Farokh Eslahi appointed associate provost for information technology
By Janee Mitchell - Feature Writer
Technology services have been gradually making strides towards a new system for some time now with the announcements of several advancements such as podcasting and vodcasting.
Farokh Eslahi, newly appointed associate provost for information technology, said new changes, such as the technology unit service consolidation, and the creation of the position have been in the works for close to two years.
Eslahi said Harry Berman, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, requested that the “Academic Technology Committee…examine the current organization of IT and IT practices, and recommend a structure that would best facilitate the use of technology to support the academic mission of the university.”
In a statement announcing Eslahi’s new position, Berman said Eslahi would “work with the university community as a whole and, specifically, with technology-focused units to develop a coordinated vision for the role of information technologies in support of the UIS mission, vision and strategic plan.”
Taking the provost’s ideal of a structure supporting the academic mission of UIS, Eslahi said the ATC gave their recommendation to the provost in last April calling for a chief information officer who would report to the provost.
When the position was announced for an internal search the following November, Eslahi said he took the opportunity to apply. After the selection process, Eslahi received an offer for the position in December; the appointment was official at the beginning of this year.
Eslahi said he took part in the reorganization of IT and knew that the position opening was a part of the recommendation, so the position came as no surprise. In his position as associate provost, Eslahi said his focus will be on the accomplishment of three primary goals, “making sure that the core systems and the network infrastructure are reliable, robust, secure, and capable of handling the increasingly sophisticated types of applications UIS is using…Providing excellent technology support…and exploring emerging technologies and promoting and assisting with integrating of technology with the curriculum and the business process.”
Eslahi said he feels upbeat about the decision to appoint him the associate provost and that the unit consolidation “puts us in a great position to move forward to develop a vision for the role of information technology at UIS and to offer the campus a coordinated set of technology services.”
Eslahi also said the consolidation is followed by skilled individuals in all areas that have noted work histories and sees the change as “an opportunity for us to build on our resources, to have better coordination and more effective communication and collaboration.”
In a statement, Berman said Eslahi’s 20 years of experience, collaboration and demonstration of commitment to advancement has made him a highly regarded faculty member. With the creation of the new position, other new additions can be expected as well. According to Eslahi, an audience response system for active participation in the classroom, cable television in classrooms, podcasting and the extension of such services can be expected.
Eslahi said his first order of business would be to complete the help desk initiative to remodel and enhance the help desk to increase accessibility to students. He said the new help desk would include an information kiosk and a consulting area and that a remodeling plan is currently be discussed with the Physical Plant and Planning.
UIS students start textbook exchange
By Laura Camper - General Assignment Reporter
Thanks to Handel Metcalf and members of the University of Illinois in Champaign Technology and Management Club, a new option has arrived for UIS students looking to buy and sell their used textbooks.
A new Web site, www.uisbx.com, for student-to-student textbook exchange is now up and running because Metcalf, a senior, took matters into his own hands when he saw a need for more choice in buying textbooks.
After hearing complaints about the lack of alternative sources for textbooks at UIS, Metcalf began to explore other options. He learned that because of contract obligations to the campus bookstore the university was not able to sanction any other textbook exchange options. So Metcalf decided to explore university Web sites to see what was available at other schools.
On the UIUC Web site Metcalf found a link to a student-to-student textbook exchange program that had been created by Technology and Management Club members. He contacted the student creators of the Web site and told them he wanted to set up a similar site at UIS. He says, because of the sister school relationship, they were especially excited about helping.
Metcalf and club members financed and set up the Web site, which has been active since early December. According to Metcalf, at this time 43 students are using the site. “I think that’s pretty good. There’s been no formal advertising, just word of mouth.” He says he will be circulating fliers around campus to let students know that the site is out there.
Using the Web site is simple. Just register with a name and contact phone number to log in, post the books you want to sell by ISBN number (found with the cataloging information inside the book), the name of the instructor and the condition of the book. There are even links to other sites selling used textbooks to get a feel for a reasonable price for the book.
Metcalf says the main advantage of using the site is price. “There are no taxes or mailing fees and because of the way we have it set up, you can easily contact the person selling the book.”
The site is free to users and Metcalf is trying to keep it that way by finding corporate sponsors to pick up the cost of hosting and maintaining the site. “We won’t ever have pop-up advertising,” he says. He hopes to find a business or service that students use who will put a small advertisement on the Web page to cover costs. Club members will maintain the site with help from a student on the UIS campus.
Metcalf says, “They (UIUC) have… I don’t know the exact number, I think, thousands of people using the system. It’s very popular at UIUC.” And he says the UIS students he has talked to seem to be excited about the Web site, too.