George Washington University going Drupal

gwmalbert's picture

George Washington University is currently running a commercial product for content management and has decided it is not the best strategic fit for the institution. To that end, we have made the decision to move away from the commercial product and Drupal has been selected as the direction we will pursue.

I would be interested in knowing if others are doing a centrally managed Drupal installation as the enterprise CMS for a university? Are any institutions using Drupal 7? Thoughts on which version you would use if you were starting from scratch today.


Drupal 7 is still pretty new

jastraat's picture

Arts and Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis is using Drupal heavily for content management. All of our sites are currently running Drupal 6. (We just upgraded the last Drupal 5 site in January.) We're looking at Drupal 7 right now in development. I would say that your choice of version may depend on your timeline. Version 7 is still pretty young, and there are a number of major contributed modules that provide key functionality that are still in alpha. That said, if you are just in the planning stages and don't intend to actually roll out sites in the next 6 months, Drupal 7 is probably the correct direction.

Warren Mayer's picture

GWMALBERT: The Missouri School of Journalism and the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute are BOTH walking away from a proprietary CMS and moving to Drupal. The School ( and the Institute ( are two separate entities, and I can speak for the School only. We have chosen to launch with Drupal 6 just to ensure stability, but with an eye toward moving up to Drupal 7 within 18 months to two years, perhaps earlier if conditions are favorable. The University's centralized CMS is NOT Drupal and thus we are setting up a custom installation on campus servers, working closely with the central IT department. Since we are in the middle of the project, I'm not sure how much I can offer in the way of valuable insight, but feel free to contact me. If you Google my username along with "Missouri" you will for sure find me.

Warren Mayer
I-Net Admin.
Missouri School of Journalism
Columbia, Mo. USA

Yes, SF State is, along with

coderintherye's picture

Yes, SF State is, along with quite a number of other universities. Might be nice to have a list of those doing centrally-managed Drupal as the enterprise CMS as I guess it could be a fairly limited number since anecdotal evidence points to most university departments still hosting distributed instances without central management. Yes also on using Drupal 7, though we are not rolling it out to campus until July.

I strongly suggest you plan for using Drupal 7 because your migration process is going to take a number of months, in which in the meantime the modules you need will have made stable releases.

Drupal evangelist.

smart advice

zchandler's picture

I strongly suggest you plan for using Drupal 7 because your migration process is going to take a number of months, in which in the meantime the modules you need will have made stable releases.


P.S. You coming to our DrupalCamp tomorrow?

zchandler's picture

You are in good company :) Stanford has similar plans that are currently evolving. I will likely have more to report in about 6 months. Yale has a rather robust deployment at, and Harvard has OpenScholar, which isn't exactly institution-wide, but a pretty big deal nonetheless. Duke is pretty heavily into Drupal. For PSU look up ELMS. Princeton is about where we are, just getting started at the institutional level (we've had a thriving grassroots community for years). Arizona State has a pretty sweet in-house team as well. Those are just off the top of my head, of course there are many more!!

Canadian Perspective

grimfandango's picture

I recently saw this article that lists the Drupal Activity in the Universities in Canada.

Plan ahead

highermath's picture

I strongly recommend that you consider when you plan to take your site(s) live, and plan around that. There are many components that aren't quite ready now, but have a very high probability of being completed by the time you launch.

Another thing that you should consider - building. I don't know which commercial CMS you are using, but I would venture a guess that for the price of a year's licenses, you could fund the work (either in-house or out) to finish a few modules that you need. That would be a big win-win for you and the community.

Wright State University

paranormals's picture

Wright State University has selected Drupal as its centrally managed CMS going forward. We are currently in the planning and early development stages. We will be using Drupal 7 with the goal of launching top level pages into Drupal by late summer. Anyone with similar interests please feel free to contact me to discuss things in more detail.

tonsof drupal usage at penn

btopro's picture

tonsof drupal usage at penn state but the movement and implementations are highly decentralizes at the moment has 110 sites at the moment but the real number is probably closer to 180ish with many more in the works


gchaix's picture

Both Oregon State ( and Portland State ( are on Drupal. Hundreds of sites, each.

University of Chicago

knaffles's picture

University of Chicago is in the process of spinning up some new sites in Drupal 7. We're starting with fairly low-profile sites while D7 settles down a little bit. We also have a number of existing sites in Drupal 6.

Aegir hosting

markwk's picture

As a side note to those looking at Drupal as an institutional change (or at least creating, implementing and updating a large number of sites), one useful tool is Aegir Hosting: (see: ). It can be a big time saver upgrading modules and core as well as a bunch of other nice stuff :)

University of North Texas

howrad's picture

University of North Texas endorsed Drupal as the official, centralized CMS. We have over 500 separate sites, and while that sprawl comes with some serious support burden, it also jump started (or JATO-boosted) the Drupal culture here. The push towards central web management has forced many disparate departments to make critical and overdue IA decisions and old site pruning.

We use far more carrots than sticks, and departments are continually moving to our centralized hosting and maintenance. After DrupalconSF, we started a Drupal user group, and we started hosting open office hours to meet with folks in person. The human interaction has been a big part of the deployment success.

In a cool way, the push towards Drupal has forced our institution to recognize and overcome old barriers, and it's had a unifying effect on aesthetics, branding, accessibility, and security. We didn't have a platform to provide standardized design before Drupal. I should say, having our own ticketing system (built in Drupal, of course), has been crucial. We've recently deployed an Openscholar pilot, which we hope can centralize faculty bios and cut down on custom one-off requests.

Case Study?

Alex UA's picture

@howrad- what you've just described sounds very similar to our experiences working with numerous clients, and it also seems like the basis of a really amazing case study. Would you have any interest in putting together a case study for the front page of d.o.? I can't guarantee it will get promoted, but I'd be happy to help edit and push it through. If you're interested take a look at How to get your showcase post promoted to the front page of

Thanks, and I hope you'll share more!

Alex Urevick-Ackelsberg
ZivTech: Illuminating Technology


Alex UA's picture

double posting a lot lately. wish I knew what I was doing wrong...

Alex Urevick-Ackelsberg
ZivTech: Illuminating Technology

This is awesome to hear of

coderintherye's picture

This is awesome to hear of course, and couldn't think of a better person to have pushed this effort. A definite +1 to those same lessons having been learned at SF State. I will say you guys are one step ahead due to having a ticketing system. Central IT at SF State doesn't have a ticketing system, but has been trying to procure one for many years, so unfortunately that ongoing procurement process meant we couldn't just use a ticketing system in Drupal :/, and as you said, a good ticketing system is a very important part of being able to manage a large system deployment such as this.

Drupal evangelist.

Questions For the Group

vwarnick's picture


Some questions about your use of Drupal:
1. One Drupal install used by all sites?
2. A common set of templates for all to use?
3. Do site owners have the ability to design their own templates?
4. How do you handle modules? A common set installed and supported? What about requests for module installation?
5. Can you detail the environment? Machine(s), OS, Database

Thanks in advance,

Multiple multisite installations

jastraat's picture

We have a few large multisite installations. We run a common set of installed modules on each installation, and we really only support those modules. If there is enough demand for a specific kind of functionality, we investigate options and then offer one module as a solution. Since we use multisite, none of the site owners have direct access to the file system. We have a few base themes that we work off of (one being zen) and we customize those to each site's needs. If a site owner comes with a design in mind, we try to implement it within this framework.

More Details

vwarnick's picture

Can you provide a bit more detail regarding your installation(s)? Machine environment, how many sites per installation, how many installations, and anything else you want to add. Thanks

I can't speak much to the

jastraat's picture

I can't speak much to the machine environment since that's not really my area. I know we're running Apache on Solaris. We've definitely had some challenges doing so. We use MySQL with a separate database for each site.

We have between 30-40 sites per installation and keep the modules updated using Drush. Each installation has a slightly different focus. For example, we use a selection of content access and workflow modules in one installation that focuses primarily on application and internal management sites. That's the installation we use for private files as well. On another installation we have a number of extra display modules installed: special view display plugins, panels, that sort of thing for public-facing sites.

Each site within a multisite installation has a subdomain name. To get more details on that configuration, you can see this post:

A new approach that we're planning for smaller sites is to create one site using organic groups and manage all the individual clients within one larger site.

Multisite and features at University of Chicago

knaffles's picture

We're working on an installation where multiple sites (at least tens, maybe hundreds eventually) will share a common template. Each site will be a separate site in a multisite install with its own database. All will point to /sites/all to access one of four offered themes and shared modules. Content types and views will be managed through Features, while a number of configuration variables will be managed via Strongarm. So we'll have a fair amount of control across all the sites. We're considering Aegir for multisite management.

Site owners will have fairly restricted permissions. They can administer content, blocks, and non-admin users, and they can choose their theme, but they can't administer content types, views, modules, or most configuration options. Giving them block administration gives them the ability to break their site, but we might figure out a way to lock that down to some extent.

Modules will be common to all sites. Initially, we probably won't be taking requests for module installation since everyone is sharing a common set of features. At some point, we'll likely address one-off or custom installations which require additional modules or where the client will have more administrative permissions.

I don't have any details on machines/environment yet.

toddajensen's picture

In late January our team (central IT and communications) deployed an instance of D7 multisite on campus. We've worked with our central communications group to deploy a campus-wide template for uniform user experience. We use drush to implement changes. We use an outside hosting firm for system/OS maintenance. We maintain the drupal upgrades.

Over the next couple of months, we will be refining our workflow processes and form capabilities. We are reviewing current community efforts specifically around workflow, maestro, workflow, and others.

Our instance is very similar to that of University of Chicago and others. Site owners may be less restricted. Our initial deployment is primarily to allow for easier page editing. We hope to move more towards content workflow and cross site sharing.

Would anyone be interested in meeting in an Adobe connect session to share ideas and see if there are things that we need as a group that we might be able to work on from multiple levels together?

I would be interested

theMusician's picture


I would be interested in meeting to discuss the issues that you outlined above. Currently the department I work for supports several multi-site installations and we are looking for a more manageable upgrade strategy.


toddajensen's picture

Upgrading from 6 to 7 has not be smooth for us. We had the luxury of coming into 7 fresh. What version are you running now? Are you currently in multisite?

d5, d6, d7

theMusician's picture

We currently have several multisite installs of d5 and d6. With d7 out we are developing new projects with d7. We plan on redeveloping the existing d5 sites/applications as d7 versions.

Drupal in Higher Education

Group organizers

Group events

Add to calendar

Group notifications

This group offers an RSS feed. Or subscribe to these personalized, sitewide feeds:

Hot content this week