Pitt Strategy for Tech-Support Centers Recognized by University Business Magazine

Issue Date: 
April 7, 2014

The University of Pittsburgh is one of eight colleges and universities nationwide honored by University Business magazine’s “Models of Efficiency” recognition program. The honor stems from Pitt’s placement of walk-in technology support centers in the University Store on Fifth and in Litchfield Towers—a move that more than doubled the number of students served by the University’s Computing Services and Systems Development.

“As the expression goes, it’s all about the location, and for the University of Pittsburgh, the location of its tech support center made all the difference in its ability to service students,” said Tim Goral, senior editor of University Business.

Despite its round-the-clock Help Desk and in-person technical consulting, Pitt’s Computing Services and Systems Development believed its services were underutilized by the Oakland campus’ 28,000 students. Although walk-in consulting was available at some campus locations, appointments were required for service but not always available on the same day—students also had to remain with their hardware while it was being serviced.

“Our campus is spread out,” noted Pitt Chief Information Officer Jinx Walton. “Although we offered services in several locations on campus, students reported that getting to these spots was not always convenient.”

A renovation and expansion of the campus bookstore allowed Pitt to rethink how it provided tech support to students. “The typical bookstore is really going away,” says Eli Shorak, Pitt’s associate vice chancellor for business. “The methods that both professors and students are using to teach and to study are different. As we were designing what we wanted in our bookstore, we knew we wanted a technology presence. That was important.”

The new University Store on Fifth houses a walk-in technology support location where students, faculty, and staff can receive a variety of technical services without an appointment. Computing Services and Systems Development staff are on hand to help with connecting devices to the campus wireless network, configuring smartphones for Pitt email, distributing and installing software, and more. Hardware repair is also offered, and students do not need to stay with their equipment while it is being serviced. A similar support area was set up in the shared lobby of the Litchfield Towers residence halls, the largest housing complex on campus. Students have taken advantage of the improved convenience. After the centers opened in fall 2013, Computing Services and Systems Development provided support to 4,452 students, nearly double the number it supported in fall 2012 and more than it assisted during the entire 2012-13 academic year.