The university’s IT department rolls out Dropbox Education to help faculty better collaborate in a more secure way, leading to increases in productivity and cost savings.
Chapman University was founded on March 4, 1861 — the same day President Abraham Lincoln was sworn in to his first term. This was no coincidence: hours after Lincoln’s address, the Los Angeles area school opened its doors to students of any race or gender — a radical act at the time. Over 150 years later, Chapman has retained its progressive approach to many areas. “It’s in our genes to push the envelope, and we apply that to the way we think about technology,” says Armando Diaz, Technical Services Engineer. That’s why faculty members knew there was a better way to collaborate on research and coursework than exchanging CDs and USB drives. “You’d send it through intercampus mail or walk it over to somebody’s office,” says Diaz. “It wasn’t a great use of time.” Many turned to Dropbox personal accounts to quickly share documents, and IT soon took notice. “Because so many faculty were already using Dropbox, we knew we could then secure that environment with Dropbox Education,” says Helen Norris, Chief Information Officer. “Of all the options we reviewed, it was the most flexible and easy to use.”
“Because so many faculty were already using Dropbox, we knew we could then secure that environment with Dropbox Education. Of all the options we reviewed, it was the most flexible and easy to use.”
Chapman rolled out Dropbox Education by setting up a web portal where users could sign up on their own. “We wanted to measure the product’s true adoption rate, instead of forcing people to join,” says Paul Kang, Assistant Director, Infrastructure. Just a week after the portal went live, the team grew to over 300 users, representing nearly a third of Chapman’s entire faculty and staff. Kang says the university’s adoption rate of a previous solution was only 20% after four years. “We achieved a higher mark with Dropbox Education in seven days,” he says. “And people didn’t just sign up — they became active users. It was a great success.”
To encourage collaboration on research, professors now record their lectures and place them in Dropbox shared folders. Faculty can access them whether they’re across campus or across the globe. Every day, the pharmacy department alone uploads eight hours of lectures from five classes to Dropbox. One professor in the department uses a shared folder as a collective workspace for research partners in Brazil, Egypt, and South Africa. “I can review lab reports, publications, grant applications,” says Dr. Ayman Noreddin, Professor of Pharmacy andAssociate Dean of Academic Affairs. “Anything related to my research lives in Dropbox because files are so easy to find and share.”
Faculty members appreciate that Dropbox also allows them to work securely on any device in Chapman’s mixed platform environment. “Whether it’s PC, Mac, iOS, or Android, data is available anywhere,” says Kang. “That’s one of Dropbox’s strengths.” As the solution’s adoption has spread further across Chapman, the Admin Console allows the IT department to track all the new user accounts and connected devices. “The dashboard is fantastic — we can see any usage that may be out of the norm,” says Kang. “And with Dropbox’s encryption and compliance standards, we feel very safe putting our important files on the platform.”
“Our adoption rate on our prior solution was 20% after four years. We achieved a higher mark with Dropbox Education in seven days.”
Dropbox Education has made work on campus easier for Chapman’s IT team as well as the university’s faculty and researchers. “I used to manage email servers, and the time and costs were significant,” Kang says. “Because of Dropbox Education, people are using email far less. It’s a huge cost savings for us, with less headache.” University officials say the solution’s ease of use means they’re getting less support requests from users. “There’s no real training necessary with Dropbox,” says Ramiro Landeros, Web Manager. “People figure it out on their own, which saves a lot of time and resources.”For Chapman researchers, Dropbox Education has had another positive effect: it’s growing their network of colleagues. “It makes my work so much more organized,” Noreddin says. “I’m more focused and productive, and I’ve seen the difference from my colleagues too. We share ideas much more easily, and that makes our research that much better.”