Patrick Ackerman Director of Web Services
Part of Baruch’s Strategic Plan mission is to “create and implement an IT plan that examines technology needs across the College and addresses them programmatically,” as well as engage senior IT staff in academic and administrative planning. As director of web services, within the Baruch Computing and Technology Center, Patrick Ackerman is deeply involved on both fronts.
When Ackerman came to Baruch over a decade ago as web coordinator, “The question then was how does the web work and what do we use it for?,” he recalls. Obviously, the online environment has since evolved drastically.
He remembers becoming aware of the World Wide Web during his senior year as a graphic design/fine arts major at Rowan University in New Jersey. He subsequently became more familiar with the Internet while employed with a group that created instructional technology at the University of Maine. Ackerman returned to Rowan to work on redesigning the college’s website, while teaching graphic design and web design as an adjunct professor at Cumberland Community College. Two years later, he came to New York to work at Long Island University; soon after, he accepted the position as web coordinator at Baruch.
At the time, anything to do with the Internet was the responsibility of Baruch’s IT office (BCTC). “Across institutions, it usually gets housed in either IT or marketing,” says Ackerman. “In reality it has to be both.” He worked with both BCTC and the Office of Communications, Marketing & Public Affairs on a comprehensive website redesign that included honing the homepage and simplifying navigation.
Since then, he’s been involved with several major initiatives, including Baruch’s new space reservation system, for which he won the Vice Chancellor's Productivity Award from CUNY. Though the Registrar’s office handles classroom space, there was a need for managing space used for other purposes. Under the new Space Reservation Policy, “We want to insure that space is being used appropriately, charge-back is being done equitably with uniform rates, and that the decision to use a space is affirmed by a dean or VP,” says Ackerman. To support this initiative the College’s existing calendar management software was extended using a new facilities module; and initial training began in June with full roll-out to be completed during the beginning of this year.
One of his main goals for this year will be in support of the CUNY First Campus Solutions rollout, occurring in late March. “It will require changes to current services and may spawn need for services we’re not currently running,” he notes.
Another big goal is optimizing the Baruch website for mobile devices. “People are using their smartphones as their primary device,” he says. “There’s an approach called responsive web design, where the design resizes to fit device interface. CUNY.edu has already been redesigned this way.”
He’s also working on advancing the new CUNY Pathways system of requirements and transfer guidelines. Says Ackerman, “We realized we could use KACE, our helpdesk ticketing system, to help manage the workflow across the various offices responsible for the student Opt-In process.”
Yet another project that Ackerman is involved with is the digitization of Baruch’s Undergraduate and Graduate Course Bulletins. With his help, the Graduate Bulletin has been completely digital since early 2013. As a result, “We can update more often, so it’s more current and it’s archived,” he says. The much larger Undergraduate Bulletin is now in the process of being fully digitized as well.
Ackerman and his department have a hand in just about every major college initiative, including “building infrastructure, network access via wired or WiFi, servers to support existing and new services, power back-up and fire suppression systems planning. As he says, “Not to overstate it, but IT is a service that touches almost everything at the college. In one way or another, we’re always involved.”