Outdated technology at Colorado State University-Pueblo has been a topic of conversation on campus for the last few years. The cost of upgrading the Internet and other important systems has been estimated in the millions, and there has been little movement toward funding or a resolution.
On Jan. 23, a delegation from CSU-Pueblo made the trip to Denver to present a proposal to a technology joint committee from the Colorado State Legislature. The group included President Lesley Di Mare, Director of Facilities Management Craig Cason, Vice President for Finance and Administration Karl Spiecker, Gary Perkins from information technology and Associated Students’ Government Vice President Mario Ruiz.
Ruiz said the presentation was very formal and seemed to be well received by the members of the committee, which consisted of different elected officials who deal with IT funding for organizations across the state.
“When people ask for money, they have to show how it makes sense,” Ruiz said. “The president gave an overview from her perspective, speaking for the university as a whole. IT gave an in-depth report of what we need. Then I came in as a student and told them my experiences, always keeping in mind the best interests of the student population.”
Ruiz said the committee members asked him several questions, and to appeal to both political parties represented, he had to approach the subject from an emotional side as well as a business side. He explained that to remain competitive, not only locally, but on a national level, “we need to stay up-to-date, and in this case it happens to be our IT infrastructure and our Wi-Fi.”
He used examples of issues that he has personally dealt with as a student.
“One was the example of Blackboard during finals week. Many students encounter issues trying to submit papers that are due by a certain date. If Blackboard is down, you can’t submit it, so what do you do? Relying on technology during finals can be a double-edged sword. It’s really good time-wise, and then it’s really bad when we rely so much on technology and the system crashes,” Ruiz said.
He pointed out that it also affects the grading systems, payroll and financial aid, and he emphasized how important upgraded technology will be for the future of the university.
After presenting the specific needs at CSU-Pueblo, the delegation asked for $1.8 million toward technology upgrades. Although the complete cost of upgrades will be twice that amount, if granted, the $1.8 million will be a significant boost for IT on campus.
And according to Ruiz, who is a self-titled optimist, the joint committee should have a decision in the next few months. The plan going forward is to utilize the initial grant and then return to the joint committee next year to request the additional funding.
“We presented very well,” Ruiz said. “We presented the facts, and it went really well. The co-chairman asked me, ‘So, I’m a business person, and if I had to put my money somewhere, if I invest my money, what’s in it for me?’ So I said to him, ‘This would be an investment in Colorado.’”