Ken Freeman was named the vice president of Information Technology (IT) at Webster University on March 2. He has held the position of interim vice president since April 2011. Freeman was one of three final candidates for the position after a national search.
Michael Mueller, Saint Louis University’s current Information Technology services director, and Devin Davis, Clayton School District’s current chief informational officer, were also considered for the position. All three candidates participated in open-forum interviews with students, staff and faculty in February.
Freeman said IT has been taking and will continue to take an approach focusing on people, process and technology. He would like to do that by establishing standardization and measurement, and assessing how IT interacts internally and with other aspects of the university.
Freeman said these are basic aspects of IT organizations and are similar in his experience working in higher education.
“Once you get passed that, it’s more of a collaboration coming in and making sure you’re bringing all the stakeholders to the table in the academic environment, and making sure that everybody has the understanding of what needs to be done in achieving a goal and moving forward,” Freeman said.
IT’s performance will be measured to ensure a consistent level of service, Freeman said.
“We’re measuring so that we can (see) how long, when a request comes in, how long it takes us — (this is) to be able to paint that picture, to measure ourselves and be transparent,” Freeman said. “That’s the other piece, is being transparent to the entire university. We’re measuring ourselves, we’re showing our data so there’s nothing to hide.”
From August 2011 to the end of the 2011 year, IT has worked on improving the campus Internet access and bandwidth. Freeman said Webster has upgraded its services with Charter, increasing from 50 MB to 150 MB for more access. The upgrades came, in part, because of the addition of the East Academic Building and the increased student usage of Internet-accessible devices on campus. Freeman said a student commonly uses a smart phone, tablet and laptop or other device like an Xbox, that may require Internet access.
“We realize that in a couple years, three (devices) may become four or may become a larger device that requires more bandwidth access,” Freeman said. “So, we’re trying to see what those trends are and make sure we have the infrastructure in place in order to handle that.”
Freeman said he and IT have worked to improve communication with the extended and international campuses.
“The global-wide area network redesign will take those three segmented networks, for the most part, and turn it into one homogeneous network that we can all use to the best of the abilities, not only domestically, but internationally and, then, as the university looks to add on additional campuses,” Freeman said.
Madeleine Gervais, director of the San Diego Metropolitan Campus, said she was impressed with Freeman’s presentation at the worldwide directors meeting in September because of his inclusion of the extended campuses.
“He’s well aware that the extended campuses have problems with the slowness of the servers and wanted to correct that,” Gervais said. “He wants to make sure all of Webster IT serve everyone well. (The extended campuses) seemed to be as important to him as other parts of the job.”
During his open interview with students, staff and faculty on Feb. 1, Freeman said he would like to integrate student retention technology, e-portfolios and cloud computing at Webster. Student retention technology, Freeman said, would not only attract potential students with the correct technology but also keep students at Webster. Freeman’s suggestion of e-portfolios would allow students to submit all work in one file rather than turning in hard copies or through a series of emails.
Cloud computing, Freeman said on Feb. 1, would organize information easily. Currently, Webster is involved in 20 cloud connections. Admissions’ new enrollment and recruitment tool, and the operating system for the new Wesbter.edu web design, will also be hosted on a cloud. Freeman said IT will only host on clouds when it is beneficial.
“Where it is necessary and makes sense is where we’ll use cloud computing,” Freeman said. “Where is the university going to get the best value for the amount of dollars they’re spending?”
Freeman said he hopes to have a long relationship with Webster and hopes to earn a Ph.D. in the future.
“There’s a lot to do before I entertain that thought,” Freeman said.
Freeman earned his B.A. in business management from Herbert H. Lehman College and M.A. in telecommunications from New York University. Freeman worked in IT management at businesses such as IBM, UPS, Bank of America, Cigna Corp. and Monsanto for nearly 30 years.