UC Merced IT Projects Chosen for Computerworld Honors Program

MERCED - The University of California, Merced, has been selected as a 2006 Laureate in the Computerworld Honors Program based on the identity-based service architecture the Information Technology department developed for the new campus. The honors program, based in Washington, D.C., is associated with Computerworld magazine and honors leaders in information technology from around the world.

"Being part of the Computerworld Honors Program is a highly appreciated recognition," said UC Merced Chief Information Officer Rich Kogut. "It validates the extent of our accomplishments and celebrates a staff that has performed miracles."

Kogut will attend the Laureates Medal Ceremony in Washington on June 5, representing IT staff members Faust Gorham, Brian Koehmstedt, Enrique Flores, Greg Fellin and others who implemented the identity-based architecture.

"We have taken leading-edge technologies that have been on the periphery at many installations and cast them as fundamental cornerstones of our technology infrastructure," said Kogut. "We have also purposefully separated UC Merced-specific core functionality that support our business rules out from the general infrastructure and applications and services that users interact with, deploying standards-based solutions for those user services, in order to provide maximum flexibility for users now and in the future." This approach allows students, faculty and staff from different disciplines and different institutional backgrounds to meet their different working needs using the specific tools they need.

"Starting from scratch, we had the opportunity to adopt identity management and portal technologies in ways that other universities have not," Kogut said. "We've implemented our identity management system so that a person needs to remember only one login and password, even if he or she begins as an applicant, then progresses to become a student, an alumnus, an employee or even a faculty member at UC Merced someday." In addition to being more convenient for users, the system enhances security - if users don't need to remember more than one password, they can choose a stronger, more complicated password that will be more difficult to access for unauthorized people.

The university has assigned distinct roles for its portal and Web site from the beginning, allowing each to be customized for its own goals. The UC Merced home page ( www.ucmerced.edu) is primarily a marketing tool for future students, faculty and staff.

The portal, which is universal for all UC Merced users, interfaces with the identity management system to customize its display for different users, helping them find the resources they need most from one convenient location, including integrating access to centralized payroll and digital library resources.

UC Merced's "Cat Card," or campus ID card, is a physical manifestation of the identity management system. Rather than having to integrate ID cards and computer services after the fact, UC Merced's card system has been driven from the computer services systems from the beginning. It is used as a debit card, a library card, and ID card and an electronic door key. The Cat Card is even linked to the laundry system in on-campus housing, allowing users to check online to see when their laundry is done.

Another important requirement for this entire system was a high level of automation. This helps the IT department conserve financial and personnel resources to focus on more innovative problem solving for the future as UC Merced grows to serve approximately 25,000 students over the next 30 years.

UC Merced IT staffers have also consciously chosen open-standards solutions in order to avoid vendor lock-in and maintaining a competitive playing field. This also benefits users, who can choose their favorite browsers and e-mail clients.

UC Merced was nominated for the program by Extreme Networks, a vendor with whom the IT department worked on the service architecture. Fellow Laureates in the "Education and Academia" category this year include the Columbia University School of Nursing, the Duke University Health System, Florida State University, George Washington University, UC Berkeley, and the University of Pittsburgh. Of regional interest, the Clovis Unified School District is also a Laureate this year.

Established in 1988, The Computerworld Honors Program is dedicated to a singular and ongoing mission: "A Search for New Heroes." This search annually identifies and records the accomplishments of the men and women, organizations and institutions that are leading the world's ongoing IT revolution.

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