NAU Extended Campuses receives award for Models of Efficiency
By Aurelia Acquati
National recognition was in order for NAU Extended Campuses after its software development team made effective improvements to their software systems. NAU was one of eight colleges to receive an award by the Models of Efficiency program and was featured in the University Business magazine.
Tim Goral, editor-in-chief of University Business magazine, explained the Models of Efficiency program is a way to honor various universities that have made significant achievements in their departments. They seek out universities to recognize them and share their innovations with others.
“It started out as a program where we could recognize and honor campus departments that have found ways to improve business practices, save time [and] save money,” Goral said. “We’re finding those stories and sharing them with our readers.”
Goral said applicants are asked to explain their problem, find a solution and then back it up with data. Recipients of the award are universities whose solutions and technological developments can benefit other schools, as well as their own departments.
“[What] we ask them for [on the application] is to describe their particular problem and then they describe their solution,” Goral said. “The key to that is we ask them to quantify that with data. We judge the entries on whether they’re written clearly, if it’s something that can benefit other schools and if it’s a solution that can be implemented in other schools.”
Kevin Hayes, technical team lead for NAU Extended Campuses, said their developed software migration process led to their recognition. It allows them to keep track of software processes and go back to review previous versions at any time.
“We were recognized for our ability to create a software migration process,” Hayes said. “We can migrate to production quickly and not lose our software processes. If we need to go back to any versions, we have it all migrated in one little area.”
Hayes explained the main goal for Extended Campuses is to keep up with the advancement of technology for faculty and students. Many students take online courses at the various NAU campuses and the efficiency of those courses is an important concern.
“At extended campuses, it’s always been our mission and goal to stay innovative in the technology solutions we offer to students, faculty and staff,” Hayes said. “A lot of what we do is online courses, so we want to stay innovative in what we allow our students to do [and] to utilize.”
Karen Pedersen, associate vice president for Extended Campuses, is responsible for the information technology unit and believes their innovations advance the university technologically. She said the new systems help the software development team finish additional projects more efficiently each year.
“The [Take Management Environment] TME and [Migration Operational Process] MOP systems together allow software developers to significantly and effectively increase work output to keep pace with increased project work, while allowing us to complete more projects annually,” Pedersen said. “These new and successful solutions propel Extended Campuses forward.”
Pedersen noted an important aspect of the new software systems are the students who helped create them. Not only do these technological advances assist students and faculty members, but students were able to have a hands-on experience by being involved in the process as well.
“Our full-time software developers work alongside a growing number of student software developers,” Pedersen said. “By providing an innovative work environment and real world experience for our student software developers, we’re enhancing their educational and professional credentials.”
Goral emphasized that, as editor of University Business magazine, he hopes featuring universities’ achievements in the magazine will also help other universities realize theirs. Those selected for the award receive greater credibility for their work and publicity for the university as a whole.
“Our job is to help our readers do their jobs better by providing different ideas and different solutions to help them achieve their goals. For us to select these schools I think it gives them some credibility as to the weight [and] value of the award.”