Volume: 20
Issue: 1
Edition: Winter 2007
Authors: Purita Bristow
Department: I.T. Services
Categories: Portal, Campus Portal
Position in a view: 1
The Campus Portal Is Coming

The Campus Portal will be a vital service for the University of Windsor online experience. The Campus Portal Project is underway. The portal is an important element in the successful delivery of services that support the goals of the University’s strategic plan. The implementation of this project is in support of the University of Windsor’s Plan, “To Greater Heights”, the IT Strategic Plan for 2004 to 2009, and the IT Services 5-year plan. The central theme of the University’s strategic planning document is the development of a learning-centred comprehensive University. In keeping with this theme, one of the IT initiatives for the next few years, the campus portal, will be in concert with the learning-centred theme.

The campus portal will build on the benefits provided by the infrastructure and enterprise directory services that are already in place on campus. The decision of IT Services to acquire the Oracle 10g development tools in 2004, which includes Oracle Portal, to replace the Forte/UDS tools, positioned us well in the implementation of the campus portal. Oracle Portal is the underlying technology for this project.  

The portal will provide a central point of entry into the University of Windsor campus and a gateway to other resources on the Internet. It will set the stage for a “one stop” service delivery approach, enhance the service delivery experience, allow constituents to create a personalized view, tailoring the contents and appearance of the portal to suit their own individual preferences and needs. Access to services and processes will become more relevant to people’s own requirements, as a student, faculty, alumni, prospective student or visitor. It will serve as a common, integrated starting point for access to data, files, images and applications, including business applications both in-house such as the Student Information System (SIS) or commercial applications. The portal will also provide a path to single sign-on (or at least fewer sign-ons) for campus authentication and create an online community for collaboration and finding information efficiently. It will assist in enriching the image of the University and its research community. 

A portal is different from a Web site. A Web site contains a collection of links to other Web pages and Web sites both internal and external. In contrast, a portal enables streamlined access to processes and services that are relevant to the individual user. When a user is logging into the portal, the portal will recognize what role or roles the user has in the institution: student, faculty member, staff member, student, parent, alumni or a combination of roles.

Upon approval of the portal project in the 2006-2007 budget, IT Services started discussions with respect to the implementation of the portal. The project will be a phased approach. It will have a series of building blocks. A snapshot of the different phases is as follows:

In June of 2006, IT Services submitted a proposal for the Campus EAI Oracle Portal Grant Program to the Campus EAI Consortium, a global not-for-profit organization based in Cleveland, Ohio. The grant offering is “in-kind” and ranges from $250,000 to $1,000,000 and the Consortium provides up to 25 full and partial grants on an annual basis. A partnership with EAI is a win-win situation for both the Consortium and the University. Our project timeline coincided with the required timeline of the grant. We were in the middle of planning, training, researching and designing the architecture for the portal. The portal project is one of the major, recognized and essential projects for 2006-2007 and is supported by the University of Windsor senior management group. The University has positioned itself to enhance and provide better service through the portal technology. It is not just another technology project but a way of creating, enhancing and reaching the community through the portal. We believe that the portal will create more synergy and collaboration within the university.

In October 2006, the Consortium sent confirmation to Dr. Ross Paul about the grant award offering to the University of Windsor. From that period until the formal acceptance of the grant in December 2006, IT Services has been working with the Campus EAI Consortium team to finalize the details and the requirements of the agreement. IT Services is pleased to announce that the University of Windsor is the recipient of a one-million dollar grant from the Consortium. Windsor is the third educational institution in Canada to receive this award. McGill University and the Royal Military College have both been awarded grants through this program. This is an exciting opportunity to work with EAI and other universities participating in this group. IT Services views this partnership as an excellent way to expedite the implementation of the portal project.

The implementation of the campus portal embraces the importance of communication and collaboration. IT Services will communicate details of the project with the campus through several avenues which include presentations and dialogue with different groups in both the academic and administrative areas and students. Through collaboration, there is a great opportunity to streamline processes and align our initiatives to benefit all.   We will collaborate with IT providers on campus and the Centre for Smart Community Innovation (CSCI) to enhance and maximize the benefits of the portal.

The Campus Portal provides benefits and improvements to productivity by providing services and useful information from a central place. It will also, through providing better customer service, nurture stronger partnerships with people and groups and address expectations of an increasing Web presence by building a community with more and better collaboration and communication.