By Denise Dick
Cutting down on reams of paper and costly copying costs — there’s an app for that.
About a year ago, Youngs-town State University trustees started using iPads to replace the stacks of paper that accompanied every board and committee meeting.
“It’s very specific to the meetings, but there’s lots of supporting documents,” said Michael Hrishenko, interim executive director of technology services. “It’s a way to communicate with the board in a timely way and is more user-friendly than a 4- to 6-inch stack of paper.”
The costs of making all of those copies add up. Plus, using iPads instead of paper is better for the environment.
With the money being saved on copies, Hrishenko said the university estimates the iPads will have paid for themselves in two years.
The devices were purchased for trustees and department heads.
“I use it for all kinds of things,” said Jack Fahey, vice president for student affairs. “It allows me to pick up my email and communicate with my folks remotely.”
He said that at this point, the university doesn’t have an overarching paperless plan, but as YSU continues to look at ways to save money, that may be an option.
Several other areas of the university including financial aid and admission are done electronically as well.
Hrishenko said that since board members received the devices, the university has been trying to refine the process. Initially, the information had to be loaded onto each iPad; now it’s loaded onto a storage site where trustees can go and access it.
“We’ve been trying to determine what’s working well, what’s not flowing as well and tweaking it,” he said.
Dr. Sudershan Garg, YSU trustees chairman, said he’s still getting accustomed to the iPad and sometimes finds it easier to use paper instead.
“It probably is good in many respects, but it’s not good for everybody,” he said. “While I’m trying to learn stuff, I’ve requested stuff on paper and in the iPad. I can read a sheet of paper in front of me in one minute. It takes me two to three minutes on the iPad.”
Still, Dr. Garg said he’s not opposed to using the technology. He just needs to get used to it.
For the most part, board members have embraced the change, Hrishenko said.
“I’ve been involved in IT for 20 years at YSU,” he said. “I was excited and enthused for the reaction to this. It’s been a very receptive audience. They bought into the concept that they could get more information in a more timely manner.”