Office of Information Technology committed to technical support and innovation

Office of Information Technology committed to technical support and innovation

Office of Information Technology committed to technical support and innovation


A member of the OIT team checking server functions.

A member of the OIT team checking server functions.


The Office of Information Technology (OIT) plays a crucial role at UDC. As the University’s central hub for IT resources, OIT strives to provide students, faculty and staff with the highest quality of IT infrastructure and support possible. Headed by Suresh Murugan, vice president of Information Technology/CIO Office of Information Technology and his 20-member team (eight positions are currently vacant), the Department supports and enables UDC’s efforts toward teaching, learning, and conquering the digital divide.

“I am excited to join the UDC Firebird family as we pursue building the University of the District of Columbia as a public higher education model of urban student success,” Suresh said.

“I am also looking forward to facilitating that journey by leading the charge toward digital transformation. Digital transformation in higher education is using digital technologies to refine and enhance students’ experiences by improving their interactions with instructional services, support teams and other critical areas of campus operations. Digital transformation is not limited to digitizing business processes and adding to the technology portfolio; it calls for new ways of learning and leading, fostering a culture shift, and aligning strategy, talent, and resources across the organization.”

One of the most critical missions of the Department is to help bolster enrollment, which helped the PHITDC project.

In September 2021, UDC was awarded $8.7 million from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to create a consortium aimed at identifying and educating individuals from underrepresented backgrounds in public health, informatics and data science over the next four years.

The D.C. consortium, titled PHIT4DC, is led by UDC and includes Howard University, among others. UDC will recruit at least 500 participants (over four years) and provide students with specialized within-degree training, certification training, or short-term fellowship training in Public Health Informatics Technology (PHIT) across multiple pathways (AA/AS, Bachelor, MPH, Pharmacy/Health Professional, and Post-graduate fellowships) along the education continuum.

The Department has been instrumental in the project. OIT configured a Banner electronic application to allow participants to apply electronically to the program. The team also provided end-user training to update and process these applications.

OIT continues the Banner communication management. Offices within the student area, including the Registrar’s Office, Financial Aid Office, Admissions Office, Student Accounts, and Work Force Development, send numerous communications to students regularly. These communications, however, until recently were very manual. They were managed by individual users compiling lists in Excel spreadsheets and merging this data into Outlook emails. This process is time-consuming, prone to error, and requires tracking potentially sensitive data outside Banner.

“The OIT unit at the University has been very instrumental in the implementation of all SDS student service platforms,” said Dr. William Latham, chief Student Development Success officer. “These platforms have been utilized to develop a national recognized student success model at UDC,” he added.

The Department configured the Banner Communications Management (BCM) module, which permits targeted, personalized communications to all Banner constituents that can be automated on a scheduled basis in the form of email, printed letters, text messages, or mobile notifications. OIT also trained end-users to be able to manage most of the BCM functionality on their own.

The team has also seen enormous success as a liaison to Banner integration and Banner Self-Service upgrades.

Due to COVID-19, OIT has faced several challenges. Due to the pandemic’s lasting impact, the team’s primary objectives included ensuring that the University could leverage its technological investments to bolster enrollment and reduce attrition. They also aimed to provide seamless hybrid and on-campus experiences as a subset of staff, faculty and students returned to campus, ensuring a secure computing environment.

OIT’s Database Administrator, Angela Wade, acknowledged that to be successful, students need seamless access to campus resources and services. “We can create a student-centered learning environment that provides many information and learning opportunities through technology-friendly services.”

“Today’s technologies offer the capability to integrate systems in a secure, private and accessible way. Integrated systems also offer access to the data needed by academic leaders to make informed decisions about how to better support students in a personalized way. Investing in technology systems and talent that support students’ seamless access to resources when and where desired can improve the ability to attract, motivate and retain students and help students earn desired credentials more efficiently and affordably. Coupling technology with quality teaching staff can thus enhance a student’s academic success,” said Wade.

COVID-19 meant that the capability for virtual learning became mandatory. OIT has been integrating systems that allow instructors and students to leverage WebEx features and capabilities without downloading the WebEx app. Instructors can schedule and start meetings within the Blackboard learn interface, while students can join meetings and view previously recorded sessions. As virtual learning and meetings increased, the hardware supporting these modalities was critical to be readily available and functional.

Another important and ongoing project for OIT is security, which remains critical to the Department. Data availability, confidentiality and integrity contribute to a secure environment for the UDC community. OIT works hard to ensure that UDC’s computing environment is secure.

With several more ongoing projects, OIT plays a vital and integral part in the University. Associate Vice President of OIT Stephen Byam also noted the importance of leadership.

“We within OIT leadership are charged as change agents for digitally transforming our organization. A successful digital transformation begins with a compelling leadership vision that presents a picture of the future and explains why members of an organization should strive to create that future. To achieve sustainable gains and position the organization to meet future demands for change, leaders need to support a learning environment where projects can be converted into organizational competencies.” Byam said.