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Website raises faculty concerns

Debates surrounds who should control ULV’s image.

Natalie Veissalov
LV Life Editor

The redesigned and revamped University of La Verne website has stirred up complaints among numerous faculty members since its launch last summer.

The school’s marketing department uses the University’s website both as an informational and marketing tool, said Fred Chyr, chief marketing officer, said. The goal is to make the front page as clean as possible, he said.

“I’ve heard numerous concerns by faculty regarding the current model,” said Kenneth Marcus, associate professor of history and member of the Faculty Senate. “It’s been difficult to communicate with the committee (that was set up to work on the new website).

One issue that brought faculty concerns to the fore had to do with the counseling center.

“There was psychological crisis with a ULV student,” said Rick Rogers, director of the counseling center.

“The faculty member helping the student could not find the counseling center Web page and the emergency extension for the psychological emergencies.”

Rogers realized how long it took to get to the counseling center web page when he was trying to find it during an orientation meeting for new students.

It took three clicks to get to the Web page, he said.

When he brought this up to the marketing department, suggesting they move the counseling center link to the front page, they would not change it, Rogers said.

But when they found out about the emergency situation this semester, the marketing department fixed it and listed it under the resources and services link on the front page.

Still many faculty members are still frustrated because they have been having a hard time putting things on their department Web pages, Marcus said.

There is not an e-mail address or phone number for them to call for help when they have a problem with their Web pages, Marcus said.

There has also been a lack of communication between the faculty and the University’s marketing department, he said.

It becomes difficult to get the faculty’s voice heard, Marcus said.

Chyr doesn’t see it that way.

“First of all when this site was built, it was built with a focus group of faculty and students,” Chyr said.

Many have also complained that it is difficult to find their department pages.

“Everyone wants to be on the front page,” Chyr said.

However, Charles Bentley, the University’s public relations director, said there is a site directory at the top of the front page where everything related to the University is two clicks away.

Chyr also said their primary focus is prospective students.

“We want to put things that make ULV look good,” Bentley said.

Also, graduate students make up more of the student population than undergraduates.

Graduate students are more interested with the programs, costs and other information pertinent to graduate students, Bentley said.

They are not really interested in the Campus Times, LeoFM or the athletic department. Therefore, the University must meet their needs, Bentley said.

Chyr said the most visited link on the website is the catalog.

People are looking for information, Chyr said. The new site is far superior than the site the University had before, Chyr said.

Marcus explained the power structure behind the website.

The first two levels include the marketing department and enrollment management, who have authority over what goes on front page of the university website.

The third level includes the faculty, who control their department Web pages.

Chyr said the marketing department does not want to hide anything.

He also said the department does not control the content that goes on the department pages.

Though Marcus also brought up the problem with the University calendar on the website. You have to dig and look for the other events, Marcus said. The website does not display all of the University’s events, Marcus said. He also said the that the University calendar with all the school’s events should be located at the top of the front Web page.

Marcus hopes a consistent Web page with a set of guidelines is created.

“Communication is vital,” Marcus said regarding the relationship between the marketing department and faculty. “There is a certain distance we need to bridge.”

“Who controls the website?” Marcus said. “It’s not just a marketing tool, but also an information tool.”

However, Marcus said the website has gradually been improved. “Some of these problems are growing pains, but there shouldn’t be communication issues” Marcus said.

The website needs to be coordinated better so it is more user friendly, Marcus said.

“Is it a perfect site? No,” Chyr said. “We know we have more work to do.”

However, the new website has had an impact on the University – more inquiries, interest, and the application rate is higher, Chyr said.

Marcus said the Faculty Senate is also taking steps to address these concerns. “There’s an opening for making change,” Marcus said.

Natalie Veissalov can be reached at natalie.veissalov@laverne.edu.

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