Black Colleges Networking On Technology Issues

Black Colleges Networking On Technology Issues
Three Major Conferences Slated

When the school year starts, students are not alone in having to adjust to campuses that have upgraded their information-technology infrastructures and are using more technology in the classroom. Faculty and staff also struggle to keep abreast of the issues generated by rapid change.
This fall, faculty, administrators and staff at the nation’s historically Black institutions have the option of attending three information technology conferences being organized for the historically Black college and university community.
The three conferences will examine campus IT products and services, along with the digital divide. Hundreds of representatives from historically Black campuses are expected to attend the following conferences:  The HBCU/MI Educational Technology Conference, in Atlanta; the Hampton University Technology Conference 2000: Closing the Digital Divide, in Hampton, Va.; and the
Seventh National HBCU Faculty Development Symposium, in Jackson, Miss. 
“Individual HBCUs have a lot to share with other HBCU campuses in the area of [information] technology,” says Debra White, Hampton University’s assistant provost for technology.
The move by Hampton and Clark Atlanta University to sponsor respective IT conferences partly reflects leadership positions each school has attained with regard to having developed sophisticated IT resources. Hampton and Tennessee State University recently became the first historically Black institutions to make the Yahoo! Internet Life “Most Wired Colleges” year 2000 list (see Black Issues, May 25). Hampton is ranked No. 72.
After having established state-of-the art videoconferencing facilities in collaboration with the U.S. Army, Clark Atlanta University officials launched the first HBCU/MI Educational Technology Conference in 1999.
“This is our second conference. It was primarily through our work with the [U.S. Department of] Defense Information Systems Agency and the Army in the early 1990s on videoconferencing technology that we developed strong relationships with other HBCUs,” says Dr. Diane Bowles, director of Clark Atlanta’s Video Technology Resource and Education Center. “The conference is an outgrowth of those relationships.”
Like the Hampton conference, the HBCU/MI Educational Technology conference — with the theme “The Digital Divide: Connecting Institutions, Technologies and Communities” — focuses on digital divide
issues. In addition, the HBCU/MI Educational Technology Conference, which takes place Oct. 29 through Nov. 1 at the Omni Hotel/CNN Center in Atlanta, showcases resources available from the federal and state governments, high-tech vendors, the health-care industry and historically Black schools and other minority-serving institutions.
Featured speakers include Robert L.
Mallett, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, B. Keith Fulton, executive director of corporate relations at America Online Inc. and Dr. David Satcher, U.S. Surgeon General.
The Hampton conference, “Closing the Digital Divide,” will be held Nov. 8-10 on the university’s campus. The conference features Tony Brown, the host of the PBS series Tony Brown’s Journal; Treopia Washington, of the White House Initiative on HBCUs; Bill Graves, chairman and founder of Eduprise; and Darrol G. Roberts, president and chief operating officer of Africana.com. Sessions will cover e-business solutions for higher education, network infrastructure, distance education initiatives and campus connectivity.
White says the idea for the conference stemmed from top school administrators and faculty members wanting more Black institutions to participate in the ongoing debate on the digital divide. “As a Black institution, we have an obligation to reach out to the communities that we serve. This is an opportunity for us,” White notes.”We have to be heard. There’s no better voice to carry [the digital divide] message than an HBCU,” she adds.
The HBCU Faculty Development Network, an independent HBCU faculty organization, convenes its annual symposium from Oct. 19-22 at the Hilton Jackson Hotel in Jackson, Miss. The symposium, “Collaborating to Building Educational Communities,” focuses on a broad range of issues in addition to information technology, but symposium officials estimate that 50 percent of the event’s content is focused on faculty use of information technology in the classroom.
For more information about HBCU technology conferences:
•  HBCU/MI Educational Conference: (www.vitrec.cau.edu/techexpo)
•  Hampton University Conference 2000 (http://www.hamptonu.edu/HUTC2000)
•  HBCU Faculty Development Symposium —  e-mail srozman@aol.com  



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