U.S. News – Best Colleges 2011

Group of 30:

I thought you might enjoy reading the US News article listing the top 15 “Most Wired College Campuses”.  Berea College is ranked 7.  In the past few years we have made gains on many fronts.  We protected our EDGE laptop program during budget realignments, deployed a robust virtual server/SAN infrastructure, added new technology labs and facilities to support teaching and learning and expanded wireless coverage across campus.  With support from our senior officers, we have funding in place to move aggressively in the months ahead to deploy VOIP and upgrade classroom media technology across campus.  Bill and I finished negotiations last week for internet service to the campus and a new contract was signed with Windstream that will double the bandwidth to our campus from 100 Mbps to 200 Mbps at a cost that will be less than our current contract.  In addition, our new “BC – On Demand” video streaming service will be unveiled shortly as a feature of our new Digital Film Production Studio now under construction.

What I wanted to share with you is my honest take on our US News ranking and it is not a good one.  To determine our ranking, US News simply calculated the number of College provided computers per student and compared that to our counterparts.  In essence, the number of laptops and lab computers at Berea took us to the top of the most wired list.  No other factors were considered.  With that said, our US News ranking, and all of the activities previously noted, pale in comparison to the conversations we began this year.  The above initiatives and US News ranking reveal only what can be easily seen and measured.  The significance of our work lies deeper and involves how we leverage what we build to create real value in support of our mission, curriculum, and learning goals.  That is why our conversation is so important.  All Colleges are wrestling with these issues and higher education is truly at a technology cross roads.

A number of you were able to join us recently for a tour of the Noel Center at EKU where we saw a glimpse of what will come.  Our thinking about learning spaces and the intentional blending of people, resources, and technology  to support active and collaborative learning will continue to be a key component of our Group of 30 conversations.  These issues are also having an impact on our thinking about organizational structure in IS&S.  In times of change we have to use our existing staff and resources in the most effective way possible.  We are also hoping to connect the Group of 30 with individuals at Duke Link later this spring to continue our broader conversation.  These are interesting times in the evolution of Berea and in Higher Education.

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