'5-Dial' System Wins National Award

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

Boston College's use of information technology in student services has again earned recognition from CAUSE, the association for managing and using information resources in higher education.

At the association's annual conference last month in San Francisco, the University received the 1996 CAUSE Award for Best Practices in Applications for its development of a telephone service self-activation system called "5-DIAL." The system, introduced in the fall of 1995, enables residence hall students to activate their own telephones for faster and more efficient service.

The award was presented to members of the Information Technology division who created 5-DIAL: Management Information Systems Assistant Director David McCormack, MIS Programmer Analyst Elizabeth Dority, and Systems Services programmers Charles Diehl and John Leo McCarthy.

"This application reflects the approach we want to take at Boston College, both in the development of technology and how it is used within the University," said Associate Vice President for Information Technology Bernard Gleason. "5-DIAL offers BC a better way to provide service while reducing costs, and it also has a broad impact on large numbers of people."

"I see this award as more for Boston College than for any specific individual or department," McCormack said. "It is a recognition of our attention to customer service, and our commitment to bring that service to a higher level."

5-DIAL was created as part of the University's Agora project, which provides a comprehensive voice, data and cable television package to all undergraduate resident students. Upon enrollment, all students are assigned personal telephone numbers and voice-mail accounts for the length of their stay at Boston College. Students activate their own service by plugging their phone into a jack and dialing 5-DIAL (ext. 5-3425), then punching in their ID and PIN numbers.

Previously, the CAUSE citation noted, student telephones were generally limited to one per suite, and each had to be activated manually by a technician. Now, students not only retain their phone numbers when they relocate but can reactivate their service at their new campus residence without needing assistance.

"Another important thing about 5-DIAL is it enhances the scope of communication possible in the University community," McCormack pointed out. "Whereas the number of student phones might have numbered about 1,500 in the past, now you have 6,700 students who are accessible via phone or voice-mail. By assigning students phone and voice-mail service for their years at BC, 5-DIAL ensures continuity."

The award marks the second time in five years CAUSE has honored BC for its innovative use of information technology. In 1992, Gleason was selected for the CAUSE Exemplary Leadership and Information Training Excellence Award, which honors those who have made significant achievements in "enhancing the administration and delivery of higher education through the effective management and use of information technology."

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