University of Alaska Southeast

About

The University of Alaska Southeast is a regional university in the University of Alaska system.  A product of the merger of Juneau–Douglas Community College and Southeastern Senior College in 1980, and a restructuring in 1987 to its current form, UAS’ main campus is located in Juneau, Alaska’s capital city.  While the university also houses extended campuses in Sitka and Ketchikan, the University of Alaska Southeast’s Juneau campus, in clear view of the world famous Mendenhall Glacier, is the center for baccalaureate and graduate education for the region.  UAS’ Information Technology Service’s website staff consists of one web developer, one web designer, and one graphic designer.  The staff houses Cascade CMS on one server, and publishes to two web servers for replication.

Challenge

The University of Alaska Southeast’s inclusion in the University of Alaska system’s statewide portal called for a new need to supply fresh, interesting content to the portal channels on a consistent basis.  The various web contributors, including faculty and students, didn’t look too kindly upon on having to create content in yet another format. 

The Information Technology Services’ webmaster faced a constant deluge of requests for updates, and the websites of the extended campuses lacked the consistent branding and features of UAS’ primary site.  From an information architecture standpoint, the arrangement was a tangled knot of conflicting information managed in multiple locations by frequently-changing personnel, many of whom needed in-depth training.  The need for a powerful yet easy-to-maintain content management system was tremendously evident.

Solution

In beginning their search for a CMS, John French, the coordinator for UAS’ faculty and staff web system, noted that the Information Technology Services department had three primary criteria.  The content management system of their choosing must be able to:
  • Eliminate content redundancy
  • House all content on one server
  • Repurpose content to many locations and in many formats
After a thorough and exhaustive 3 months, the CMS search team concluded that Cascade CMS best fulfilled its needs.  French says, “With its ability to use XML, repurpose content, index folders, create content out of metadata, and publish ‘cooked’ pages in straight HTML, Cascade was clearly the right choice for us.

Results

Since implementing Cascade CMS and migrating all of their previously widespread content to one server, the University of Alaska Southeast has achieved a cohesive look and feel for their regional website, which includes information for prospective students, current students, faculty, and staff of all three campuses.  Cascade has provided the UAS Information Technology Services’ web team with a great deal of control of the HTML structure of their pages, while also empowering their various content providers to create, update, and even manage their own content.  Academic departments can now post notices and announce events on their sites easily, and distribution of newsletters can now take place without even creating a PDF.  Events from any source are published to multiple locations whenever entered into the CMS, and college-wide academic requirements that reside in one folder set are published to multiple locations.

Another particularly important benefit has been time savings.  The site’s webmaster is no longer burdened with the smallest of content updates, and is free to work on improving the overall appeal and operation of UAS’ web presence.  Portal content automatically updates everything, every day, from student profiles and campus events to departmental notices and registration guidelines.  UAS has even garnered attention and kudos for their robust campus content from IT administrators at other schools in the University of Alaska system.

In the near future, UAS plans to roll out regional templates for each campus, which will improve accessibility and compliance and inspire content contributors to tailor their content to the university’s comprehensive marketing strategy.  Cascade CMS has provided the University of Alaska Southeast with the means to transform their website from a disorganized tangle of content into a centralized, easy to manage, and even easier to use web presence.

Visit

http://www.uas.alaska.edu/

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