Appendix G

9/18/18

SENATE COMMITTEE ON LIBRARIES, INFORMATION SYSTEMS, AND TECHNOLOGY

Proposed Changes to the Senate Website

(Advisory/Consultative)

Overview

The Faculty Senate Website hosts information for faculty and students regarding the Faculty Senate’s mission, structure, and governance, the standing and special committees that form the core of the Senate’s activities, as well as a repository of publicly available documents, including the senate newsletter, agendas and records of the plenary meetings, as well as the Senate Bylaws and regulations.

The current design of the Senate website is in need of an overhaul to meet its purpose and reach its intended audience.

In its current design, it is not clear whether the target audience is that of current senators, faculty and students, or the general public. The site does not have a professional appearance, especially compared to similar sites at other Big Ten institutions, comparable to Penn State, and seems more like a site for internal use than a public site intended to show case the role and mission of the Faculty Senate and its importance among the University’s institutions. In particular, the connection to the Penn State brand seems tenuous at best.

The site is not easily navigated, and does not have a consistent appearance from page to page, which makes finding information and searching for specific items more difficult and time consuming. There is limited availability to Senate records, and they are not organized in a searchable database. Similarly the list of current senators and their contact information should be more readily available. Access to the Committees’ charge, current members, and public records is likewise not prominently displayed on the site.

Given the widespread use of mobile devices, a more agile, modern site is highly desirable. In particular, the cumbersome layout of the drop-down menus should be replaced with a more modular design that encompasses side and pop-up menus optimized for viewing on portable devices, such as tablets and mobile phones. Quick access to key links should be provided in each page.

The Senate Website, while not intended to replace the platform used by the Senate and the Committees to conduct their business (currently BoardEffect), could play a role in ensuring continuity and shaping the future of this fundamental University institution by providing a platform-independent access to historical records. Access to sensitive records and records not for public view could be ensured   through the creation of a secure portal, meeting all the University standards for internet security, such as two-factor authentication and the use of a Virtual Private Network.

Recommendations

  1. Layout: Currently the Senate website is hosted on sites.psu.edu. It would be desirable and more appropriate to have it part of the University site, and professionally maintained. There is enough expertise in the University IT staff to advise the Senate on these matters. The PSU logo should have a more centered and prominent location.

The main page should contain a description of the Senate’s mission, important announcements, a search form, a form to search for senators by unit and contact them, a contact email/form, a link to BoardEffect, and a relevant menu, in particular a link to records and committees.

Pictures of faculty and administrators during Senate meetings should be replaced in favor of pictures showcasing the strength of Penn State and its members, the beauty of the different campuses for instance.

  1. Navigation: The menu should be clearer and more informative. As an example, the following menu items could be included:  Members, Schedule, Committees, Meetings, BoardEffect, Reports/Policies, About, Contact, Get Involved. In particular, the link to BoardEffect should be highlighted.  There should be an easy-to-find link back to the home page, search form, and contact form on each page.
  2. Content: A searchable database of current senators and officers together with their contact information should be available either on the home page or as a menu item.  A searchable database of recent and historical records and policies should also be made available. Information on standing and special Committees, including charge, current members, minutes (with or without authenticated access) should be readily available as a menu item, or on a page dedicates to senators.

A list of recent items discussed by the Senate and major decisions taken by the Senate should be available in some form.

It should be decided whether items should be brought to the Senate by contacting unit senators, in which case the contact form should be more of a feedback/information only form, or if faculty/students should be able to bring items for considerations directly to the Senate governance, in which case the contact form should include a link to appropriate Senate staff.

SENATE COMMITTEE ON LIBRARIES, INFORMATION SYSTEMS, AND TECHNOLOGY 2017-2018

  • Fred Aebli
  • Robert Bridges
  • Mary Beth Clark
  • Barbara Dewey
  • Roger Egolf, Chair
  • Joseph Enama
  • Mathew Krott
  • Michael Kubit
  • Anna Mazzucato
  • John Messner
  • Terry O’Heron
  • Barry Pawlowski
  • Jacqueline Reid-Walsh
  • Jennifer Sparrow
  • Eric Walker, Vice Chair

SENATE COMMITTEE ON LIBRARIES, INFORMATION SYSTEMS, AND TECHNOLOGY 2018-2019

  • Fred Aebli, Vice chair
  • Mary Beth Clark
  • Barbara Dewey
  • Roger Egolf, Chair
  • David Han
  • Michael Kubit
  • John Messner
  • Jacqueline Reid-Walsh
  • Francesca Ruggiero
  • Shuang Shen
  • Harold Smith
  • Jennifer Sparrow
  • Christine Truica