Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

New Technology Organization Targets Underserved Institutions

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

New Technology Organization Targets Underserved Institutions

Article excerpt

ORLANDO, Fla. -- At the final national conference held here last month under the venerable name of Educom, David A. Staudt, along with hundreds of college and university information technology professionals, began charting a course for higher education's new information technology organization, Educause.

Educause was officially born this summer of a merger between Educom and CAUSE. Under the old regime, CAUSE was an association that helped its members to focus on the school administrative side of managing and using information resources and technology. CAUSE had members from 1,400 colleges and universities, and more than eighty corporations. Educom, which was also a non-profit consortium of colleges, universities, and other organizations, focused on academic computing issues through the application of information technologies. In addition to 600 institutional members, Educom had nearly 100 corporate associates.

Last summer, Staudt became Educause's networking outreach director. During the Educom conference, he expressed Educause's interest in reaching out to minority-serving institutions, financially strapped schools, and geographically remote institutions.

"What are underserved institutions?," he said. "They are essentially all the higher education institutions that want high-performance computing networks, but can't get them for some reason or another."

Staudt told the audience that Educause is undertaking a consulting role to help institutions find low-cost information technology infrastructure solutions. Part of that effort is to help schools build high-speed and high-capacity campus computer networks.

"High-performance networking is an exclusive club in higher education," Staudt added.

A handful of representatives from historically Black colleges and universities as well as a few African American IT professionals from predominantly White institutions attended the Orlando conference.

Dhyana Ziegler, assistant vice-president for instructional technology at Florida A&M University, said she believes an outreach campaign by Educause is badly needed. Pointing to the low number of Blacks present at the Educom conference, Ziegler, an African American, said the old organization appeared to have reached too few HBCUs. At majority White institutions, few Blacks hold positions in campus computing departments, Ziegler noted. She added that Black schools also have a duty to seek out groups, such as Educause, to help them empower their institutions. …

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