Southeast initiating plan to upgrade antiquated computer system

Friday, December 19, 2003

Southeast Missouri State University's antiquated computer systems -- some of which are more than a decade old -- have left the school dependent on outdated technology that is increasingly harder to maintain, officials say.

To correct the problem, school officials plan to spend $2.4 million to dump the school's mainframe equipment and software and re-place it with software and servers that will connect offices through an integrated system, making it easier to share information.

While many students already communicate with the university online to look up their grades or register for classes, the new system will also make these tasks easier and provide quicker access, said student government president Adam Schaefer.

The Board of Regents is expected to vote to purchase the computer software and related equipment from SCT Corp., a Philadelphia-based company. The firm is the largest provider of software for universities and colleges, said Dr. Dennis Holt, vice president of administration and enrollment management at Southeast.

The issue is the major item of business on the agenda for the regents when they meet today at 3 p.m. in the University Center Ballroom.

Holt said the university plans to implement the computer up-grades over the next three years and pay for them over six years.

School officials said the expense will be borne largely through cost savings. Nearly half of the savings would come from eliminating about five computer technician positions through expected retirements. Other savings would come from lower computer maintenance costs and a reduction in printing and copying costs.

Dr. Ken Dobbins, university president, said the financing plan allows the school to make the improvements without raising student fees.

The major upgrade won't be as visible as a "big shiny building," said Holt, but it will affect every major operation on campus, from accounting and financial aid to academic records and student recruitment.

The upgrade will change how the university does business, he said, by allowing the school to reduce its huge volume of paperwork through reliance on electronic documents.

"This is going to be a big change in work style," Holt said.

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