Baylor Wins National Award for Excellence in Telecommunications

June 26, 1998

Baylor University has received the 1998 Association of College and University Telecommunications Administrators (ACUTA) Award for Institutional Excellence in Telecommunications in the category of institutions of 5,000-15,000 students.

Baylor's IDEASnet -- which provides the latest distance learning technology for students and teachers while assisting with the academic and administrative operations of the university -- is what caught the attention of ACUTA.

"This is ACUTA's most prestigious award. Our goal in presenting such awards for excellence is to recognize vision and technological leadership in the creative use of telecommunications to support teaching, research, decision-making and the delivery of services," said Margaret L. Milone, ACUTA president. "Baylor's leadership in planning and implementing the network underscores the university's commitment to teaching and public service."

"It is very gratifying for Baylor to be recognized by its peers in network support for colleges and universities," said Tim Logan, associate director for instructional technology and president of the Texas Distance Learning Association. "The university committed its resources not just to buying the necessary equipment but applying it to the growing needs of students and faculty."

Rather than traditional distance learning where new student markets are targeted for video-based instruction, Baylor and IDEASnet have focused on providing new educational experiences for traditional students on campus and at outlying locations, including the School of Nursing in Dallas, K-12 in-service teachers in Waco and Killeen schools, and graduate programs in Conroe and San Antonio. IDEASnet has also been adapted to support the university's administrative needs, including faculty committee meetings and career services outreach.

"IDEASnet is a vital part of Baylor's strategic vision to offer the best possible education in a Christian environment by including the effective use of technology in the teaching and learning process," said Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr. "IDEASnet has been used to bring in guest presenters from industry and education, to connect with the School of Nursing on a regular basis, and to collaborate with other educators, both regionally and nationally."

The future of IDEASnet includes dedicated connections to the Alliance for Higher Education videoconferencing network in north Texas, additional conferencing facilities in Waco, and connections to additional off-campus Baylor sites, such as Truett Seminary, development offices in Dallas and Houston, and health-care programs at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.

"Because the network was developed in response to specific educational goals and objectives, IDEASnet has seen significant growth in utilization, to the extent that further expansion has become a necessity, rather than an option," said Logan. "The faculty have proved to be extremely creative in requesting new and unexpected services from the network for instructional purposes."

The award will be presented to Baylor July 15 during the 27th annual ACUTA Conference and Exposition in San Diego, Calif. ACUTA will also present the award on the Baylor campus at a later date.

ACUTA is an international non-profit educational organization dedicated to the enhancement of teaching, learning, research and community service by providing leadership in the application of telecommunications technology for higher education. The association serves nearly 800 colleges and universities.

In May 1998, Yahoo! Internet Life magazine ranked Baylor 22nd in its list of "America's Most Wired Colleges" -- the only Texas insitution in the top 25 and the highest ranking in the Big 12 Conference.

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