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Joliet Junior College to Deploy AI Assistant for Faculty

The Phoenix-based Canyon GBS’ first community college client is Joliet Junior College in Illinois, which intends to launch an enterprise AI assistant for a variety of instructional and administrative purposes.

Humanoid robot as a callbot with a headset, clicks on the display. 3d illustration.
Joliet Junior College in Illinois has partnered with the Phoenix-based technology services company Canyon GBS to launch a new higher-ed-specific enterprise AI assistant for faculty and staff.

According to an announcement in April, the partnership makes Joliet one of the first community colleges in North America to deploy a generative AI assistant tool that is specifically tailored to the institution and ensures compliance with data privacy regulations like the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Joliet is also Canyon AI’s first community-college client. The college’s President Clyne Namuo said the tool will allow the school to use AI for a variety of instructional and administrative purposes, and it features more data privacy guardrails than other open-source generative AI tools on the market today, such as ChatGPT. He said the goal of partnering with Canyon was to ensure the college uses AI responsibly.

“The tool that they’ve developed is higher-education specific, and to be more precise, it’s higher-education compliant. It’s a tool that’s made by higher-education professionals for higher-education professionals, and that’s what drew us to the tool to begin with,” he said. “There’s some information that should not be entered into [non-enterprise versions of] ChatGPT or to Copilot, and there are no data privacy guardrails right now that are readily accessible to higher-education professionals. What Canyon GBS’s tool allows us to do is provide AI tools to our employees and put those guardrails in place to ensure that we’re using it in a way that’s compliant.”

Namuo said the AI assistant will enable college staff to generate content for social media to promote events, lecture materials, emails for university communications and language translations. It can also condense complex information for students, such as how to obtain a Pell Grant, and assist researchers by analyzing and distilling lengthy articles into more concise and comprehensive summaries.

The announcement comes as universities ramp up adoption and development of higher-ed AI tools for administrative and instructional functions, such as at Arizona State University, which partnered this year with ChatGPT developer OpenAI to integrate ChatGPT’s enterprise version with additional data security features. Universities such as the University of Michigan and the University of California, San Diego have also developed their own in-house AI tools for improved data security and factual reliability.

Canyon GBS’ website says its AI tools are two to six times more affordable than most enterprise AI tools for higher ed, making AI adoption more feasible for smaller colleges with more financial constraints.

“Our collaboration with Joliet Junior College highlights our commitment to democratizing access to AI solutions in higher education, offering a cost-effective alternative to traditional enterprise offerings while delivering the highest standards of quality, security, or functionality,” Canyon GBS founder and CEO Joe Licata said in a public statement.
Brandon Paykamian is a staff writer for Government Technology. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from East Tennessee State University and years of experience as a multimedia reporter, mainly focusing on public education and higher ed.