Take the iconic streetcar down St Charles Avenue to Loyola University New Orleans, and it’s hard not to admire the southern charm of the school’s picturesque campus and the verdant beauty of Audubon Park across the road. But location isn’t all Loyola has going for it. It’s a comprehensive university with nearly 4,300 students and an eye to the latest technological tools. Susan Brower, Media Services Coordinator of the school’s Monroe Library, manages the division that handles instructional technology in classrooms and throughout the library, web and video conferencing, media duplication, and equipment loans. Brower believes that the key to successfully collaborating in an ever-evolving industry is consistent, meaningful communication. Read more about Susan Brower’s perspective as a tech leader at a premier New Orleans university in this installment of AV Technology magazine's “Meet Your Manager.”
AVT Technology: How is AV/IT convergence playing out at Loyola?
Susan Brower: Media Services reports to the library, IT is a separate department; both report to the academic side of the university. Media Services oversees AV in classrooms and other services that are often handled by IT at other universities; IT oversees the network and computer labs. However, Media Services works closely with IT, which provides the budget for classroom technology and web conferencing. Importantly, I work closely with the CIO on these things. The library provides the budget for library classrooms, as well as our other services.
AVT Technology: What AV/IT problems have you solved recently?
Susan Brower: Well, one we’ve almost solved is IP control of classroom devices from the Media Services offices. We have it working in most of the classrooms where we need it.
AVT Technology: What AV/IT do you hope to buy in the near future? Why?
Susan Brower: Computers and peripherals, of course. We hope to move into some digital signage this year that runs over the network, and also buying software that will run on a PC computer but work with h.323 video conferencing.
AVT Technology: How do you procure/purchase your AV for in-house installs?
Susan Brower: We have a small staff, and so work with a third-party system integrator company for most of our AV installations. We also maintain a service contract with them.
AVT Technology: Where are technology manufacturers missing opportunities?
Susan Brower: I believe that the Holy Grail in AV these days is a device that enables wireless video and audio display from any mobile device, regardless of platform or OS. Many companies are working on it, but it’s not fully there, yet.
AVT Technology: What is the biggest obstacle to collaboration?
Susan Brower: The biggest obstacle to collaboration is poor communication. We need to talk to each other, and write it down, and get all the facts sorted out and understood. Once we know the truth of the matter at hand, we can solve any problems, or, at least, come to an agreement about workable approaches.