Assistant Vice President and Chief Information Officer
What is Information Technology? Simply put, IT is thinking, processing and solving problems. It’s the complex endeavor of information exchange that supports administrative, educational, research, clinical and outreach missions of our institution.
In a much broader sense, IT is people. Whether it’s the technician helping you at your workstation or the behind-the-scenes work of our system administrators and programmers, IT involves helping to make your life easier.
Within the Office of Information Technology, our team takes pride in doing great work on a consistent basis to meet the needs of our campus community. Beyond just meeting your needs, we choose to research ideas, test boundaries of technologies, and transform the way you do things.
This year, an internal audit of The Texas A&M University System validated our hard work with its highest possible rating. I’m proud of our entire team, and I’m pleased that serving the best interests of our institution is everyone’s priority.
Moving forward, we are prepared for the challenges of our ever-changing academic environment. It’s an exciting time at Texas A&M Health Science Center. We’re happy to be a part of it and pledge to give you our best as we continue to support our institution’s goals of teaching, learning and discovery.
A Texas A&M University System internal audit of TAMHSC’s Office of Information Technology (OIT) prompted a stellar score of 1 for the department based on a 1-5 rating scale. Auditors reviewed all IT policy, procedure and systems—including networking, desktops, servers, virtual systems and databases—and found no faults. They checked compliance with our institution’s policies, TAMUS policies, and state law. The many aspects of the audit involved compliance, management information systems, system development and operations.
A key factor in the success of our organization, both in the audit and moving forward, is the dedicated staff of IT professionals assembled at our institution.
The primary focus of the Office of Information Technology continues to be supporting our campus communities—through educational initiatives, distance learning, collaborative tools and secure systems essential for the success of a health-related institution.
Cooperation and collaboration are key factors that positively impact our geographically disbursed campuses. The Office of Information Technology strives to analyze needs, partner with administration and faculty representatives to find possible solutions, and adapt new technologies that can benefit all our campuses now and for years to come.
Your input is essential every step of the way. We welcome feedback through our ticketing system, with online responses, and through our annual OIT Survey each fall. Additionally, we welcome your direct contact as the need arises.
The mission of OIT is to be a trusted partner in teaching, learning and discovery, providing valuable information technology resources to faculty, staff and students. By acting in technical, service and advisory roles, OIT is instrumental in:
With a focus on professionalism, integrity and reliability, OIT leverages information technology innovations to work in the best interest of the entire TAMHSC community.
Technology is being integrated into every aspect of our changing world, and our institution is no exception. With components all across the state, TAMHSC has a unique set of requirements and challenges with regard to information technology. Fully integrating technology into all components by providing information, tools and services in a timely, professional and courteous manner is essential. The vision for OIT moving forward is to provide robust, reliable and secure technology resources while also facilitating a culture of openness, cooperation and service excellence.
Access to Lynda.com training is now available to all faculty, staff and students of TAMHSC at lynda.tamhsc.edu. The online training library offers instructional videos with searchable topics to help everyone in our institution become more proficient at required tasks while at the same time fostering personal development.
TAMHSC is a member of eduroam, a secure network access service developed for the international research and education community. It allows connectivity to wireless network services when visiting other eduroam-participating institutions.
MachForms has enabled us to provide accessible online forms for departments throughout our institution. The forms are user friendly, integrate into our existing websites, and increase efficiency by improving workflows.
We are using Siteimprove institution-wide to aid in keeping web content accurate and accessible to everyone. The service checks for misspellings, broken links and accessibility issues, and sends reports to component webmasters.
Qualtrics allows secure surveys with the added bonus of providing in-depth analysis and reporting.
Notable milestones within the Office of Information Technology involve initiatives that:
Milestones are a result of our strategic plan, which ties to our institution’s overall plan for advancement in teaching, learning and discovery. Solutions provided within our targeted service areas enabled our services and offerings to improve and expand, benefitting the entire TAMHSC community.
The following sections illustrate milestones impacting our campuses during 2013.
A new firewall was put in place to handle the increased bandwidth usage. It can process over 20 times the bandwidth of the previous hardware.
New routers were added to buildings on Bryan campus to prevent a single point of failure and increase the backbone on the campus from 10G to 20G.
Installation of new wireless controllers across TAMHSC enabled more access points to be added at each site, increasing the wireless coverage across institution.
As a health-related institution, ensuring our systems’ security is of utmost importance. When dealing with student records and public health information, it’s essential that system safeguards are in place. Our policies and procedures, along with constant security monitoring, allow us to thoroughly protect our institution’s information.
Security is provided around the clock at TAMHSC. Here are some numbers, on average, that show how our network is protected from imminent threats:
OIT installed new thin client stations with widescreen monitors in the 107-seat simulation lab at the Texas A&M Baylor College of Dentistry. In addition, high resolution cameras used for instruction and a central monitoring station were installed. The new technology allows students the opportunity to hone their skills in a simulation environment and provides instructors a better method of teaching large classes.
In order to meet all HIPAA compliance laws and protect the customers we serve, OIT made significant enhancements at our Bryan clinic by implementing enterprise encryption software (SecureDoc) on all portable devices. Traditional desktop computers were replaced with thin client workstations, which reduce the chance of protected health information from being misused, lost or stolen. Enhancements allowed us to retire legacy equipment and increase productivity.
Throughout the year, OIT provided support services for faculty, staff and students at our campuses across the state. Support efforts involve partnership, cooperation and collaboration, and OIT staff routinely provide after-hours assistance. From technology innovations to office relocations, OIT works daily to support our institution’s mission of teaching, learning and discovery.
More than 10,000 applications were processed through the Banner Admissions Management Framework application, which was developed within OIT. This paperless admissions process eliminated more than 33,500 paper forms in 2013.
Through use of our AV services, classroom improvements and enhancements:
Logging into our web servers has become more secure due to greatly enhanced monitoring applications and improvements. Automatic server failover solutions can prevent websites from going down in the event of local server failure. At TAMHSC, we now failover to cloud services in order to handle outages to our main data centers. This practice also allows us to more effectively detect and defend against attacks on our websites.
Web content from TAMHSC’s five colleges and the Institute of Biosciences and Technology were migrated to our new sites in 2013. Key public entry points and frequently visited pages were the focus of the move. Work continues to be done to improve content, streamline navigation, and make our sites accessible. With widespread use of laptops, tablets and cell phones, it’s more important than ever to ensure information is displayed properly across all devices. Having mobile-friendly sites supports TAMHSC’s mission and aids in improving communication, engagement and learning.
To help make our website a positive place for site visitors, we've been using guidelines to make our web content more accessible to everyone, including those with disabilities. Additionally, accessibility is important with all electronic information resources, including instructional materials, videos and other references.
In 2013, Web Services staff trained all Content Management System users at our five colleges and multiple institutes. More than 150 users were trained on effectively writing for the web, accessibility practices and transitioning to new sites.
When transitioning to new sites, we implemented the latest Google-hosted search, which performs site searches better than the previous search appliance. An added bonus was the extra savings realized by making the transition.
Through efforts in telecommunications technology, OIT links individuals within TAMHSC to their colleagues and to the world. Integration of the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology translates to a savings of time and money in an age of limited resources. Wireless access provides convenience across our network and among institutions worldwide..
In-house programming offers custom built applications to meet the unique needs of Texas A&M HSC. We work to create effective solutions for workflows and business practices specific to our health-related institution.
OIT strives to offer effective, reliable computing support for faculty, staff and students to help them achieve their teaching, research and learning goals. Our support specialists are present at every TAMHSC component throughout the state, effectively delivering the technology resources, tools and information necessary for our institution to achieve the levels of excellence set forth by our administration.
The primary responsibility for building, maintaining, enhancing and securing the server and storage-based IT infrastructure for TAMHSC lies within OIT. In addition to the numerous specialized systems in use by various campus groups, this includes mission-critical systems such as data backup and recovery; email, student information systems, central directory and authentication systems; and file sharing services.
Colleges and communities are connected through an ever-growing videoconference network, with OIT managing, maintaining and troubleshooting the videoconference infrastructure of TAMHSC. A high-speed optical network is utilized to link our institution’s academic units throughout the state.
OIT functions as a campus technology solutions provider dedicated to helping the entire TAMHSC with online needs. Web Services supports not only the technical aspects of websites and web applications but also the programming functions necessary for sites to operate effectively.