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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

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.

Educause CEO Dr. Brian Hawkins told attendees that attracting HBCUs
and other minority-serving institutions represented a high priority for
the new organization.

“One of our goals as an association is to help institutions help themselves,” Hawkins said.

In total, more than 2,400 people attended the Educom conference.
Instead of lamenting the loss of the old group, conference participants
praised the merger that has brought Educom and CAUSE together. The
sentiment among many participants was that Educause will effectively do
the jobs previously undertaken by the two organizations — to advance
higher education institutions through information technology. The new
organization officially took effect on July 1.

“I supported the merger,” said Dr. Ronald Bleed, president of
Maricopa Community College and an Educause board member. “It made sense
to combine the two groups … The higher education community is much
better off with one strong group as opposed to two.”

Bleed said the merger would also benefit community colleges, many
of which have belonged to both groups. In addition to the two groups,
the League for Innovation, an information technology consortium
strictly devoted to the two-year college community, also represented
community colleges on information technology issues.

Last year, individual members in both CAUSE and Educom
overwhelmingly voted at their separate national meetings in favor of
merging the two organizations. Members in both groups believed that the
dividing lines between administrative and academic computing had become
too blurred. As the missions of the groups had become similar,
organization members saw two groups serving the same constituents.
Corporate vendors had also expressed reservations about the wisdom of
working with two organizations whose missions overlapped as much as
CAUSE’s and Educom’s had, Hawkins said.

Both Educom and CAUSE followed through with their 1998 meetings to
fulfill contractural obligations. The final CAUSE meeting is scheduled
for December in Seattle.

Educause will have its operational headquarters in Boulder, Colo.,
where CAUSE was located. The organization will also maintain an office
in Washington, D.C., the previous home of Educom.

Information about the merger, including the Plan and Agreement of
Consolidation and the Articles of Incorporation, is available on the
old CAUSE Web site at:>.

COPYRIGHT 1998 Cox, Matthews & Associates

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