Yahoo! They Made It
For first time in years, two Black colleges named ‘most wired’
HAMPTON, Va. — As the only historically Black institutions to make the Yahoo! Internet Life “Most Wired Colleges” year 2000 list, officials at Hampton University here and Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tenn., say the recognition helps bring attention to the progress of information technology development on their respective campuses.
“This is a great honor for Hampton University,” says Debra White, Hampton University’s assistant provost for technology.
“Hampton University has made a concerted effort to increase its technology offerings and offer its academic programs to a global community. This ranking is proof of our commitment. Our ranking among the top of the nation’s universities speaks highly of Hampton.”
Dr. Anand Padmanabhan, director of communications and information technologies at Tennessee State University, is equally pleased by the distinction.
“This is a feather in our cap,” Padmanabhan says.
In recent years, the criteria upon which high school students and their parents select desirable colleges has broadened to include the profile of the institution’s information technology infrastructure. Will school computer laboratories have enough computers for student use? Will there be dormitory room Internet connections for students who bring their laptops and personal computers to campus? Will students be able to register online for their courses and access campus e-mail from the World Wide Web?
Yahoo! Internet Life magazine has highlighted these questions in its “Most Wired Colleges” list designed to inform readers which higher education institutions provide the best IT infrastructure and service. Making the 100 “Most Wired Colleges” university list shows that Hampton and Tennessee State operate campus IT infrastructures that are considered among the most advanced and best service-oriented among America’s colleges and universities.
Tennessee State was ranked 55th and Hampton 72nd out of the schools included in the research university list. Their inclusion marks the first time in 3 years that historically Black schools made it onto the “most wired” lists.
“We’ve gotten a tremendous response from our colleagues at the HBCUs. They have been proud of the recognition we’ve gotten,” White says.
Within the Black college community, the “Most Wired Colleges” achievement has proven decisively that HBCUs can be leading institutions offering top-notch services for their respective academic community. While a few other HBCUs, such as Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Fla., have gotten recognition for having IT resources and programs that put them among the nation’s elite, much of the HBCU community is believed to be struggling to provide basic services and equipment for their students.
That struggle among HBCUs has spurred consortium-building efforts among Black colleges and universities.
Hampton, for example, participates in the Executive Leadership Foundation’s Technology Transfer Project, which coordinates IT development among 12 private HBCUs.
The College Fund/UNCF, the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education and the Historically Black Cyber College Consortium have sponsored initiatives aimed at getting IT expertise, equipment and services on to historically Black campuses.
Earlier this year, school officials from U.S. colleges and universities filled out online survey forms to qualify for the “Most Wired Colleges” lists. Yahoo! Internet Life, in partnership with Petersons, a leading provider of higher education information, collected data in more than 40 areas. Editors at Yahoo! Internet Life tabulated the results and determined the rankings.
“Nearly, 1,300 schools from all 50 states contributed data about their network systems, Internet research projects and student Web Services, as well as their plans for incorporating technology into all aspects of campus life,” says Rob Bernstein, a Yahoo! Internet Life editor.
Survey officials add that 3,631 open-enrollment accredited undergraduate two- and four-year institutions were invited to participate in this year’s survey. They note that in the 1999 survey, officials invited just 571 schools to participate in the poll.
The project determined four lists, which include top 100 university/research schools; top 100 colleges/baccalaureate schools; top 100 two-year institutions; and top 100 less selective baccalaureate (Baccalaureate II) colleges. Hampton and Tennessee State each qualified as top 100 university/research schools, the category of the largest and best-funded institutions.
Participating schools answered survey questions that asked for the percentage of public computers purchased in the last two years, the percentage of classrooms on the campuses wired for high-speed ‘Net access, and the availability of online services, such as registration and application.
A Commitment from the Top
Both White and Padmanabhan say much of the work that they believe led to selection of their school among the “Most Wired Colleges” has happened over the past year or two. They each credit their respective presidents for having credible visions on campus leadership with regard to IT.
“I came on board at Tennessee State because I believed [Dr.] James Hefner, [president of the university], to be a visionary on IT,” says Padmanabhan, who joined the Tennessee State staff two years ago.
In that time, Padmanabhan has led efforts to get Internet connections in all dorm rooms, implement Web-based e-mail and course registration and has increased network storage space for the university community.
The school also reports other IT improvements, such as 24-hour computer labs, significant increases in the number of public computers on campus and implementation of a campus network that handles voice, video and data traffic.
Hampton University’s White notes that her campus has made significant strides just within the past year. Since spring 1999, the school has completed wiring the dormitory for Internet connections, established online courses and degree programs, implemented Web-based e-mail for the university community and begun transforming the Hampton University Web site into a full-service university portal.
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