University Honored with Governor’s Technology Awards

Posted: October 8, 2003 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Robin Herron and Fran Rensbarger

George Mason, through its participation in two different state organizations, swept the higher education award category in the 2003 Governor’s Technology Awards presented at the Commonwealth of Virginia Information Technology Symposium in Roanoke last month.

In the Government Service Awards–Higher Education category the Virtual Library of Virginia (VIVA) won the gold award. VIVA is the consortium of academic libraries serving all 39 public and 30 of the private nonprofit colleges and universities in the state, including the two-year schools, as well as the Library of Virginia. It provides enhanced access to library and information resources for the higher education community. VIVA’s central office is located at Mason.

In the same award category, the silver honor went to the Virginia Alliance for Secure Computing and Networking (VA SCAN), a voluntary consortium that includes participants from George Mason, James Madison University, University of Virginia, and Virginia Tech. Cathy Hubbs, IT security coordinator, and Sushil Jajodia, director of Mason’s Center for Secure Information Systems, serve on VA SCAN.

George Mason’s Kathy Perry has been VIVA director since its inception 10 years ago, and other librarians are also involved: John Zenelis, director of the University Libraries, is on the steering committee; John Walsh, associate university librarian, serves on the VIVA resources for users committee; Ruth Kifer, associate university librarian, serves on the resource sharing committee; and John Euliano, head of interlibrary loan, serves on the interlibrary loan subcommittee.

Because VIVA resources are integrated into the Mason libraries’ other electronic resources, most users are unaware that VIVA is part of them. Through the Internet, users at one institution can obtain copies of essential research material from other colleges or universities almost immediately, at far higher quality than fax and at less cost than commercial providers. VIVA saves nearly $900,000 annually in interlibrary loan expenditures.

While the central office for VIVA is at Mason, VIVA is decentralized, with functions shared by other colleges and universities across the state. More than 96 percent of VIVA’s annual budget goes to direct services for members.

“The award honors VIVA as a whole,” says Perry, including the hundreds of librarians across the commonwealth. “VIVA’s work levels the playing field among these schools.”

“VIVA represents the single most important technological development in Virginia higher education in the past decade; moreover, we believe that VIVA is one of the most significant developments of any kind in Virginia government over this period,” says Carl Kelly, chairman of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, which oversees VIVA. “We are convinced that recognition of VIVA–for its innovation, its results, and its efficiency–is not only long overdue, but also very appropriate at this time, as it enters its 10th year of existence having recently surpassed $100 million in cost avoidance for the commonwealth.”

VA SCAN is a collaboration that has been providing security information and resources to other universities throughout the commonwealth since March 2003. These free benefits include “ask the expert” e-mail service, on-site consulting, a web-based security toolkit, self-assessment checklist, and information sharing meetings and workshops. A small amount of funding and web site hosting is provided by the Commonwealth Information Security Center based at James Madison.

According to Hubbs, VA SCAN was developed as a way to help institutions of higher education respond to the state’s IT security standards, issued in 2001, and a number of colleges and universities have already requested services or participated in meetings.

Hubbs is one of four representatives from the consortium who will present an overview of VA SCAN at the EDUCAUSE 2003 Annual Conference in November.

Click here for more information on VIVA. For more information on VA SCAN, click here.

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