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Committee on Information Technology

Minutes of the November 9, 2006, meeting of the Committee on Information Technology

Present:  Paul Escott, Matt Nelkin, Jay Dominick, Jeff Muday, Jo Lowe, Delphine Masse, Jon Christman, Allin Cottrell, Jason Helsabeck, Joshua King, Susan Smith, Bill Marcum, Stan Thomas, and Rick Matthews and Allin Cottrell.

The committee took up its first agenda item.  This item had been imprecisely worded by the Chair, who suggested that a move to the Microsoft Exchange structure and to Microsoft Outlook email was under consideration.  As a result the discussion soon revealed that there was little disagreement among all those in attendance.  However, to more fully inform the campus community, or those reading the CIT listserve, the substance of the entire discussion will be given below.

Rick Matthews noted that a committee on which he served had studied Microsoft Exchange and Outlook a few years ago, and he then gave the following arguments against Outlook:  1) because Thunderbird is non-proprietary, there is easy import and export of items between Thunderbird and other non-proprietary packages, whereas Microsoft could make such import and export difficult; 2) Thunderbird works well with Unix and Linux operating systems, and in the future Windows might give way to a new operating system that would not be so compatible; 3) Outlook is the primary target for those who design email viruses; 4) Outlook requires more servers; 5)Outlook is tied to Explorer, and if you change one, you change the other.  The only advantage to Outlook is its shared calendar and calendaring functions, but we could use the Outlook calendar with Thunderbird.
Jay Dominick then clarified that his suggestion was to use Exchange as the underlying structure and allow all campus users to elect the email program they want.  Many staff might find the Outlook calendar attractive, and other functions that are on Exchange are useful to them.  Law and Babcock use Exchange already and IS supports their use.

Rick Matthews stated that he had no objection to this proposal.  Additional discussion covered students’ use of GroupVine, some use on campus of Google Calendar, and the fact that Exchange has IMAP, which all thought was advantageous.  Jeff Muday also noted that in certain localities questions have arisen about who owns email that is sent or received in a proprietary email package.  The law is, as yet, very unclear on such a question.
At the conclusion of discussion of this item, it was generally agreed that the committee could vote on the use of Exchange, as proposed by Jay, at its next meeting.

The second agenda item – concerning how to inform faculty better about the potential and ease of videoconferencing – produced both information and suggestions.  Jason Helsabeck gave a report that included the information that there are 3 videoconferencing rooms on campus (2 in IS and 1, the premier facility, in DeTamble) plus one portable system (whose audio is relatively poor).  The facilities are easy to use; ITGs or Jay’s staff can help set up a session; and the cost is $0 for academic use involving IP.  (Use of a dedicated phone line, by contrast, can quickly become very expensive.)  Scheduling is easy to do through the IS web page (see Media Solutions).  About ten professors used videoconferencing last year, including 2 semester-long classes.  Ideas were discussed about getting this information before the faculty more effectively. 
Further discussion of this item will occur at the next meeting, which will be on Tuesday (not Thursday), December 5, at 3 PM in the Library Director’s conference room.

Prepared and submitted by Paul Escott


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