Pawlenty recommends $6.9 million for campus technology

It is hoped that the money will help keep the University on par with other institutions.

James Schlemmer

In an effort to increase technology across the state, Gov. Tim Pawlenty recently agreed to the University’s request of $6.9 million for improved technology, recommending that figure to the state Legislature.

The $6.9 million is a part of the total $115 million the governor allocated for the University in new initiatives, according to Jayne Rankin, higher education budget analyst for the department of finance.

The University’s technology funding would be part of a total of $213 million to colleges and other state agencies. The request was part of Pawlenty’s budget proposal in January.

The University will hear from the Legislature this spring about whether the governor’s recommendation will be granted.

Steve Cawley, University vice president and chief information officer, said the University is further attempting to emphasize itself as a technology institution. Among the improvements Cawley said he hopes to see involve resources that help the communication process between students, such as WebCT.

“We hope to bring greater learning techniques to the classroom,” he said.

Marketing and accounting sophomore Nicole Susuki said the technology on campus could use improvements.

“The library software can be slow,” she said. “It freezes a lot.”

English senior Levita Ayala said the money could be used in better ways.

“Some of the computers move really fast,” she said. “Why would they put that money for upgrading when we need lower tuition?”

Cawley said the University updates library computers on a two- to three-year cycle, and the University is as well-funded as most other universities.

The University has about 40,000 computers on campus and about 51,000 undergraduates, he said.

According to Cawley, a large portion of the $6.9 million will go toward improving the wireless connections on campus.

“More students have laptops these days,” he said. “We want to improve the wireless experience.”

Cawley said the University has about 2,000 wireless hot spots on campus. PC Magazine and The Princeton Review recently ranked the University as the 12th-most wired college in the nation.

However, the wireless is not as fast as it needs to be in order to keep up with other top technology colleges, Cawley said.

Karen Olson, Wilson Library Technology Services manager, said the University cannot afford to fall behind in this day and age.

College “is becoming more and more electronic,” she said. “We can see it with new electronic text and electronic resources.”