s
policy, attitude, and commitment to the support of our mission in the College of
A few observations / suggestions:
1. Our University should have two separate units : Administrative Computing and
Academic Computing. This will help resolve the conflict and confusion between
supporting Banner / Ebucs, and other activities specifically related to
administrative functions from supporting academic/research functions such as
smart classrooms, D2L, specialized servers and technologies for research
activities, library servers, etc.
2. Basic infrastructure such as network installations, additional drops for
connectivity as needed in offices and labs should be paid for by some central
fund rather than from departmental budgets. Some departments operate with
bare minimum budgets and when we expect them to pay for such basic
infrastructure needs, it puts a heavy burden on the departments to function
effectively and efficiently.
3. Too much wait for the help desk assistants to respond. The automated
answering system should be changed or more staff should be added to help
avoid the lag time.
4. We seem to be too much cautious about security. I am by no means belittling
the need for security. However, we need to realign the balance between security
and implementing new and innovative technologies. Too many road blocks in
the name of security dampens our desire and enthusiasm to try new and exciting
ideas in our workplace. This may be a TBR related issue but our leadership
should speak up and change such outdated policies.
These comments DO NOT in any way a negative slap on the good work OIT
administration has done in the last few years. They do have their own reasons and
limitations to improve their services. I guess we should help set up a de-centralized
system where various the University level OIT can work on the system-wide
infrastructure and Division/College level OIT can use that infrastructure and implement
services as appropriate at these Division / College levels.
I use a smart phone (Blackberry) so that I can access my outlook calendar and email.
This is not a requirement for my position as a faculty member or for my position as
program coordinator, and I am not reimbursed by the University for the expense. I find
that I am MUCH more productive (responsive to emails, able to set appointments when
not on campus, etc.) when I have access to this technology.
My complaint with OIT policy is that they ―push‖ a password to my phone which locks
the phone after 30 minutes of idle time (at least I believe that is the timing). In order to
unlock my phone I must enter a 4-character password. I can receive calls while my
phone is locked, but I am not able to make calls or use any other function of the phone
until I unlock the phone. This is problematic on many levels and means that my intent
to be able to perform my job better costs me the ability to use my phone without the
hassle of unlocking. Here are two examples:
- I am driving and want to call my child‘s daycare to let them know I am running
late – even using voice activation technology so that it is safe – I must first unlock
my phone by typing in the password … very unsafe
- Someone calls and wants to schedule an appointment – I am unable to switch
over to my calendar if my phone is locked, which means that I must hang up,
unlock my phone, access my calendar, and call the person back
While I understand the need to secure email access, I believe this policy goes too far.
Maybe locking the email function would be a good option, but locking my phone is
unreasonable. I know others who have dropped their access to email/calendar for this
reason – which will mean they are less productive at work – and I am considering doing
the same. The policy hampers my ability to work efficiently and also limits my ability to
use my phone for personal use, all at my own expense.
Thank you for looking into this policy.
The email system is very ineffective at ETSU. I cannot work remotely with
etsu.edu account and as a researcher who has to do research at multiple locations
(home, abroad, at the library of congress and at other research libraries), I find it
impossible to use webmail. So I have to keep 2 email accounts for work so I can
download my work emails on my laptop computer. I think the student‘s account with
google (goldlink) is probably much better for researching faculty – I wish we had this. I
understand that the students had a choice in determining their email client server, I wish
we had some more input in this so I didn‘t have to check two accounts for work.
I don‘t really have an ―anecdote‖, but I did want to say that every time I have requested
OIT help, their response has been prompt and helpful.
I'm responding to your request for information about how OIT helpsor hinders research
In general, I think OIT is very good, for Windows-related problems. However, all of my
research requires a LINUX/UNIX based-operating system, and OIT provides very little
support for LINUX/UNIX. We (meaning faculty in Astronomy) are essentially on our
own, computer-wise. We must do all our own system administration, which can take
up a lot of time, taking time away from research. I am currently using an 8-year old
computer for my main research computer, mainly because I do not have time to do the
considerable amount of work it will take to select a new computer and set it up (I do
have grant money to buy one, if necessary, but no time to do the necessary work to set
it up). I can understand OIT not wanting to get into involved in installing user software
on LINUX machines, but help with setup, maintaining the machines (i.e., setting up
backup disks, fixing problems, etc), would be extremely helpful.
I have recently received a number of emails from members of the Faculty Senate
requesting information that the sender insures will be ―held in confidence.‖ According to
the ETSU OIT Code of ―Ethics‖:
Electronic records sent, received, or stored on computers owned, leased, or
administered by ETSU are the property of ETSU. As the property of ETSU, the content
of such records, including electronic mail, is subject to inspection by ETSU
personnel....ETSU is able and reserves the right to monitor and /or log all network
activity of users without notice, including all e-mail and Internet communications. Users
should have no reasonable expectation of privacy in the use of these resources.
Moreover, the OIT help desk has informed me that all ETSU business must utilize an
ETSU email account rather than a private email account.
Also, keep in mind that: (1) we often use the ETSU internet to provide private medical
information (e.g., the required health questionnaire) to the ETSU health insurance
company; (2 ) ETSU physicians often communicate with their ETSU patients via the
I am not a logistician but:
HIPPA requires ―safeguards to protect the privacy of personal health information‖
including emails (
All ETSU email is not private
ETSU email can contain private medical information
....suggesting (to me) that ETSU is in violation of HIPPA.
I am also of the philosophical opinion that the relationship between ―ETSU‖ and
faculty has a dimension beyond that of ―employer and employee‖ and also
involves well established principles of academic freedom (see
which includes a strong expectation of privacy.
I have had outstanding results from OIT. Without exception they have been timely,
courteous, professional, and competent. I am not sure if my experience is generalizable
or not. I am quite comfortable with you using my name or requesting further information
from me on this matter.
For the most part, the OIT representatives I contact have been professional,
knowledgeable, and considerate in my dealings with them, and I have had the good
fortune to work with the same people for a number of years. I think my main problems
with OIT come from the lack of support for popular platforms and from a lack of
explanations about changes.
In the past few months, for example, those of us who access our ETSU accounts with
our wireless devices have had to go through an extra step of offering a password to do
so, every time we turn on our device while it is set up to access that ETSU account.
While this situation creates a minor inconvenience, one of my colleagues complained
that it adversely affects his use of his device. In truth, I have the same device, and it
causes only a couple-of-second delay with no noticeable change of performance.
However, we did not learn until well after this policy started just why OIT instituted it.
Had OIT offered this information beforehand in a manner pretty much unavoidable by
the ETSU community, it could have avoided some hard feelings on the part of my
colleague and perhaps others (although I must allow the possibility that my colleague
can be oversensitive about such things).
The matter that most affects me is the lack of support of some formats. For example,
while OIT supports the Blackberry, it does not support the iPhone, although I see a
number of iPhone users on our campus. I have not yet seen an explanation why this
device and the iPad have not gotten OIT support. It makes it appear that OIT is
attempting to influence our choices as consumers rather than accommodate users in
this particular decision. After all, the majority of the correspondence I have on my
iPhone is business related. I could use a bit more support in this area.
First, I came to ETSU in 2003. At around that time, several changes had taken place in
the operations of the OIT. I have the impression from some colleagues who have been
here longer that OIT service was close to abysmal at times prior, but that things had
become progressively better at around my arrival. Although I have not always agreed
or understood some OIT policies, I can say without reservation that OIT staff have
ALWAYS been professional, helpful, and accommodating. In my experience the OIT
unit has bent over backwards to do what could be done for my own special requests.
Indeed, I have the impression that OIT is understaffed but does an outstanding quality
job of support for the campus in spite of this challenge.
Having said that, here are a few things that could be adjusted or considered to improve
OIT's service to the mission of ETSU.
* ETSU now has over 15,000 students. I believe it qualifies as a doctoral institution.
We have a Med College, a Pharmacy College, a Business School, and even a High-
Performance Computing Cluster facility. We are not far in enrollment from the
University of Iowa, which is the smallest of the Big Ten universities with around 21,000
students in fall 2010. With growth in student enrollment, faculty numbers, and research
and service to the community, it seems less and less viable that the idea of one-size-
fits-all for OIT can continue in the future. Specific to my concerns is the perceived need
of a Linux administrator for the math and sciences. Although needing to use Windows
for many ETSU specific reasons, the Department of Physics and Astronomy is strongly
linux oriented in research, but the faculty have to support their own machines in large
part, both for ourselves and our students. We even have to manage our own printers.
This can be time consuming and inefficient in relation to the research goals that we
aspire to (namely, competing for grants and publishing scholarly papers).
I was a Visiting Assistant Professor in Physics and Astronomy at the University of Iowa,
and they had a dedicated computer administrator on staff. I was a graduate student
and later a Scientist in the Department of Astronomy at the University of Wisconsin, and
they had a dedicated computer administrator on staff. I was a postdoctoral researcher
in Physics and Astronomy at the University of Glasgow, and they had a dedicated (part
time) computer administrator just for the astronomy group! Although perhaps such a
position might not reasonably be assigned to our department alone, there is enough
critical mass between the math and various science departments to justify a dedicated
* Why is authorization still needed to purchase computers?
* Why can't routers be used? We recently had to stop using routers and have new wall
internet ports installed. The rationale appeared to be that if a computer were causing a
problem (such as being hacked) and was on a router, OIT could not limit the machine's
connectivity. But they would certainly be able to track the problem to the right port (that
was the whole point), so just shut down the port and all the machines on the associated
router. This policy is annoying because it means that any expansion of computing
capacity may entail expensive upgrades to the number of ports in a room. Just seems
* The Microsoft mail exchange tool is generally fine, but a few features seem lacking.
Mainly, it is difficult to copy contact lists, or easily drag-n-drop names on a list. Also, it
appears that when using the tool in the 'light' mode, contact lists cannot be edited when
working from a web browser.
Note that these are all high level administrative policy issues. In closing I want to
reinforce expressions of respect for and satisfaction with OIT staff and performance.
About a year ago, the faculty server ("faculty.etsu.edu") was modified so that FTP would
no longer work (as a security issue, as I recall). We were told that we could still transfer
files using Filezilla. Filezilla works fine with the suggested settings ON CAMPUS.
However, the suggested settings for OFF CAMPUS did not work. I contacted OIT
several times about how to deal with this, and it has not yet been resolved.
The inability to modify my webpages hinders my instructional performance in terms of
maintaining websites for my classes, my research performance in terms of keeping my
latest research results posted online (my list of publications and preprints of my work),
and in terms of advising (I am advisor for the math honors society Kappa Mu Epsilon
and for the math Honors-in-Discipline program). In addition, I post any seminar
presentations or conference presentations on my website. I have muddled along for the
past year, but I am much more capable of keeping everything up-to-date if I can work
from off campus. Afterall, isn't that part of our larger agenda concerning doing things
online these days?
In my opinion, issues relate to the management style of OIT, not so much the individual
workers and the job they do. What they are ―allowed‖ to do [or not allowed to do] is
part of the issue. The current structure / approach is based on the old ―mainframe in the
basement‖ world where end users never had access to, nor interacted with the staff /
management. In those days, the technical staff did not need to have an in depth
understanding of the ―users‘ world.‖
In the modern age of information technology, and at many campuses across the nation,
there have been shifts in how services are delivered. The integration with library
services, access to online information and use of multiple data systems by the end
user creates a need for more focused customer service, with the intent of finding a way
to streamline the workflow, rather than be just the ―police of policy‖ and what can / will
be used. It is the needs of the end user that should serve as a framework to adapt
OIT‘s approach / strategic plan.
One example is that the need to use Adobe PDF reader / writer as an industry standard
required by NIH and other grant agencies. Instead of this being included with the OIT
purchase specifications for desktop PCs, OIT instructed users to purchase software
licenses on an individual basis.
Also, sometimes focus on incorporating the use of the latest product / hardware seems
to take priority over the fine-tuning of our existing infrastructure. Working on staff and
faculty development in the appropriate use of technology within the classroom and for
office management / workflow efficiency will be critical in our current state of doing more
Another component that adds complexity are the multiple calendar systems across all
of the educational programs. Trying to fit a square peg in a round hole is quite a
Since my time at ETSU I have encountered several problems with OIT, primarily during
encounters with Steve. Interestingly, when you OIT needs are not resolved you do not
have an opportunity to complete the online survey. I believe this is one problem with the
current system for getting feedback to OIT. All of the encounters that have been
problematic resulted in no opportunity for feedback because my need was left
During more than one occasion I have contacted OIT for help and spoken with Steve.
During many of these instances he has been degrading and disrespectful by making me
feel like I should know/understand what he is talking about or treating me like an idiot or
expecting that I should have the knowledge skills to address things on my own. For
example, I have told him before that I am trying to get to my e-mail through internet
explorer when away from the office and he responded something like I don‘t work on
Internet Explorer. On two occasions I have been working with my ETSU laptop on
research projects off campus at Earthfare and have called for OIT support. Steve has
told me that he is unable to help with my requests and that I could ask Earthfare if they
have technical support to assist with my issues because ETSU does not provide
support off campus. This is problematic in that I do much of my research collaboration
with physicians and other health care providers away from campus. We frequently need
access to statistical programs, etc., during our off campus meetings.
Thanks for soliciting these requests. Let me know if you have any questions.
I just want to mention that OIT‘s new ―security‖ measures restricting access to faculty
email accounts hinders my research and professional service. In the past I‘ve always
been able to access my email from my home computer using Outlook Express. This fall
OIT restricted this so that the only way faculty can access email from off campus is via
webmail. I collaborate with many researchers internationally and we are constantly
exchanging files concerning our research. The limited storage on the webmail as well
as the awkwardness of storing and attaching files costs me extra time when doing this
work. Similarly, I‘m on the editorial board of two international journals. Papers are
submitted to the journals via email to me. I work from my home computer on nights and
weekends handling the demands of these submitted papers. The extra work of having
to access the email via webmail instead of a more convenient program like Outlook
Express is hindering my work, especially considering the number files that I handle each
I called OIT to request that I be allowed to use Outlook for email from home. They said
that I could not because of securing privacy of student records. They offered me a
student account on gmail, and at first I thought that might help. But it is my faculty email
address that my collaborators and the journals use, so the student account is of no use
I don‘t see how the webmail is giving any more security than other forms of access, but
even if it is, my home computer is private to me (extremely secure) and the trade-off is
costing me time and effort.
I am a professor who is performing clinical research. I have obtained a grant to perform
the research. In order to collect the data, a specialized data base is required. One has
been designed and can be implemented by hiring the data-base programmer on a
temporary basis through the grant funding obtained to do the project. OIT would not
allow the hiring of a database manager, it was said that the management of the program
must be performed through OIT, even though the OIT personnel do not have the
expertise do manage the database.
Further, I opted to purchase a laptop from grant funds. The one OIT deemed I
purchase was $1100, while the one I wanted to purchase was $600.00 and was
satisfactory for the job that needed to be performed. I had to sign a contract agreeing
that I would not expect OIT to assist with service and maintenance should they become
necessary. In hard economic times, we should be fiscally responsible and try to help
each other out. OIT does not seem to consider this.
I have mixed feelings regarding OIT. On the one hand, they have been very responsive
and effective at maintenance of my office computer, which is an Apple computer.
Specifically, Erik Stigler is the ‗point‘ person on the maintenance of Apple computers on
campus. He is excellent. Typically, if I email him directly, he will at my office within half
an hour. It is rare that there is a problem Erik cannot fix. So, many kudos towards him
and I hope that OIT is able to hold on to him. There is another OIT staffer, Brandon,(I
forget his last name) who is also excellent. He recently fixed the hard drive on my
laptop. He responded promptly and returned it to me within a couple of days when I had
convinced myself all was lost. He has also been very helpful with the Department‘s
However, my primary issues with OIT is with the response of the help desk, specifically,
Steve at the help desk. I do not know his last name. I had a password issue last year in
which I would be logged out of my email account almost ‗randomly.‘I would have reset
my password each day, and a user can reset their password only once every 24 hours.
I sent this problem to the help desk several times, always responded to by Steve, and
he essentially told me I was either typing in my password wrong or I had a device, such
as an iPad/iPhone (which I do not own) was logging in with the wrong password
automatically. After many, many rounds of this, I finally was able to get in touch with
Erik Stigler, who promptly diagnosed the problem and it has been fixed ever since.
I am an active researcher on campus, and overall, I think OIT is reasonably effective
although they could always do a better job. I think there are specific places this can be
remedied, namely, having Steve removed as the response person at the OIT help desk.
I was very happy with XP; I had all my research and two chapters on XP; I knew the
system fairly well. I Still do not know Vista! OIT informed me that I was getting a new
computer and that I had no say in the matter. SO I got the damn thing. Now my lazier
printer won't run on it, I have trouble with power point going back and forth from my XP
at home to the Damn Vista at school, and I have misplaced research. Of course the
footnoting and end noting systems are totally different. Recently I learn that some
fortunate few were able to have their computers upgraded to Windows 7 but not me and
it would really do me no good. I'd love to have the XP system again! It might be helpful
if those at OIT who make decisions based on convenience had ever written a book or
published an article. They then might better understand!!!
Most of my experiences with OIT have been positive results and I‘ve always been able
to count on and receive help from the help Desk (Dustin and Steve) and from Daniel
McLellan. I really appreciate their willingness to sometimes go above and beyond to
help out. That being said, there is an item worth mentioning that likely other
departments have experienced as well that needs to be addressed. That is the
problems with ―New User Accounts.‖ The time from which a person is hired and their
ETSU email account is created can vary from days to sometimes weeks. In the
meantime, the new hire has no computer access (unless someone volunteers to log-in a
computer for them, which as we all know is not a good idea). This is the information
age and it is amazing to me that something so simple takes so long to get done. I‘m not
sure what the current process is for generating a computer account. I do know that it
begins with an HR signed contract. One-two weeks later, the employee has access.
The delay in generating an account is frustrating; both for the faculty and staff especially
when so many of the required training sessions are on-line and require computer
access. This is a problem that could be easily fixed if it was taken seriously.
COMMENTS REGARDING OIT FROM FACULTY SURVEY
need instructional designer for online class support
far as OIT goes, the fortress mentality fostered by this "organization" is unhelpful,
intimidating, and, frankly, rude. Isn't OIT supposed to "serve" the campus?? Help us do
our jobs? The disdain that comes out of OIT is quite tiresome.
Dismissive attitude toward calls for tech support with erring (Microsoft) software
OIT policies and practices have hindered my ability to educate students more than any
other single factor on campus (although there are other issues, OIT policies are number
one). I am actively seeking ways to get students access to computational facilities and
software via private vendors off-campus because OIT policies have been so damaging.
If I were back in the private sector and the service provided by OIT were provided by an
employee or independent contractor, they would be fired and replaced immediately.
This group has proven to be the least helpful group of computer service providers that I
have ever seen anywhere - public or private sector.
The current policy takes used office computers and gives them to local schools. I could
use these computers for my students. I have 2 desks in my research lab that
undergraduate and graduate students used for their research. Due to this policy I have
to purchase their computers from research grant funds. I also use several computers to
run equipment and collect data and these machines are much older than the OIT one
just removed from my desk. Additionally, when we purchase computers for the lab we
are forced to buy Dell with service agreements that double the cost. Computers are
expendable supplies. The last one I purchased at home was a nice lap top for $550. We
should have automatic backup for all our computers. We have Carbonite at home that
automatically backs up our files. Why not at ETSU??
1. OIT refuses to support Acrobat which is the program that the GRADUATE SCHOOL
uses to review theses. Had my department not provided a copy of Acrobat to me, I
would not be able to actively comment on .pdfs of theses. I acknowledge it may be the
case that the grad school may be willing to provide other document formats, but in my
actual experience with thesis review, .pdf was the preferred format. That said, either
OIT needs to support the program (which it won't because of security risks) or the Grad
School needs to work in a different doc format. 2. OIT refuses to provide adequate mail-
forwarding from Outlook. Faculty email recently moved to a new server and upon the
move, all forwarding rules were negated. My rules haven't changed, they just no longer
work. This, then, can only mean that OIT has constrained that particular affordance of
Outlook mail. This irritates me because students are provided a Gmail-based goldmail
account whose searchability, conversational management, storage capacity,
consistency of the UI across Outlook and Webmail (by virtue that there is only ONE
gmail UI) and integration with other related services like calendars, groups, etc. that is
vastly superior to Outlook mail. As a participant in ETSU's Faculty Technology
Leadership initiative, I was enrolled as a student and thus given a goldmail account. It is
my preference that I use that email address than my Outlook faculty mail, but because
of OIT's refusal to change my default email in Banner to my goldmail account and
because of OIT's constraining of Outlook mail forwarding, I am refused the opportunity
to use the email platform that works best for ME. I am forced, then to manage two
different ETSU mail accounts because my students contact me via goldmail as does the
majority of my department but administrative and D2L mail still arrive via Outlook. OIT is
basically paranoid and utterly ridiculous in terms of some of it's technology support
decisions, especially with regard to email. This is ridiculous and is the third most
significant factor contributing to my lack of complete satisfaction with my job following
my failure to receive any kind of a raise since I've been here (the annoyance of which
has been exacerbated by an increase in my medical premiums) and the challenges of
managing a recently changed administration in my department (which is unavoidable).
OIT has been a constant source of obstruction for all computing needs other than
standard office computing.
OIT needs to be forced to be more transparent and responsive. They are like some
giant ghost sucking money from students and not accountable. They do not service
peripherals; that puts an enormous burden on my department which uses many
expensive, complicated, technological printers and scanners. Technology is technology,
picking and choosing what part of that they support unfair to students in our department
and our programs.
Please separate ELearning staff from OIT. ELearning staff are wonderful and so helpful.
OIT is not service oriented and behind the technology curve. They have set up a
"kingdom" and need to be removed from the castle.
Maybe the university as a whole should look at how we are organized and do some
serious rethinking about how to maximize our curriculum, and structure, and
opportunities for cost savings, to suit the world we've shifted into. Start pulling together
scattered programs that can support each other in both curriculum and infrastructure
needs. Think about how technology needs for the campus as a whole may need to be
A basic example is the OIT - they have overdone the security so much that I can't get to
some medical sites without a special release. Who has time to keep doing these
requests. Also the basic log on security is based on frequent changes of password
rather than quality of more secure passwords.
OIT problems are mainly caused by:
1) subcontractors during replacement cycles, 2) OIT specifications of what equipment
will be purchased and/or supported, and 3) OIT withdrawing support for recommended
equipment after it is purchased.
I would like to expand a little on the OIT question. While at times, OIT policy has proved
troublesome, individual OIT personnel have always responded rapidly and efficiently to
address my difficulties.
The main problem OIT has is that it is extremely understaffed. Also, their religious policy
of pushing Microsoft software on the faculty hinders some faculty from carrying out their
research. They should support all operating systems including McIntosh OS and
I just returned from annual leave today to find that OIT consficated my computer. This
department obstructs my work. I am disgusted with the level of "support" from OIT.
I would like to see OIT support the use of linux software. Or, as an adjunct, I would like
to be able to purchase computers with university approved software.
OIT help desk people are extremely helpful. However, this past fall, OIT suddenly began
prohibiting faculty from moving files to the faculty web server from off campus. So we
basically threw out a great advantage of the internet, which is that you can use it from
remote locations, during snow storms, etc., to communicate with students. I tried to find
out why this policy changed, and I couldn't find anyone on campus who was advocating
faculty access to technology--other than D2L, which is not the same as the internet.
The only saving grace in OIT is Erik Stiegler. Otherwise, need a whole new OIT. Fire
Bragg. Banner is the worst accounting system ever; needs changing.
OIT tend to take the position that it is "a few of them" AGAINST "a bunch of faculty and
staff." 9. OIT staff are not held accountable for actions that are damaging to the
teaching and research performance and success of the faculty. 10. Mark Bragg is not
qualified to lead an organization such as OIT 11. OIT and some higher Administration
officials (e.g., David Collins) have no good understanding of the REAL e-risk to
university computers and machines and as such enforce ridiculous rules and make
decisions that interfere with University business (teaching and research).
I teach a technology intensive course through which I need to demonstrate content
specific software. According to OIT policy, I have not been allowed to load the software
on the instructor's computer in the classroom (which is connected to the presentation
system). Also I was not allowed to purchase an ebook or ipad through my grant funds
because these devices were said to have no educational value. Faculty at other
universities are winning large federally supported research and teacher personnel
preparation grants to investigate the effectiveness and application of these devices in K-
12 classrooms and in higher education.