UB Profile System Provides User-Friendly Upgrades

Published August 19, 2021

story by dirk hoffman

The new UB Profile software system provides a number of user-friendly upgrades to the online faculty database for the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

“The greatest asset of UB Profile is its ability to be completely customizable to whatever audience is using it. ”
Mark N. Schneggenburger
Lead programmer/analyst in the Office of Medical Computing

Development of UB Profile began in 2015 as an intended replacement for the electronic Curriculum Vitae (eCV) system, which had been in use since 2000.

Aging Technology Limited Prior System’s Usefulness

Over the course of its lifetime, eCV had been used primarily to display faculty web profiles, including background information and many different types of research and clinical activities.

eCV had also been used to generate several reports and publications including annual reporting, National Institutes of Health biosketches, accreditation reports, provider directory booklets, Google mapping of provider locations, as well as personalized faculty CV reports.

“It proved to be a very useful tool across its two decades, but the underlying technology and interface was aging,” says Mark N. Schneggenburger, lead programmer/analyst in the Jacobs School’s Office of Medical Computing (OMC), and one of the primary developers of the eCV product.

When Schneggenburger began designing the updated system, the goal was to make it more flexible and customizable.

The Graduate School of Education (GSE) became an early adopter of the new UB Profile system and began using it for schoolwide annual reporting. In the ensuing years, OMC has worked closely with GSE IT staff to tweak, refine and add functionality to the product.

The Office of Inclusion and Cultural Enhancement in the Jacobs School has also used UB Profile for the last four years to track various school activities — such as curriculum, events, partnerships, grants, awards and mentoring — related to the core components of inclusion and diversity.

Flexible, Customized Intuitive Interface

In the spring of 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning, OMC began working with Rebecca S. Firth, senior research support specialist, and Elizabeth R. Harding, executive director of resource management, in the Department of Medicine to begin configuring UB Profile to collect the department’s annual reporting.

At the same time, Suzanne G. Laychock, PhD, senior associate dean for faculty affairs, was developing a new schoolwide Annual Faculty Review report for the Jacobs School.

Schneggenburger, Firth, Laychock and Sofia A. Tangalos, a senior staff assistant in the Jacobs School, began working remotely to design and configure an interface in the UB Profile system that could be used to accomplish multiple goals.

The updated UB Profile utilizes more modern, secure web and database technologies; works across multiple devices (mobile/phones/etc.); provides a more flexible, customized, intuitive interface for users; and can be used for multiple purposes, each configured and customized for its specific purpose.

“The greatest asset of UB Profile is its ability to be completely customizable to whatever audience is using it,” Schneggenburger says. “Whereas the user interface in eCV ‘is what it is,’ the presentation and interface for UB Profile is much cleaner and more focused, which greatly reduces faculty confusion regarding where and how to enter data.”

Faculty Profiles Remain Essential Tool

Laychock notes the faculty profile website for each faculty member is “essential to identification and description of their academic and scholarly record for the public and academic communities.”

Populating the various categories of information on the individual faculty profiles involves selection of specialty/research descriptors, writing a professional summary description of research and other academic pursuits, and ultimately listing elements of the CV such as education and training, employment record, awards and honors, publications and other professional activities.

“The faculty profile webpages are an essential information sharing platform for each of our faculty that is accessible to the UB family of users, but they are also routinely accessed by prospective students and other professionals and the community at large,” Laychock says.

“All faculty members need to have an up-to-date profile or else they appear as a ‘dark hole’ among our faculty with little or no information on who they are or their research and scholarly interests, or accomplishments,” she adds.

Implementing Annual Faculty Review Form

The Annual Faculty Review (AFR) form was created in order to formalize the required departmental annual faculty review by the chairs among all of the Jacobs School’s clinical and basic science departments.

“It marks the first time the Jacobs School has instituted a uniform method of annual faculty reviews by chairs and division chiefs in all departments,” Laychock says. “The information entered in the AFR form will be discussed with each faculty member in a meeting with their division chief or department chair to assess the faculty member’s development and achievements.”

The forms are stored in a secure file accessible only to department chairs and the dean of the medical school.

“UB Profile is now an integrated information record platform, with data sharing capability among the web profile, curriculum vitae, and Annual Faculty Review forms,” Laychock says. “Data that is common across these multiple forms will be automatically updated when one form has a data entry or deletion. This saves time and avoids the likelihood that some duplicated data will be ‘forgotten’ from the multiple documents.”

“The ability for our faculty to convert their CV and Annual Faculty Review form to Microsoft Word documents is also an important contribution through UB Profile,” she adds.