Committee on Information Technology (http://www.wfu.edu/CIT/)

Annual Report to the Faculty

Academic Year 2004-2005

 

The Committee on Information Technology (CIT) met eight times during the current academic year.  The principal items of business this year were:

1.                  Reviewing and adopting a policy statement on the use of the Wake Forest virtual private network (VPN).

2.                  Recommending that software update procedures be modified to work over the wireless network in addition to the wired network.

3.                  Recommending that future versions of WIN utilize the network password rather than a distinct password if no increased security risks are foreseen.

4.                  Recommending increased allocation of EndNote portable keys.

5.                  Recommending use of Mozilla as the default browser for next year.

6.                  Reviewing the hardware configuration for next year’s laptop.

 

Other items of discussion included:

  • The status of recent wireless network enhancements.
  • The need for improved web-based mail performance.
  • Reports on the progress of the BANNER/LINK project.
  • The increasing difficulty that faculty, staff, and administration are having reliably communicating with students outside of class.
  • Internet access for students while traveling and representing the university. 
  • Concerns about students wrongfully accessing the wireless network during exams.
  • The pros and cons of partitioning the ThinkPad disk drive.
  • Spam blocking; in November 2004, IS blocked an average of 35000 spam messages per day.

 

1.      VPN Use Policy

      During the Fall of 2004 a virtual private network (VPN) was implemented by Information Systems (IS).  The Wake Forest VPN utilizes security procedures and a tunneling protocol to support secure and private communications to campus computing resources through the Internet.  A policy statement regarding appropriate use of the VPN was reviewed, modified, and approved by the committee.  The policy statement can be viewed at the following address:  http://www.wfu.edu/CIT/docs/VPN_Policy.htm

 

2.      Software Updates

During the Fall semester it was observed that many students were exclusively utilizing the campus wireless network, never rebooting, and never connecting to the wired network.  While this observation attested to the success of the wireless network, it also brought to light a problem.  In order to receive software updates from IS, a ThinkPad had to be restarted while connected to the wired campus network.  Students who did not follow this procedure were not receiving software updates, eventually resulting in a loss of lab and classroom productivity.   The committee brought this issue to the attention of IS and a procedure was developed to support updates over the wireless network.  A related issue pertaining to password expiration is still under review.

 

3.   Passwords

   The password required to access WIN has always been distinct from the password for accessing other campus computing resources.  The historical reason for separate passwords was based on security concerns which appear less relevant than in the past.  The CIT recommended that IS consider utilizing a single password for accessing both the campus network and future versions of WIN.

 

4.   EndNote Keys

The committee heard from faculty using EndNote that there were insufficient “portable” keys available.  Portable keys allow EndNote to be used off campus when Internet access is not available.  Usage statistics indicated that our current total of 50 EndNote licenses is still meeting campus needs.  The committee recommended that the current number of campus licenses be maintained but that the number of portable keys be increased from 5 to 10 and that the checkout period be increased from 3 to 14 days.

 

5.   Web Browser

       The committee considered the question of continuing to use Mozilla as the default web browser and mail reader versus switching to Firefox and Thunderbird.  Based on information compiled by Ching-Wan Yip and the recommendation of Pat Morton, the committee voted to continue with Mozilla for another year. 

 

      6.   New ThinkPad Configuration

The committee reviewed and approved the configuration of the new IBM R52 ThinkPad which is as follows:   1.7 GHz Pentium M 700 Sonoma Processor (faster, consumes less power);  80 GB Hard Drive (4200RPM) ;  1 GB RAM (an increase);   ATI Mobility X300 PCI Express Video with 64MB of VRAM (faster bus, more scalable);   4x CD-RW/DVD-RW Enhanced Drive (single layer);  Intel Pro/1000 wired Ethernet;   Phillips/Aetheros A/B/G Wi-Fi wireless;   Bluetooth (new);  Infrared;   6.6lb weight;  1.5in x 10.6in x 13.1in dimensions