On June 6, the University of South Alabama's Board of Trustees held its first meeting with the school's recently elected president, Tony G. Waldrop. The new president brought more with him to the table than a fresh face – this was also the board's first paperless meeting.
The board used tablets and an overhead projector to follow the progress of the meeting. Eighteen tablets were purchased for the 15 members of the board – a few extra were procured in case of guests at future meetings. The conversion to tablet-based document management software, according to AL.com, was made at the behest of Dr. Steve Furr, the board's chair pro tempore. Waldrop, an avid recycler, agreed with the proposal. Furr pushed for the initiative in an effort to reduce costs and promote sustainable policies.
Waldrop officially began as the university's president on April 2, following the retirement and subsequent death of his predecessor, Gordon Moulton.
Previously, board meetings required inch-thick booklets stuffed with agendas and supplementary documents. The printing and binding of these booklets for the preceding four meetings cost the university $4,253 for a total of 31,000 pages. AL.com reports that at $7,200 total, the tablets will pay for themselves within two years.
According to PCWorld.com, the cost of printer ink by the gallon in 2003 was $4,731, and that hasn't changed much. Ink can cost more than vintage champagne or Russian caviar and will run you north of $20 per cartridge.
The Board of Trustees aren't the only people at the university with environmentally friendly practices on the mind, either. Content management services make it possible for employee newsletters to be compiled and distributed virtually. Additionally, the Financial Affairs office has gone paperless, and the Office of Research and Economic Development is currently taking advantage of document capture solutions in order to create a virtual work environment.
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