OU named among top wired universities

By Althea Peterson

Transcript Staff Writer

Students across the University of Oklahoma's campus are busy preparing for finals, but not just in the library and computer labs.

OU has been recognized in the "Top 10 Wired Colleges" in the nation, a ranking that includes such institutions as Villanova University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Swarthmore College.

The announcement was made Tuesday by PC Magazine, the leading technology publication in the United States, and The Princeton Review.

"This is a distinct honor for OU and demonstrates our commitment to providing the latest in technology to enhance our students' educational experiences and opportunities," said OU President David Boren in a release. "OU's ranking is a credit both to our academic leaders and to OU's chief information officer, Dennis Aebersold, and his staff."

Daric Clapper, a secondary education and social sciences senior, said having wireless Internet access in places such as Oklahoma Memorial Union helps with coursework.

Tamarah Bibb, an advertising freshman also working in the union, said being able to access the Internet outside the dorms helps with studying.

"It's good to come here because I don't have the distractions in my room," Bibb said.

The Norman campus uses more than 450 wireless access points to provide wireless coverage to Oklahoma Memorial Union; Bizzell Memorial Library; Gaylord Hall, home of the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication; the Michael F. Price College of Business; the National Weather Center on OU's Research Campus; and 20 additional facilities.

The OU regents also approved $6.3 million in purchase orders annually for IT network connectivity equipment and a $300,000 contract to Chickasaw Telecom Inc. for hardware for wireless administration at their December meeting last week.

Clapper said he thought the wireless access was adequate now, he would love to see more availability.

"I've been on it for quite awhile today, and I've never had any problems connecting," he said. "It's substantial for me, but there's always room for more opportunities."

The top wired college list honors colleges and universities with the most comprehensive ? in terms of size, scope and quality ? computing and technology offerings. Criteria focused on three main areas of technology: Academics, Student Resources and Infrastructure. OU was recognized for its technologies that allow students to keep appointments, take tests and even have fun online through Sooner Account, an online student profile with a host of services.

Also this week, Aebersold was named in the nation's Premier 100 Information Technology Leaders by "Computerworld," a list composed of business and industry leaders, information technology directors and managers and others from a broad range of business, government, academic and entertainment backgrounds.

"Dennis Aebersold is very deserving of this outstanding national recognition," Boren said. "His leadership has helped take OU into the top ranks of all universities in technological tools available to students and faculty. His selection is evidence that our university not only excels nationally in the quality of its faculty, but in the quality of its staff as well."

Aebersold, who has overseen the instructional, research and administrative technology needs of OU's three campuses since 2000, has worked to fulfill his strategic plan of creating a technology-assisted learning environment where technology is widely available, appropriate and transparent to users; a technology environment that promotes user self-sufficiency; a campus infrastructure that supports an e-university setting; and providing the university a respected and valued world-class IT organization.

Among his accomplishments, Aebersold has overseen the recent rapid growth of wireless networking technologies at OU -- the most popular request from the university's student governments and the one that Information Technology is asked to provide most by the student population in general.

Althea Peterson 366-3539 apeterson@normantranscript.com

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