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Campus Needs $35 Million Network Upgrade, Says Report

Commission on Campus Computing Issues Recommendations

by Sunny Merik, Public Affairs
posted August 26, 1998

The 13-member Commission on Campus Computing completed its study of academic computing at Berkeley, and delivered its report to Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Carol Christ Aug. 11.

The report, commissioned by Christ, examined educational technology, departmental computing and the campus network. It makes 14 recommendations (see "Summary of Recommendations," page 2), including requiring all Berkeley students to possess a computer, and calling for the creation of a new associate vice chancellor for educational technology.

This is the first faculty review of campus technology in eight years.

"I'm delighted to receive the report of the Commission on Campus Computing and eager to share it with the campus community," said Christ. "The commission's assessments of Berkeley's computing needs and its wide-ranging recommendations will receive our immediate attention.

"The stakes are very high," she said. "The choices we make will influence profoundly our ability to sustain the quality of instruction, research and service at Berkeley in the years to come."

Perhaps the most costly recommendation of the report is the financing of a campus network upgrade. "The network, which is essential to everything, needs significant help," said Calvin Moore, chair of the commission and of the Department of Mathematics. "We recommend a one-time $35 million capital investment and an increase in the operating budget for the network."

The report points out that the network has grown from 7,500 nodes in 1992 to 32,000 nodes this year, and problems include insufficient bandwidth, obsolete wiring and equipment, and significant replacement needs.

"Providing the necessary funding to bring the network up to a level that is required for a top-ranked research university is the single highest priority among the myriad of computer resource problems the campus faces," the report states.

The recommendation that each student be required to possess a computer beginning in year 2000 is basic, according to Moore.

"In today's world a computer is simply necessary. Computers should be required in the same way textbooks are required," he said. "Students who don't have computers, like students who don't have required textbooks, are at great disadvantage. Also, if Berkeley requires computers, they can and should be included in financial aid packages," he added.

The report states that 75 percent of current Berkeley students own computers and another 10 percent indicate their intent to buy a computer within the next year.

Report recommendations 9 and 10, deal with the creation of a new position: associate vice chancellor for educational technology, and delineate the roles of the new position in relation to the associate vice chancellor for information systems and technology, the university librarian and academic departments.

The roles, the reporting structure and other implementation details continue to be discussed by all involved.

The 17-page report, plus appendices, includes a positive evaluation by a team of external reviewers. Among the evaluation comments, the reviewers said that "Most of the recommendations set out in the commission report seem to us to be right on target...."

Now that Christ has the report in hand, she said she plans "to place review of the report on a fast track. The campus's consultative processes involve review by the academic senate, the council of deans, department chairs, and the chancellor's cabinet. We welcome comments about the report from faculty and staff."

The report will be available on the web at:


Summary of Recommendations from Campus
Computing Commission

1. Recognize the ubiquity of computing and its central role in all aspects of academic, budgetary and organizational planning.

2. Starting in the fall of 2000, require all students to possess a computer with a recommended baseline set of functional capabilities.

3. Develop computer and information literacy standards for all students and provide the necessary training so that students will be able to meet these standards.

4. Give all students a permanent computer account that will stay with them for their entire campus career.

5. Create a skeleton web page for each class and link it to relevant student databases.

6. Create additional drop-in computer labs.

7. Provide docking facilities for laptops

8. The campus should continue making progress on the classroom technology project.

9. Create a new position of associate vice chancellor for educational technology (AVCET), with responsibility for budget, planning and management of campus-wide educational technology.

10. Delineate the respective roles of the AVCET, the associate vice chancellor for information systems and technology, the university librarian, and the academic departments.

11. Provide permanent annual funding of $1.75 million for departmental operating budgets as assistance for purchasing hardware and software and for funding technical support for departmental computing.

12. Departments should be able to choose from among many options for providing technical support.

13. Take immediate steps to upgrade the campus network.

14. Establish a computing utilities commission to oversee computing resources and services to assure quality and reasonable charges.

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