Mobile Applications Case Study
Intelligent Messaging Solution is a Smart Choice for Saint Louis University (Cont'd)
The speed of texting is a great feature and we can spread the message through social media and all our digital signage. That’s something we didn’t have before.”
Kevin Proot, Manager of Networking and Telecommunications, Saint Louis University
Ability to communicate important information rapidly to campus communities
Mobile application delivers messages in an instant via email, phone, or text
Connect with students, faculty, and staff—quickly and easily
Saint Louis University (SLU) is a Catholic, Jesuit university ranked among the top research institutions in the nation. Just this year the university was awarded research contracts totaling more than $60 million from government, industry and private foundation sources. SLU fosters the intellectual and character development of nearly 9,000 undergrads, 4,000 graduate students and 1,700 professional students. Founded in 1818, it is the oldest university west of the Mississippi and the second oldest Jesuit university in the United States.
SLU is located in the heart of one of the largest cities in the Midwest. Ensuring that its campus is a thriving and aware community to live, learn and work is a top priority for university officials. Saint Louis University needed a fast, reliable and redundant way to communicate important information to its students, faculty and staff.
Rave Campus Messenger from AT&T helps support the university’s high volume communications needs. The solution lets SLU deliver content-rich communications via email, phone, or text messaging, enabling university officials to send important messages quickly to precisely defined audiences.
A Thriving Urban Campus
For nearly 200 years Saint Louis University has sought excellence in teaching, research, health care and community service. Kevin Proot, the university’s Manager of Networking and Telecommunications, believes the pursuit of holistic excellence is the key to SLU’s success. “We have thrived for so long because we are guided by a Jesuit tradition to educate the whole person: mind, body and spirit,” Proot said. “That’s what sets us apart.”
We are very committed to investing in the latest technology to enhance the overall educational experience for our students."
Kevin Proot, Manager of Networking and Telecommunications, Saint Louis University
Students and faculty are deeply committed to service and social justice, which further distinguishes the university from other schools. “We believe in treating people fairly and honestly,” said Connie Tillman, SLU Emergency Preparedness Coordinator. “It’s just who we are.” The University’s students, faculty and staff provide more than a million hours of service each year as they put their faith into action.
During the past two decades, SLU has invested vast resources to advance its academic programs and enhance the overall student experience. In the past three years, for instance, it launched more than two dozen new degree and certificate programs, added numerous faculty positions and increased funding for student support services and campus life initiatives.
SLU has also made more than $1 billion worth of improvements and expansions to beautify its urban campus in the heart of St. Louis. Many of these projects took place in and around Grand Center, a campus neighborhood that is home to a number of the city’s fine arts and entertainment venues. The university renovated a historic building into a boutique hotel that SLU President Rev. Lawrence Biondi called “another important investment” in the community. "Exciting developments are taking place in our Midtown St. Louis neighborhood, and this project will help sustain that momentum," he said.
Most recently the university announced plans to relocate its law school, along with 1,100 students, faculty and staff, into an 11-story building downtown, a move city officials expect will provide a boost to the area.
Investments Advance Education
Educating students and conducting top tier research require robust technology. “Our community demands technology. They expect it will be there to help the researchers get their job done,” Proot said, “and so we try to use it as a competitive advantage.”
Saint Louis University was among the first schools in the country to provide wireless Internet in every campus building. In addition, many of its classrooms already have the technology that lets professors record their lectures and post them easily to the Web, so students can review the material again whenever they wish.
The university is now in the midst of a multiyear effort to upgrade all classrooms to ensure that there are enough wireless access points for every student to access the Internet and enough electrical outlets to keep student devices in power. It is also deploying Voice over IP telephones campus-wide. “We are very committed to investing in the latest technology to enhance the overall educational experience for our students,” Proot said.
The university had instituted a system designed to communicate easily with the entire university community as well as subsets within it. However, the solution lacked one important feature – text messaging. “Today’s students have made it clear that texting is their preferred method of communication,” Tillman said. The university needed an intelligent messaging solution that would reach the largest possible number of students, faculty and staff.
A User-Friendly Interface
After comparing seven different messaging platforms, Saint Louis University chose Rave Campus Messenger from AT&T, which provides a simple, reliable way to connect with students, faculty, staff and administration. Messages can be sent via text, email and voice, so each member of the SLU community can choose to get information via his or her preferred medium.
Saint Louis made it mandatory for students to register for the campus notification system.” We’re one of the few schools that require our students to be registered in order to enroll in classes,” Tillman said. “We tell students at orientation that we will put a hold on their accounts until they verify their contact information.”
The platform’s user-friendly, one-touch interface makes it easy for officials to quickly create messages and get them to the right audience. So, far, reaction from the university community to has been overwhelmingly positive. For example, students in a campus focus group praised Campus Messenger, noting especially that they like being able to get text messages. “If you watch students changing classes, most of them don’t even talk to each other – they’ll walk through the quad, and every one of them will be either texting or talking on a cell phone,” Tillman said. “If you don’t meet students where they are, they won’t pay any attention to you.”
Sending text messages through Rave Campus Messenger is the best way to reach students, even when they’re in class. “Every professor advises students to turn off cell phones at the beginning of class, but most students just turn off the volume,” Tillman said. Now officials can still get important messages to them, even if they are in class.
Proot believes that Rave Campus Messenger is a great fit for Saint Louis University. “The speed of texting is a great feature and we can spread the message through social media and all our digital signage,” he said. That’s something we didn’t have before.” SLU is in the process of building lists so it can use Campus Messenger to communicate with subsets of the campus, such as residents of a particular residence hall or students with classes in a certain academic building.
The Next Generation of Technology
Saint Louis University has been an AT&T customer for decades, Proot said, thanks to the quality of AT&T services and the responsiveness of the university’s account team. “Our account manager knows the right people to pull in whenever we need something,” he said. “We have received great support.”
He predicts that the university will continue to work with AT&T as it upgrades its wireless networking and introduces high-performance computing for its researchers. “Additionally we already do a lot of videoconferencing but I see that expanding greatly.”
In the next few years Saint Louis University will begin its third century of educating the whole person, continuing the Jesuit tradition of scholarship and service. “We’re talking with AT&T about improving the performance of PCs for our faculty, staff and students,” Proot said, “and looking at the next generation of classroom technologies and being able to connect.”