In the summer of 2004 University President Robert Maxson was endorsing the use of the University-wide implementation of the Administrative Template, which had been designed by Jorge Hurtado for the CSULB Division of Administration and Finance web site. Doug Cox, then University Web Master, was given the task of communicating and enforcing the wishes of President Maxson. Because the Administrative Template had a very "corporate" look to it he knew there would be significant push-back from many quarters.
To his credit, President Maxson was trying to fix a long-standing problem with the web at CSULB: There was little common identity among University web sites and some didn't have any identification with CSULB on them at all. Our webscape was a mess and he wanted it cleaned up. A good idea with which Doug agreed wholeheartedly, but he also knew that the Administrative Template would not be suitable for everyone. An alternative was needed that would satisfy Maxson while getting "buy-in" from the majority of the University. To this end, Doug decided to form a large consortium of every University web person he could find and see if we could formulate a template of our own. Doug had a way of getting folks to work together and, though there were at times plenty of competing perspectives, all present understood our mission and were very positive so that by the end of the summer the Academic Template was presented to and approved by President Maxson at the end of that summer.
Since that time WebComm has been known as an organization on campus, yet it is not typical in several ways. First, it is not really a committee. WebComm has never authored a report, something for which committees are known, and it has no charter or particular root in any office of the University. WebComm has a chair and even has subcommittees, yet the chair really only exists in order to maintain the email list, call periodic meetings, and keep watch for hot items of interest to the community. The subcommittees were formed when it looked like the University was considering web content management systems, a hot topic indeed in the the campus web community. But the mortgage crisis hit and funding for that project has disappeared for the time being, so we wait.
That brings us to the present. A WCMS is still a hot topic, and several web masters around campus are using or experimenting with different systems. We'll see what happens when the University-sponsored WCMS comes up again. In the next month or two WebComm will meet for a series of accessibility awareness sessions to try to keep everyone abreast of current developments and practices in that important area. Stay tuned!
—Pat Mullen, WebComm Chair
February 18, 2010