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Academic Systems Steering Committee

This committee reviews and approves proposed projects regarding Blackboard features and functionality. Committee members bring feedback from their departments and schools to assist KU IT in determining priorities for requested development.

Purpose of the Academic Systems Steering Committee

The Steering Committee has the following purpose:

  • Ensures strategic alignment of KU’s learning management system with campus needs, and provides information to KU IT about how Blackboard is being used on campus. Establishes a repeatable process to gather, evaluate and prioritize requests for features and functionality in Blackboard. Evaluation criteria are based on impact to students and instructors, as well as potential legal, technical, FERPA and disability access issues.
  • Sets the tone for the service, Blackboard. Often requestors and sponsors see their projects as the highest priority and will contact the service support staff to expedite or influence project prioritization. It is the purpose of the Steering Committee to rise above this competition and make sure units cooperate in completing the shared vision and goals of the University.
  • Gives “authority” to matrix management. In multi-unit projects, there are rarely direct lines of authority between cooperating entities. It is the role of the Steering Committee to ensure the means and mechanisms are in place to get things done.
  • Represents stakeholders that do not directly sit on the Steering Committee. A Steering Committee can only have a limited number of members. It is the job of the Steering Committee to represent those that do not have a direct representative in the governance structure.
  • Ensures equity in decision-making. The Steering Committee must make sure the project proposal meets the needs of as many participants as possible. This means it must fairly weigh all requests and act impartially to do the most good with the resources it has available.
  • The Steering Committee provides the forum for making sometimes difficult decisions for consideration by Technology Governance by recommending choices in handling political, legal, organizational, technical, cost, management, and cultural issues for the Blackboard service.

Committee Members


Betsy Six, Clinical Professor of Law


Name College/Department
Jordan Bass Education and Human Sciences
Laura Diede Center for Online and Distance Learning
Ann Ermey Lifelong & Professional Education
Joseph Chapes Information Technology
Brittany Melton Pharmacy
Mark Mort Biology
Maria Orive College Online, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Brad Osborn Music
David Petr Engineering
Brian Salmans Business
Marcia Schulmeister Edwards Campus
Hugo Sheward Architecture
Andrew Shoemaker Student Access Center, Writing Center
Samantha Bishop Simmons Libraries
Morgan Swartzlander Graduate Studies
Casey Wallace Registrar
Doug Ward Journalism and Center for Teaching Excellence

Committee Roles & Responsibilities

The Blackboard Steering Committee performs the following roles and fulfills these responsibilities:

All Steering Committee members:

  • Review and approve proposed projects and requests in relation to Blackboard configuration choices, functional option choices and changes in functionality, new features, and enhancements to Blackboard or Building Blocks, The Steering Committee is directly responsible for determining which proposed projects and requests will be implemented and what priority they will take in the overall plan for the delivery of new services. The Steering Committee will be responsible for communicating the approval/denial to the project requestor. KU IT staff are responsible for informing the Steering Committee what the requested scope will cost and how long it will take to deliver, and then managing project resources to deliver that scope within time and budget constraints.
  • Manage central funding. If central funding is requested, the Steering Committee is responsible for reviewing the proposal and benefits, and when there is a consensus to support the fund request, the Steering Committee will address it directly with the central funding authority. When central funding is available for new development or additional licensing, the Steering Committee is directly responsible for approving the cost management plan. KU IT staff are responsible for managing the costs and reporting the actual expenses to the Steering Committee.
  • Manage political issues and risks. The Steering Committee is responsible for managing and resolving political issues brought to them by the application analysts or project managers.
  • Act as ambassadors of the Blackboard service through outreach to other units and internal communications within their units, the Steering Committee members will be responsible for promoting the benefits of the service.
  • Resolve obstacles. The Steering Committee members are responsible for working together to resolve obstacles as they arise.

IT members on this Steering Committee perform the following roles and fulfill these responsibilities:

  • Project Management
    • Project schedules
    • Vendor interactions
  • Administrative Assistance
    • Scheduling meetings
    • Agendas, notes and minutes
    • Directing members to appropriate resources when they have questions
  • Application Analysis and Application Administration
    • (Educational Technologists and Video Technologists are a type of Application Analysts)
    • Identifies smaller projects for immediate attention
    • Performs project work
    • Vendor interactions

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