Technology Fee Pays Dividends (416)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.– The University of Tennessee is ahead of schedule in turning dollars from technology fees into computer services for students, UT President Joe Johnson said Wednesday.

 Work on providing computer network and Internet access to student resident halls is completed or ahead of schedule, Johnson said. The number of computers purchased for instructional use and computer laboratories is up, he said.

 UT-Knoxville students started paying a $100-per-semester technology fee in January. In February, the UT board of trustees approved a $55 fee for UT-Martin students. At UT-Chattanooga students pay $15 per semester.

 All funds from the fee go to upgrade computer labs, provide better network and Internet access to both on-campus and commuter students and to improve instructional technology, Johnson said.

 The UT board will hear a progress report on technology expenditures at its meeting here Friday.

 “Our board (of trustees) approved these fees to make sure students have the tools and technology that will make them more successful while they are in school and to better prepare them for their careers,” Johnson said.

 “Our campus computer people have made good progress this year, and we’ll keep working hard to meet our students’ needs.”

 All 517 residence hall rooms at UT-Martin are “wired” for Internet access, and all UT-Knoxville dorm residents who requested connections for their personal computers were provided access this fall.

 By the end of the current academic year, UT-Chattanooga expects to have network capability in approximately 500 residence hall rooms.

 UT students say they are pleased with the progress the university is making.

 “Technology upgrades that were promised are on track,” Rob Power, UT-Knoxville senior from Brentwood and head of the student technology services committee, said. “No one who wanted their personal computer hooked up (in a residence hall) waited more than 48 hours.

 “Our job now is to let students know what’s available.”

 Anthony Gilley, UT-Martin student government president, said technology is improving the educational process.

 “Teachers are able to enhance their curricular requirements because the students have faster and easier methods to access information,” said Gilley, a senior communications major from Columbia.

 Dr. Susan Mettlen, vice chancellor for information infrastructure, said all UT-Knoxville residence hall rooms will have network connections in three years or less.

 Students living off-campus are finding connecting to campus networks and the Internet is faster because of upgraded modem pools, Mettlen said.

 Purchases of computers for instructional purposes since 1993 show these gains:

 * UT-Chattanooga 150, up to 360.

 * UT-Knoxville 785, up to 1,005.

 * UT-Martin 50, up to 165.

 —