University computer systems are in dire need of an upgrade, said President Elson S. Floyd during his second in a series of open forums for faculty and staff held Tuesday evening.
“Our current … legacy… system won’t sustain us for the long run, and we know we have to make significant improvements soon,” he said.
Speaking on a rainy night to a crowd of about 30 faculty, staff and administrators, Floyd also fielded questions on the search for a new Human Resource Services (HRS) director, funding for the Palouse Ridge golf course, creation of a sexual assault course and how humanities publications fit in with criteria to become an AAU school.
 

(To hear an audio clip of President Floyd talking about the hiring of a new HRS director and
plans to renovate the WSU IT system, click here.)
Floyd said WSU is asking the state legislature for $1 million for a feasibility study of the existing computer system in the supplemental budget request.
 
Research is under way to determine the costs and logistics of implementing the National LambdaRail system — a fiber optic communication network offering ultra-high bandwidth and capacity. It is owned and operated by higher education institutions for research, education and economic development purposes.
The University of Idaho, as well as the regional campuses in Spokane and Tri-Cities, are collaborating on the LambdaRail project, and Floyd said they will all see an increase in bandwidth.
“We are having a little more trouble getting Vancouver into the mix — it’s a challenge. We’ll have to see where it will go,” said Floyd.
Viji Murali, vice president for Information Services and chief information officer, said that once they have the bandwidth in place, she hopes to introduce supercomputers — the fastest and most powerful computers available — to the Pullman campus. She is seeking funding for the proposal.
 
On other topics:
* Concerning the hiring of a new HRS director, Floyd said WSU is looking at the overall organizational structure and trying to identify all of the components associated with the position.
“Right now, pieces of the position are dispersed across the university,” he said. “We will develop a position description and hope to begin the recruitment process by the first of November.”
* Floyd said roughly $1.2 million has been raised of the $8 million needed to finish the Palouse Ridge golf course. He said WSU will continue using current funds to develop the course but is “redoubling our efforts” at private fundraising to pay off debts as those gifts come in.
* When asked how humanities publications programs fit into the criteria for becoming an AAU school, Provost Bob Bates said that “hosting journals can bring prestige to a university.” Floyd added that “journals are good for intellectual exchange … and that the core of a university is freedom of expression.”
* Floyd also addressed the formation of a sexual assault class through the Student Recreation Center and said it will require an initial investment of approximately $20,000. The class would be voluntary and is expected to be in place by fall 2008.
To view Floyd’s 35-minute forum on videostream, see ONLINE @ www.experience.wsu.edu.