Yale Divinity School presses forward on electronic communications

This week Yale Divinity School takes several steps toward implementation of a more robust electronic communications strategy, including introduction of a redesigned, more user-friendly home page. The week also marks the rollout of newly designed faculty pages and class notes pages, following on the heels of the launch of new YDS Facebook and Twitter pages.

ScreenshotUndergirding the redesign is adoption of a “content management system” that streamlines and automates many of the tasks involved in maintaining the YDS web site.

John Lindner, director of the Department of External Relations—encompassing communications, publications, alumni relations, and development— said, “The staff has worked long and hard to create an electronic communications strategy that will serve us well as use of electronic media has become more and more central to engagement with alums and friends.”

“We have taken steps that I believe lay the groundwork for more innovations as time goes on.  I am very excited about the promise of our enhanced communications to keep alumni and other members of the YDS community involved with the many events and topics of conversation on the Quad as well as ways that YDS is serving both church and world.”

Work on the upgraded web site began last summer, when YDS web coordinator Campbell Harmon ’04 M.A.R. and Paul Evans ’09 M.A.R., who has a background as a Silicon Valley IT executive, spent several months working together and interfacing with Yale technology personnel to begin development of a content management system based on the very popular, and open source (free), Drupal software.  When Evans left campus in August to enter a Ph.D. program in Medieval studies at Catholic University, Harmon continued the project with advisory assistance from Yale’s central information technologies division.

WebmasterHarmon said, “The significant resources of the wider University were—and continue to be—immensely helpful to us in adapting the Drupal system to meet our needs.  The efficiency of our new content management system will allow me to spend more time dealing with ‘big picture’ issues and less time working on day-to-day maintenance.”

While some of the interior pages on the YDS web site have been converted to the Drupal system, others are still in process.  The Admissions site was among the first to be put on the new system.  Now the YDS faculty pages and the class notes pages have been added as well.  In both cases, various search options are available that make it easier for readers to find what they are looking for.

YDS entered the world of Facebook communications in earnest during this year’s Lenten season, principally in connection with the launch of the Mobilizing Faith, Fighting Poverty initiative.  That Facebook page, which featured daily postings by YDS staff throughout Lent, generated a list of 600 “friends” across the country.   YDS has also created a permanent YDS Facebook page that promises to be a central venue for the sharing of information by the broader YDS community. Daily updates from the Quad will be featured and a robust interchange among YDS alums and friends will be welcome.  ”Please join us on Facebook!” said Lindner.

Expanded use of video clips is another facet of the new electronic communications strategy.  While YDS was among the first schools at Yale to post video clips of lectures on its own web site, webcasts are now being posted on YouTube, resulting in an enhanced viewing experience and vastly expanded outreach.  Most recently, YDS posted a number of segments on YouTube from the Mobilizing Faith, Fighting Poverty kick-off event at the National Press Club in Washington on Ash Wednesday.

On May 5, in conjunction with the DIVINITY TOMORROW capital campaign, a film about YDS is being released that was made by a professional production company.  The film will be shown at the joint meeting of the YDS Board of Advisors and YDS Alumni Board.  But plans are to use segments of the film in the future in other contexts as well.

Posted: 05/02/2011