Campus Technology Support Help Desk moves down the hall in Student Services Building

Construction activity in the Student Services Building on the campus of Eastern Illinois University has prompted relocation of walkup Help Desk facilities beginning with Fall Semester 2014.

Work related to the installation of an elevator to improve access to upper floors of the Student Services Building has necessitated moving the walkup location of Campus Technology Support’s Help Desk to Room 1040 — just a few feet down the lower level hallway of the Student Services Building — from Room 1014, in which the Help Desk had been located. Students, faculty and staff can still walk in at the new location to receive in-person assistance with their technology issues.

Campus Technology Support continues to provide assistance with your technology-related questions. You may receive assistance by Live Chat (, email (, by walking in to the lower level of the Student Services Building or by calling 217 581-4357. You also may follow on Twitter, @eiu_itshelp

Staff members will be able to assist you with troubleshooting and how-to questions on a variety of computer, application and connectivity issues related to accessing EIU services. Staff members also have the ability to assist you remotely using an application called LogMeIn. This is a very helpful tool and often times allows first-call resolution.

When contacting Campus Technology Support, please have the following information available:

  • Name and E-number
  • If an employee, the EIU red tag number on your computer
  • Location
  • Phone number
  • Full description of the problem and nature of the error message


ITS to move contracted hardware repair work in-house, resulting in substantial cost savings

Repair work on desktop and laptop computers now being performed under contract by Advanced Microelectronics, in coordination with Information Technology Services, will be moved in-house this summer.

Beginning July 1, contracted computer hardware and software support provided by AME will be done by ITS personnel, resulting in substantial financial savings to Eastern and providing continuity of service to faculty and staff at the university.

Eastern has contracted with AME for computer warranty repair work for the past 10 years, but that relationship is ending, and by rolling that support function into ITS, the university expects to save $50,000 to $80,000 per year in costs, said Assistant Vice President for Information Technology Services Kathy Reed.

Chadd Gaston, who has been the AME service technician on campus for the past five years, will become a member of ITS and continue performing work similar to what he did as an employee of AME, with added duties as a desktop technician in ITS’s User Services desktop technicians unit.

“After looking into it and what we were paying, we figured it was more cost effective to bring the work in house with an Eastern employee rather than have it contracted out,” said ITS Associate Director of User Services Dave Emmerich.

Under the contract program, hardware warranty work on university-owned Dell and Hewlett-Packard PCs and Apple machines was done by AME in a workshop located in the lower level of the Student Services Building, in coordination with ITS (Gaston will continue to work out of SSB Room 1041). Warranty work, as well as ordinary hardware repairs, also was performed on students’ personal computers, including those brands and other brands, at an hourly shop rate. AME also provided printer support for campus printers, operating system repairs and virus removal for student-owned machines and backup, as well as restores or setups of new machines for students.

Under the new regimen, student computer repairs will now be done through the Campus Bookstore, located in the University Union, and students should take their computers there for warranty work or ordinary hardware repairs or operating system problems starting July 1.

Gaston said that as an employee of AME, he worked on an average of 25-40 university-owned computers per month, plus about 20 student personal machines. He said that in recent years, the university has been rotating computers in and out more frequently, resulting in an inventory of machines that is newer overall, requiring less repair work. That, along with computers that are better built, and other factors, lessened the need to contract out repair work.

“It’s going to be a very smooth transition because I am already aware of ITS policies, procedures and expectations,” Gaston said. “I know the people I will be working with and they know me, and I am looking forward to it. I’ll be doing the same basic job, just reporting differently.”



Student email accounts successfully migrated to Office 365

Information Technology Services has completed the migration of more than 20,000 student email accounts to Office 365.

The transition, from Zimbra-based PantherMail, which had been used to provide official campus email service for students for several years, to Office 365, began May 13 and was largely concluded May 24.

The move was made to provide improved service to students while saving licensing costs for the university.

About 22,000 student accounts were migrated as part of the project.

“For the most part it went smoothly,” said ITS Associate Director of User Services Dave Emmerich. “There were a few ‘gotchas,’ but we were able to figure them out.”

Students who encountered issues with some of their email folders or messages were able to call the Help Desk to get assistance, and any problems were resolved.

The changeover will save on Zimbra software licensing fees and free up data storage, which will make possible other subsequent cost savings.

One of the primary advantages of Office 365 for students is the inclusion of 50 gb of cloud data storage space with the account.

Although the move to Office 365 will mean a new email interface for users, it will not affect students’ NetIDs or passwords, nor their email address or mailbox content. Students also will continue to log in to their accounts from the current PantherMail webpage.

The change will provide students with a number of new resources, chief among them free access to the full version of Microsoft Office suite applications, including Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, Lync, SharePoint and more. This includes rights to download and install copies of the newest Office desktop applications on up to five Windows PCs or Macs owned by the student, as well as rights to run iPhone or Android editions of Office Mobile. Purchased by individuals, Microsoft Office can cost $150 or more.

While Office 365 will be practical on all digital platforms, the mobile-friendly application is expected to be especially convenient to students who, more and more frequently, access their university email accounts via their smartphones.







Dr. Weber looks back on career at Eastern, ahead at technology

If he didn’t want to, Dr. William Weber wouldn’t have to worry about the long-term future of information technology at Eastern.

After all, the university’s vice president for Business Affairs, whose portfolio of responsibilities includes oversight of Information Technology Services, will be retiring May 31.

But even though he’ll be moving on to the next phase of his own life, Dr. Weber’s personal and professional affinity for IT, along with his family’s decades-long connection to the university, won’t let him be unconcerned.

“Information technology at Eastern is in very good shape,” Dr. Weber said. “There’s no doubt we are doing better in this area than many of our peers. There are few institutions of our type – public, comprehensive universities – that offer the level of technology support for students, faculty and staff that we offer.

“The abilities that our faculty have to incorporate technology in many different ways into classrooms, the academic technology equipment we have in our classrooms across campus, the strengths of our Internet infrastructure and technical support, and our wireless buildout  – all of these things we can be quite proud of,” he said.

That’s how Dr. Weber assesses the current and near-term state of IT at Eastern. Farther out, it’s not easy to make predictions about the direction of technology, he said, not to mention the uncertainties of state funding for higher education in Illinois and the resulting impact on budgets.

“Long-range thinking about technology is extremely difficult,” Dr. Weber said. “In the 1960s and ‘70s, popular culture envisioned the computers of the future as big, monstrous things. It’s still hard to comprehend that I carry in my pocket a device with the computing power of something that sat on my desktop less than 10 years ago.”

Industry hasn’t done much better.

“Look at the rise of mobile computing. Microsoft has huge talent yet never figured it out. Apple, despite all its talent, has really never been successful at Web services. Social networking and its consequences is something we never would have predicted 20 years ago. My point is that there are a lot of people much better versed on the issue than I am, and I don’t know that they have figured out what will happen with technology in the long run.”

While the future of information technology is wide open, paying for that technology at Eastern is more problematic.

“Moving forward, I think we are going to enter a period of consolidation in technology,” Dr. Weber said. “We’re simply at the point where we can’t afford for everybody to have their own type of system. We’ve got to make the transition to something more closely resembling a shared-services model. We’re going to have to have greater consolidation of technology resources so we can more fully utilize the resources we’ve invested in technology.

“There’s no doubt that we’re going to have to invest to keep improving our technology infrastructure. We’re going to have to continue to aggressively build out wireless to support ‘any device, any-time, any  place’ learning. We’re also at the point where a lot of the equipment we invested in as part of the Internet upgrade back in 2004 is reaching end of life, and we’re in the process of doing those upgrades.”

Paying for technology is not a new problem, however, Dr. Weber said.

“Even back in the day when we were first talking about what was then called ‘Distance Education,’ affording technology and choosing the right areas to invest in were issues. I remember when we used long-distance telephone revenues to finance our IT infrastructure and then we had to find a new revenue stream when students started using cell phones instead of the landlines in the residence halls. Funding our IT investments is not a new challenge; we’ve always been faced with that,” he said. “At least one advantage of technology is that once a standard becomes clear, prices come down and come down rapidly.”

One tool he hopes to see implemented to help the university make the right choices is a “virtual space” where faculty, students and staff can submit and explore ideas to help choose technologies on which to spend.

Dr. Weber, who earned his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Kansas in 1985, has worked at Eastern for 26 years and in higher education for a total of 30 years. He joined the faculty here in 1988 and was promoted to professor in 1995. He was appointed vice president for Business Affairs in 2009.

His time as the university’s chief budget officer coincided with a period of diminished financial support from the state of Illinois.

It was just six months after he started his current post that the state’s cash-flow issues began, in fiscal year 2010, with Springfield delaying its payments to universities and state agencies by as much as six months.

“In my tenure as vice president, we have not seen a year in which we received our full appropriation in the fiscal year it was due,” he said. “It would have been nice to have seen a good budget year. It has taken a lot of approaches to survive.”

Those approaches began with stringent spending controls, then the building and tapping of capital reserves and then the aggressive use of carry-forward funds. Now, the university is in the midst of program analysis to determine where future budget cuts must be made.

Dr. Weber has spent the latter years of his career at Eastern as an administrator focusing on university finances. But he has always considered himself an educator, and looking back at his career here, he counts his work on behalf of faculty at the university as one of his most important achievements.

“When I first took a leadership role in the faculty union, University Professionals of Illinois, Local 4100, our faculty salaries were in the 10th and 20th percentiles relative to our peers nationwide,” he said.  “Today, we’ve been sustaining faculty salaries in the 50th and occasionally the 60th percentiles. The improvement in faculty salaries took a lot of work and commitment from a lot of people. That, and other contractual language in Eastern’s UPI agreement, I’m really proud of that work.”

Dr. Weber said he also takes pride in his contributions to collaborative strategic planning efforts to delineate the university’s direction as well as his role in developing Eastern’s mission statement. A more recent favorite accomplishment has been his involvement with the colored-lighting system to illuminate the front of Old Main: “If you haven’t seen the Fourth of July lighting display for the castle, it’s worth it,” he said.

Though he will be stepping away from his current role at the end of May, Dr. Weber’s efforts on behalf of Eastern will not end, and he plans to remain in Charleston. This summer, he will conclude work on an Educational Advisory Board study of college affordability. He also will be making a presentation at a gathering in Seattle of the National Association of College and University Business Officers, and he plans to travel to China to visit and lecture at Linyi University.

He also has not ruled out returning to the classroom to teach economics or mathematics, having a role in the School of Continuing Education or taking on ad hoc projects that may arise in the future.

Personally, he hopes to take a cruise to Alaska this summer and expand his avocation for digital imaging and editing.

As he reflects on his career and prepares to step back, Dr. Weber said he is not thinking in terms of his legacy or how his contributions are remembered. “I just hope that people recognize that throughout all 26 years, whatever role I played, I tried to do what was best for the students, faculty and staff of the university.”

Dr. Weber recounted how his grandmother started college at Eastern in 1930. Although marriage and years of raising a family intervened, she never gave up on her dream of earning a degree, even attending classes with her daughter – who would grow up to be Dr. Weber’s mother – in tow. In 1959 – 29 years after attending her first classes at Eastern – she finally earned her degree in education from Evansville College (now the University of Evansville) in Indiana.

“Eastern has always been a special place for my family,” he said. “It gave my grandmother her start, and it’s given me a fantastic 26-year career.”











Help Desk internships benefit Eastern student workers

The ability to look at problems from the other person’s perspective. Patience. Communication skills.

For Eastern students employed at Information Technology Services’ Help Desk, those traits are critical to success in assisting university faculty, staff and other students with their technology problems.

They’re also the kinds of skills that permit those same students to achieve personal success in their academic and professional careers after their days of working on the Help Desk end.

Each semester, ITS hires up to about a dozen student workers to round out staffing of the Help Desk – Eastern’s telephone-based, walk-in and online resource for assisting campus technology users with hardware, software and network issues. Those students answer phones, reset passwords and provide front-line assistance to IT users needing help. The arrangement provides ITS with needed staffing resources and gives student workers a source of income to help with college expenses.

It also gives those students a skill set that prepares them for life after their undergraduate careers at Eastern.

And the most important skill?

That, undoubtedly, would be an affinity for customer service.

“We take a good look at their resumes and their previous work experience, but the thing we fall back on is customer service, how they relate in the interview,” said Cay Kolling, student worker supervisor in User Services, the ITS unit that operates the Help Desk. “They don’t necessarily have to have a technology background, but they have to be focused on customer service.”

This spring, five student employees are completing their senior years and graduating. All of them will be either continuing their educational careers by entering graduate school or have already found jobs.

DiMarcko Gray will remain at Eastern pursuing his master’s degree in computer technology.

Emeka Evulukwu is weighing job offers from a video gaming company in San Francisco or a position in the technology department at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

Leonard Gilbert plans to work for a technology company in St. Louis.

Angela Jackson plans to get a master’s degree in social work from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.

Jonathan Lewis will be working full time for Ford Motor Co in Dearborn, Mich.

“Working at the ITS Help Desk has directly aligned me to succeed in my post graduate career,” said Lewis. “As a management information systems major, I couldn’t have asked for a better environment to apply my classroom knowledge in the field. The learning opportunities afforded to student workers are endless.”

Lewis said he also shadowed ITS teams, which allowed him to be better prepared for a full-time job at Ford. He also cited opportunities to volunteer for side projects that provide experience normally afforded only to full-time staff.
“The knowledge and mentoring obtained while working here is priceless,” he said.

Gray, who has spent his entire student time at Eastern working at the Help Desk, said his experience there has influenced him to seek a career in information technology.

“It’s been great working here,” he said. “The staff has been flexible with my class schedule and accessible for help.”
Gray said that while he has learned technical skills, he has also honed his “people” skills as well: “The most important thing is customer service, getting what they need done, communicating,” he said.

Evulukwu said a basic understanding of computers is a good thing to have for students working at the Help Desk, but he added that patience is more important.

“It’s the most valuable thing in dealing with people,” he said.

“The atmosphere is very friendly. Your coworkers care about your well-being and what you are going through. It’s kind of a little family,” he added.

For Gilbert, a student job at the Help Desk seemed natural, since members of his family work in IT.

“The best thing about working here is the demands of the job,” he said. “You won’t be bored. You get a chance to do different kinds of thing, and you have a sense that it’s something different.”

Jackson, too, emphasized the people skills she has acquired serving callers to the Help Desk.

“I gained computer skills that will help me in the future, but I also gain people skills,” she said. “Being respectful and making people feel comfortable.”

“My advice is to try it out,” she said about future student considering taking a Help Desk position.
Kolling said 10 students were employed at the Help Desk during spring semester – about average.

“We hire according to how their schedules fit our needs and work around them,” she said.

Patch fixes Internet Explorer browser security flaw

A security flaw affecting Microsoft’s Internet Explorer Web browser has been fixed without any indication that it impacted computers or users at Eastern.

Information Technology Services’ Assistant Director of Information Security Mike Gioia said the exploit was corrected as part of a Microsoft update patch distributed this week.

The patch was applied to computers at Eastern through the campus network. Users need not take any action themselves except to restart or log on/off of their computers to activate the patch, Gioia said.

The security glitch, which came to light last weekend, gave potential data thieves the same level of access to personal information as legitimate users of networked computers using the Internet Explorer browser.

At Eastern, Internet Explorer is the Web browser employed by the university’s Banner administrative computing system, but the security flaw did not pose any threat to that system, Gioia said. While Banner is connected to the Web via Explorer, that in itself would not have made it vulnerable. To fall victim to the exploit, a Web browser user would have had navigated to and clicked on an infected website and downloaded the bug in order to infect his or her computer.

To mitigate risk for yourself you should perform a windows update on any personal machines.  Gioia stresses the importance to keep any computer’s OS up-to-date. 

Internet Explorer has a 22 percent share of the Web browser market worldwide.

Eastern acts to address ‘Heartbleed’ IT vulnerability

A security vulnerability in the software used to encrypt sensitive data transmitted over the Internet has been receiving a lot of attention in recent days, but the defect is not expected to affect systems or users at Eastern.

University information technology personnel have installed patches on campus servers that potentially could have been affected by the Heartbleed coding flaw. That should alleviate any threat to campus IT resources and the faculty, staff and students who depend on them

Heartbleed is the name of the vulnerability coded into the software that runs Secure Socket Layer. SSL is the open source protocol that encrypts financial, personal and other sensitive information such as passwords and account numbers when it is transmitted over the Internet. The flaw could allow hackers to gain access to and steal that information.

The Heartbleed bug is thought to have been in existence for two years but was not known to the general public until it was revealed earlier this month by IT coders as part of the open sourcing process.  That caused a stir in security circles because the existence of Heartbleed was not generally known, and its revelation may have alerted potential hackers to the vulnerability. The flaw is not thought to have been created maliciously but instead is believed to simply be a coding error that escaped detection.

“What bothers security professionals is that it’s good to identify a potential exploitation so it can be patched, but it’s bad to release it to the general public because then hackers find out about it and try to exploit it,” said Eastern’s Assistant Director of Information Security Mike Gioia of ITS.

To this point, there have been no known malicious exploitations of Heartbleed and no known data thefts – though it would be difficult to know if such exploitations have occurred because the process of “sniffing” data leaves no tell-tale evidence.

At Eastern, the process of protecting against Heartbleed involved installing patches on a few servers thought to be potentially vulnerable to the flaw, causing a network disruption that lasted a few minutes. No data breaches are known to have occurred.

Gioia said two thirds of servers in the world employ SSL. Sites that use the protocol are easily identified by the “s” part of the “https” section of a website’s URL, or the inclusion of a tiny padlock icon in the URL line.

Security professionals have advised website users to change their passwords as a precaution in light of the Heartbleed vulnerability.

Beyond that, there’s little that the average person can do to protect themselves against incidents such as Heartbleed, since the vulnerability exists on the service-provide side of the network, Gioia said.


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