4-page Case Study
Posted: 7/11/2012
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Pace University University Uses Progressive Technologies to Enrich Student Experience, Raise Profile

Pace University sets itself apart with its educational and administrative emphasis on technology. The university invested in a Microsoft Enterprise Client Access License Suite agreement in addition to its Microsoft Campus Agreement. As a result, Pace is cost-effectively embracing a range of solutions that improve communication and collaboration among faculty, staff, and students. For instance, Pace is implementing a customer relationship management solution for responding to and tracking issues related to the student experience and for streamlining communication with prospective and current students and alumni. By building on Microsoft technologies, Pace is conserving costs, both in terms of licensing and efficient management. Ultimately, the university’s technology investments help improve the educational experience for students and better prepare them for future success.

Situation
Pace University is a private metropolitan institute of higher education that enrolls nearly 13,500 students in bachelors, masters, and doctoral programs each year. Part of preparing its students to succeed in the post-collegiate world includes exposing them to the tools that they will likely use in future pursuits. That’s why Pace emphasizes and prioritizes technology use, both in and out of the classroom. “Technology is integral to the overall vision at Pace,” says Thomas Hull, Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Pace University. “We use it to support academics, administration, and student life.”

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* We at Pace University are making a thoughtful and strategic transition from third-party applications to using Microsoft software products for key applications. *

Thomas Hull
Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Pace University

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The university’s strategic technology plan includes integrating technology throughout the new residence halls planned for its New York City and Pleasantville campuses. For example, it wants to equip the buildings’ dorm rooms, shared study spaces, and seminar rooms with state-of-the-art communication and collaboration tools to support student learning. “Today’s students have been using technology tools nearly their entire lives,” says Hull. “They are savvy, tech-centric learners who expect technology to be part of both their personal and educational lives, and we want to give them what they need to be successful.”

Beyond student use of technology, Pace wants its employees to use technology to improve their interactions and service to students. Until recently, however, there was no central mechanism for communicating with Pace students, who received everything from notices about bills and financial aid to calls regarding residence information in a haphazard manner. “You would be surprised how many higher-education institutions do not know what their different departments are doing and all the ways they use to communicate with students at any given time,” says Matthew Bonilla, Assistant Vice President in the Office of Student Assistance at Pace University. “We faced the same challenges, so we wanted to streamline all communications to students and operate as a single, cohesive entity.” University decision makers also knew that improving communication would help Pace provide faster, better service to students for everything from dorm room repairs to academic issues.

The university also sought to improve interactions with prospective students and its alumni community. Pace wanted to deliver a more unified experience, so it needed to find a way to better manage student information, from tracking initial inquiries to establishing closer ties with alumni. “We determined that a customer relationship management system would help us with recruiting and boost fundraising through better alumni relations, ultimately resulting in a higher profile for the university,” says Hull.

Solution
Pace University has a range of technologies in its environment, but it increasingly turns to Microsoft solutions to solve business problems. “We like being Microsoft-centric because of how closely all the software works together,” says Hull. “Plus, we have more than 90 applications available to us through the educational division of Microsoft.”

The university signed a Microsoft Campus Agreement years ago that covered its faculty and staff, and later added students. “We received requests for products and saw a lot of Microsoft technology use on our campuses, so we decided to make Microsoft Office products and operating system upgrades available to every student as well as university personnel,” says Christopher Elarde, Assistant Vice President of Business Operations for Information Technology Services at Pace University.

Pace built on the popularity of those Microsoft solutions by adding the Microsoft Enterprise Client Access License (CAL) Suite agreement and unlimited Core server platform agreement. “We wanted an integrated end-to-end solution for our users,” says Hull. “Implementing and maintaining various incompatible open source solutions and non-integrated public domain software can be much more difficult. With the well-supported software products that are included in the Enterprise CAL Suite, we were able to choose a strategic life cycle management approach.”

Pace students used to be responsible for their own software licensing. Now that they are covered by the university licensing plan, they pay one student technology fee and receive access to all the Microsoft products that the license includes. “Receiving Microsoft licensing through us is a very attractive benefit for students, one that saves them money because they do not have to license the products individually,” says Elarde.

Internal Communication and Collaboration
Pace deployed multiple Microsoft technologies that are covered under the Enterprise CAL Suite to foster communication and collaboration among faculty, staff, and students. Both educators and administrators are increasingly using workgroup-specific sites in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 to post and share documents, track status, and manage projects. The university also implemented a higher-education data warehouse tool called Blackboard Analytics, which it runs on Microsoft SQL Server 2008 data management software and SharePoint Server 2010.

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* Implementing and maintaining various incompatible open source solutions and non-integrated public domain software can be … difficult. With the well-supported software products that are included in the Enterprise CAL Suite, we were able to choose a strategic life cycle management approach. *

Thomas Hull
Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Pace University

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“Although we started using SharePoint Server 2010 a few years ago, we still consider Pace in the ramp-up stage of where we see it taking us,” says Elarde. One major Pace initiative involves building a SharePoint portal that will make university-wide policies readily available to everyone. “We want employees throughout our campuses to have one clear, easy place to find what they need, with no more time wasted trying to find policy information,” continues Elarde.

When it comes to interacting with students, Pace faculty and staff members now use Microsoft Lync Server 2010 communications software. They have the Lync 2010 client installed on their desktop computers, and they are beginning to use it with their mobile devices. In fact, the university removed office employees’ telephones entirely; they all reach each other through Lync, and they are testing a voice over IP (VoIP) solution that uses Lync Server for audio conferencing.

Professors now can easily maintain extended virtual office hours, offering students greater opportunities for one-to-one discussions. “Students and faculty use Lync conferencing to get the feeling of in-person interactions without either party having to travel between campuses,” explains Hull. “They use it for advisory sessions and class-related subject matter.”

For messaging, Pace relies on Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, and the university’s Information Technology Services (ITS) staff manages approximately 5,000 faculty and staff mailboxes. University employees use the system’s shared calendaring, email address distribution lists, and integration with Active Directory for single-sign-on capabilities. Pace plans to adopt Microsoft Office 365, including the Microsoft Exchange Online component, and add students to its hybrid managed Exchange environment. At that time, its entire population of more than 30,000 total mailboxes will move to a hybrid Exchange 2010–based solution.

Systems to Provide Student Services
The university is employing the power of Microsoft technologies to deliver and track student services. For example, the university’s Office of Student Assistance worked with the ITS department and created a SharePoint-based solution that the office uses to improve delivery of housing, financial aid, and other student services among the Pace campuses. “Our SharePoint site includes a cross-departmental operational calendar that streamlines all communications to students,” says Bonilla. “We assigned proper access rights, and now students no longer receive mixed messages at different intervals, overlapping notices, and other instances of departments’ lack of coordination and visibility.”

The Office of Student Assistance employees also use Lync to support students. In addition to conducting live chats with students, employees use it to share documents and hold both impromptu and planned videoconferences between the university’s separate campuses. All correspondence with a given student is noted and saved so that any employee can read the history before interacting with that student and spare him or her from repeating information.

Pace also is deploying a student customer relationship management (CRM) solution that uses Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The university will use it to support services for current students and also for admission and enrollment of new students, contact and lead-opportunity management related to Pace alumni, and recruitment of student athletes.

IT Management Tools
Of course, an organization’s technologies can only make a positive difference if computers and solutions work properly, which is why Pace uses a range of Microsoft tools to manage and help safeguard its environment. As of June 2012, the university is using Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 and Microsoft Forefront Client Security. However, Pace will upgrade to System Center 2012 Configuration Manager and System Center 2012 Endpoint Protection in the next several months.

Some of those tools replaced third-party products that required separate licenses and management. “We’ve seen both the System Center and Forefront products perform well for us, and they are cost-effective through our Campus Agreement,” says Laurie Witham, Director of Technical Services for Information Technology Services at Pace University. “We also look forward to the added features in the new versions we are deploying. For instance, the integrated client management in System Center 2012 Endpoint Protection will be beneficial.”

Pace uses the Virtual Machine Manager component of System Center 2012, is in the midst of an upgrade to the Operations Manager component, and hopes to implement Forefront Online Protection for Exchange in the future.

Benefits
By making an investment in an Enterprise CAL Suite agreement, Pace University can embrace technologies easily and cost-effectively, and it is poised to adopt emerging technologies as they become available. The move helps Pace provide ongoing support for faculty, staff, and students and extend the classroom outside the university’s walls. “We at Pace University are making a thoughtful and strategic transition from third-party applications to using Microsoft software products for key applications,” says Hull. “We really like the support and large Microsoft community of partners in which we can find skills that we need, as well as the value the software delivers for a lower price than others in the marketplace.”

Competitive Advantages
Pace has differentiated its offerings by enhancing students’ educational experiences with new technologies in classrooms and new software for online and distance learning in a virtual classroom environment. The university considers its efforts to put leading-edge technology building blocks in place as vital to its ability to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. “Technology is going to enable us to better compete in the national and global marketplace for online classes,” says Hull. “We see ourselves using it to build new certificate and degree programs, among others, that are educational and also generate revenue.”

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* We like being Microsoft-centric because of how closely all the software works together. Plus, we have more than 90 applications available to us through the educational division of Microsoft.” *

Thomas Hull
Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Pace University

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The university’s faculty fully supports this forward-thinking perspective. “We’re providing a dynamic and flexible experience for our students,” says Hull. “Our professors not only incorporate integrated multimedia while teaching, but they also make themselves available to students for interactions outside the classroom through a range of devices. They’ve embraced a virtual, asynchronous learning paradigm.”

Pace believes that its use of Microsoft technologies also helps its students gain their own competitive edge before they leave Pace and enter the workforce. “We want to provide our students with skills training and experience with Microsoft technologies, in particular Microsoft Office and communications tools,” says Hull. “Their practice using such predominant productivity tools will ease their transition from the academic to the professional environment.”

Thanks to its Enterprise CAL Suite agreement, the university has continuing access to emerging technologies and can therefore ensure that students get exposure to the latest software tools. “We want our Microsoft infrastructure to extend throughout all aspects of the university’s environment, so we pay close attention to next-generation technologies on the server and end-user side,” says Hull. “Having our licensing already in place through the Enterprise CAL Suite makes it possible for us to jump just as soon as we see a need to fill.”

Information Technology Services Staff Efficiencies
Pace credits its employees’ work ethic and smart use of management tools for the university’s ability to operate with such a lean ITS staff; Pace has only nine ITS staff members, yet they are able to support more than 15,000 students, faculty, and administrators on three campuses. “By using integrated Microsoft products throughout our environment, we can be highly effective, such as maintaining a great ratio of users to technicians, who provide the users with desktop services,” says Hull. “Our ITS department can be extremely productive with enterprise system maintenance as well, because the Microsoft system management tools are so easy to use and don’t require trivial types of system administration.”

Increased Employee Productivity and Flexibility
The university’s faculty and staff accomplish more tasks each day because they can work from anywhere, including holding virtual office hours and meetings by using Lync Server 2010. They also can be more efficient because they have tools that improve collaboration. “As a multicampus environment, it is critical that employees on three different campuses be able to cross-reference and communicate with their counterparts,” says Bonilla. For instance, if an employee encounters an issue on one campus, it is fast and easy to check for available help from another office through Lync, using it to send a document or initiate a quick chat. “The kind of regular communication and sharing we do now did not take place before Lync,” continues Bonilla. “Email and phone correspondence just didn’t work well enough.”

The university also can tackle new challenges, due in large part to the technologies that it has put in place. For example, Pace is starting an educational health sciences program in Singapore to address the significant problem of tuberculosis. “Without using Lync for conferencing, shared desktops, and presence information, it would be impossible to embark on this sort of program in an effective, affordable way,” says Hull.

Enhanced Service to Students
In surveys conducted by the Office of Student Assistance between 2011 and 2012, Pace faculty, staff, and students reported an improvement in nearly every category of university service—from increased satisfaction with email inquiries to timeliness and accuracy of information.

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* With our infrastructure made up of integrated Microsoft technologies, we do not have to spend time and resources maintaining expertise in multiple platforms and tools. *

Thomas Hull
Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Pace University

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“Since we adopted a coordinated communication solution, Pace has received improved satisfaction ratings,” says Bonilla. “Students appreciate that we’re not only more organized, but also that we’re able to be more responsive. The university has reduced the overall number of notices and other communications with students and is focusing on those that matter most. We’re confident that future satisfaction scores and statistics will show that we’ve done away with what students called the ‘Pace runaround.’”

Adds Elarde, “Providing quick responses that make sense—either through our online, phone, or in-person services—demonstrates to Pace students that the university is harnessing technology tools to make improvements that truly help. We want them to feel the positive effects of all Pace areas working tightly together, with information flowing among them for a more comprehensive experience for each student.”

Closer Relationships Throughout the Student Life Cycle
Pace anticipates that its upcoming CRM system will help improve its relationship with students, whether those students are making an initial inquiry about the university, currently enrolled, or graduated from Pace years ago. “Everyone will be assisted, tracked, and supported using the Microsoft Dynamics CRM solution, which gives our various university areas a more personal and efficient way of handling our relationships with students,” says Hull.

The university seeks to encourage its alumni to stay involved, perhaps through participation in a certificate or graduate degree program, as philanthropy partners or internship providers, and in other capacities. “We hope to have as positive a relationship with our alumni as we have with current students,” says Bonilla. “Right now, it’s a struggle to connect with the majority of Pace alumni. Improving our contact with them and the involvement of Pace alumni through our CRM solution will definitely raise the profile of the university and enhance our reputation.”

Effective Use of Financial Resources
As with most organizations, Pace needs to make intelligent budgetary decisions, and the Enterprise CAL Suite helps the university keep IT-related costs down while still providing valuable tools to its students and employees. In addition to paying far less than if it had to purchase its products individually, the university saves in other ways. “We are just starting to attach a phone circuit to Lync Server to use for audio conferencing, so we will see a cost savings of up to [US]$3,000 per year from that, and eliminating our previous web conferencing solution removes the need to pay an additional $1,500 in third-party licensing,” says Elarde. “If the pilot trial proves that the VoIP functionality in Lync is viable for Pace, we will expand its use around the university and expect to see cost savings from that as well.” By basing the upcoming CRM solution on Microsoft technologies, Pace will spend just $18,000, rather than the millions of dollars that a custom solution would cost.

Those savings can add up, especially combined with the university’s ability to effectively manage its multicampus environment with such a small ITS staff. “With our infrastructure made up of integrated Microsoft technologies, we do not have to spend time and resources maintaining expertise in multiple platforms and tools,” says Hull. “A key aspect of our strategic plan is to continue to take advantage of the Enterprise CAL Suite and further the university’s use of compatible technologies.”

Microsoft Infrastructure Optimization
With infrastructure optimization, you can build a secure, well-managed, and dynamic core IT infrastructure that can reduce overall IT costs, make better use of resources, and become a strategic asset for the business. The Infrastructure Optimization model—with basic, standardized, rationalized, and dynamic levels—was developed by Microsoft using industry best practices and Microsoft’s own experiences with enterprise customers. The Infrastructure Optimization model provides a maturity framework that is flexible and easily used as a benchmark for technical capability and business value.

For more information about Microsoft infrastructure optimization, go to:
www.microsoft.com/businessproductivity

For More Information
For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers in the United States and Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:
www.microsoft.com

For more information about Pace University products and services, call (866) 722-3338 or visit the website at:
www.pace.edu

Solution Overview



Organization Size: 2000 employees

Organization Profile

Based in New York, New York, Pace University delivers a combination of exceptional academics and professional experience to approximately 13,500 students each year at its three campuses.


Business Situation

The university aims to distinguish itself from the competition through forward-thinking use of technology for communication and collaboration among its approximately 2,000 faculty and staff and its students.


Solution

Pace invested in a Microsoft Enterprise Client Access License Suite agreement, which simplifies its adoption of key technologies such as Microsoft Lync Server 2010 and Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010.


Benefits

  • Competitive advantages
  • Information Technology Services staff efficiencies
  • Increased employee productivity
  • Enhanced service to students
  • Effective use of financial resources


Software and Services
  • Microsoft Enterprise CAL Suite
  • Microsoft Exchange Server 2010
  • Microsoft Lync Server 2010
  • Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
  • Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007
  • Microsoft System Center Reporting Manager
  • Microsoft Forefront Client Security
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM
  • Microsoft System Center 2012 Operations Manager
  • Microsoft System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager

Vertical Industries
Higher Education

Country/Region
United States

Business Need
  • Cost Containment
  • Unified Communications
  • Business Critical

Languages
English

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