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myMemphis portal opens: One source access to University information

“Portal" comes from the Latin "porta", which means doorway, gate, or gateway -- especially a large and imposing one. In the computer age, a portal is an Internet site providing entry to a broad array of resources, services, and information links -- a large and user-friendly one now available to the University of Memphis community is myMemphis.

The new myMemphis portal, that opened the week of August 8, 2005, is the door to a personalized page that puts the user one or two clicks away from most of the U of M information and applications that particular person needs. No more logging in here and there. No more banging on computer doors in search of information that should be right at a person's fingertips.

Once through the portal a user will have access to such things as:

  • University announcements such as special events notifications and inclement weather closings
  • E-mail and personal calendar
  • Search for people or websites
  • Sticky Notes - a computerized notes-to-self or to-do list
  • Personalized bookmarks to favorite web sites

U of M faculty, students and staff can open the portal at http://my.memphis.edu/, or by clicking on the myMemphis logo on the U of M website (http://www.memphis.edu). This will put the user on the threshold of a new experience in University information access and control. Log in, and the portal opens: the system identifies the user and puts on the screen channels with information that particular individual uses. A university researcher, for example, can view the money remaining on a research grant account. Students can see a summary of the classes they are taking in the current semester. Since myMemphis is being phased in over three years, some portal channels can not be activated until the underlying administrative system is fully implemented. For example, the financial system channels are active now, but human resources channels will only become available when the HR system goes “live" in January 2006. When fully activated in 2007, myMemphis will make the U of M a more efficient workplace by combining all the University's databases – SIS, FRS, ADS, HRS and others – into one centralized database. The myMemphis portal will allow authorized users with a single access point to all of the University resources.

An online survey of faculty and staff conducted in late spring and into the summer provided valuable feedback from about 900 responders. The survey results and comments played a significant role in the portal implementation plan said Joe Matesich, University Web Site Manager in the Information Technology Division and co-leader of the myMemphis Portal Team. Many of the suggestions were included in the portal content and design, Matesich said. “The portal survey indicated our staff/faculty have an interest in using the myMemphis portal to access timely information such as campus news and events, University announcements, and the Memphis weather. They want to use the portal to easily link to campus resources such as the undergraduate/graduate catalogs, U of M search engine, and A-Z list of campus websites."

Survey respondents indicated that they were interested in myMemphis portal features that will allow them to store and retrieve information from anywhere they access the Internet. They wanted to use the "Sticky Note" channel as a place to save "To Do" lists and reminders, and "Bookmark" channels to organize favorite and important web page links – so that's what the portal designers gave them.

The myMemphis portal will also provide single sign-on (SSO) access to a number of web-based applications that would otherwise require the person to type in a username/password each time they are used. For example, faculty will be able to access the Provost office's curriculum vitae application directly from myMemphis. The survey indicated that staff/faculty are interested in using the portal for access to email, calendar, "Employee Self Service", and UMdrive, and SSO access will be enabled as soon as possible.

The myMemphis portal includes Group Studio, a utility that enables individuals to create and manage special interest group collaboration areas. Group Studio provides useful features such a discussion board, photo gallery, announcement area, and file repository.

The myMemphis student system will not be fully active until early in 2007, but the current myMemphis portal provides a number of channels that will be of interest to students including news channels, a personal calendar, Helmsman headlines, and quick access to information on from the Bursar and Registrar offices. In the fall, students will be surveyed to determine what they'd like to see included in the portal, and those responses will be factored in as the myMemphis portal continues to develop and expand.

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