(Posted October 3, 2000)

With the support of a recently established multi-million dollar endowment, Juniata College is developing an information technology program to prepare students to enter this growing field with necessary communication and business expertise, knowledge of current and emerging technologies, real-world experience, and the potential for entrepreneurship. Dr. Loren Rhodes, chair of the information technology department, will present "What is IT?" at 4:30 p.m., Oct. 11 in Good Hall 202. His discussion will focus on the Information Technology program and what Juniata is doing to prepare its students for the future.

The IT program represents another in the growing list of technology applications that will position Juniata as one of the country?s most technologically advanced liberal arts colleges.

Juniata is a liberal arts community, dedicated to putting its 1,300 students first. Juniata combines that principle, held in the highest regard for the institution?s 125 years, with a far more recent commitment to becoming a recognized leader in integrating technology into education and student life. Not only are Juniata students exposed to technology in the classrooms, they also have at their disposal technological offerings that many institutions fear to let even faculty members tinker with. This access to technology conquers any challenges of geography, giving students a window to the world that makes the distance to the next big city or university a moot point.

Anthony Bichel, director of Teaching/Learning Technologies, credits students for helping the college to achieve what it has in the area of technology. "The college?s technology program is shaped dramatically by the students, everything from training, to Web design, to policy," Bichel said. "Thanks to the students, we?re doing it all with a fraction of the full-time personnel that some institutions have. The level of student ownership is very high. We benefit greatly from their work, and they are getting valuable, hands-on work experience and a level of responsibility students usually aren?t afforded."

Right now more than 40 Juniata classrooms ? all but two ? have the latest technology that?s appropriate for higher education. In addition, the college has eight Smartboards, new digital video cameras, at least 130 new computers, a DVD burner, a DVD player in almost every classroom, three non-linear editing stations for creating movies and multi-media presentations via computer and much, much more. "Technologically-speaking, there?s almost nothing you can?t do at Juniata," Bichel said.

The college?s future plans include streaming live video on the Internet and introducing Web-based course management software, a system that will standardize course information and allow faculty to have class chat rooms, give online quizzes and much more.

Juniata is so committed to staying abreast of new technology that it recently kicked off a new academic major, Information Technology. The IT program, guided by an advisory board of industry professionals, not only includes traditional classroom and project work, but also offers a sequence of three classes in which student teams work directly with businesses in the nearby towns of State College, Reedsville and Huntingdon. Large institutions would find the challenge of keeping track of such project teams too much of a challenge. At Juniata, where working with students in the learning process is the primary goal of faculty members, it?s not an insurmountable challenge, but is embraced as a fresh alternative to traditional teaching and learning.

The IT program at Juniata is helping students to achieve competencies in communication, leadership, general business, strategic thinking and managing with a global perspective by linking technical grounding in information technology with the skills developed in a liberal arts curriculum.

Big things are happening at Juniata College. Ultimately, all of these efforts are to ensure that Juniata?s graduates not only avoid being swept up in the technological tide, but also have the ability and the confidence to turn it.

Dr. Rhodes? October 11 presentation on IT is free and open to the public. Dr. Rhodes came to Juniata College in 1980 with a bachelor?s degree and a master?s degree in computer science and then furthered his education by completing his Ph.D. at The Pennsylvania State University. He had been a graduate teaching and research assistant while pursuing his degrees. Rhodes received Juniata?s Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1986 and is a member of the Association of Computing Machinery. His particular academic interests include programming languages, object-oriented programming network systems, computer architecture, and VLSI CAD systems.

This presentation is the second of the Bookend Seminar series for the 2000-2001 academic year. The Bookend Seminar Series provides a forum for the Juniata faculty and administration to address topics of interest to members of the Juniata campus and local communities. The next presentation will be November 8 at the same time and place.

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.