Unprecedented Ten-year Partnership between Private Technology Firm and CSU System

By the year 2005, every student, every faculty member, every staff member of the CSU will have access to information technology in her or his CSU environment. From cables and telecommunication facilities to Internet classes and live video conferencing, the CSU will be wired for the best the 21st century has to offer in the way of new resources that offer broad access to our programs and services. This is the future, and the CSU is preparing Californians to thrive in it. --CSU Chancellor, Barry Munitz

The Systemwide Internal Partnership (SIP) of the California State University System has just signed an unprecedented, ten-year agreement with a private consortium of telecommunications and technology firms. Generated by the CSU's commitment to bring every campus in the system up to current levels of technology and to provide a mechanism to keep the technology updated, the historic agreement between SIP and CETI, a consortium made up of GTE, Fujitsu Business Communications Systems, Hughes, and Microsoft, was announced by Chancellor Munitz last week.

Although the selection has been made, implementation planning is just beginning. Meetings will begin this week to define implementation, campus consultation, and agreement on terms and conditions of the partnership. CSU, Chico's Fred Ryan, vice provost for Information Resources, and Beverly Taylor, director of Communications Services, will represent Chico in this planning.

A ten-year partnership with industry was sought to provide technological infrastructure like hardware, software, and wiring on and between campuses and for developing new sources of revenue to keep technology current. The SIP group has been meeting with industry representatives to determine the best way to develop a partnership that benefits both higher education and private businesses.

The partnership is intended to have three major functions:

1. Provide CSU technology infrastructure like hardware, software, and networking, and furnish technology services such as administration, training, and support to campuses and others over the next three years.

2. Develop an educational/training cooperative of faculty and industry to package, market and distribute education and training to partners and others.

3. Create an entity to deliver technology products and services to CSU that would use the buying power of the CSU system to allow discounts. Savings would be passed on to campuses.

The partnership expects to develop new technology-related businesses, provide a continuous source of funds for CSU's technology evolution, develop sufficient profitability for corporate partners, form a long- term union between diverse institutions, and achieve international prominence and recognition.

The Systemwide Internal Partnership was formed in response to the need to provide up-to-date technological tools and the means to use them. The outlines of the electronic learning environment, that allows "anytime, anyplace" information and communication, began to take shape in the 80s.

Despite significant achievements, CSU found that neither the system's funds nor the state general fund would provide enough to pay for the infrastructure necessary for the influx of students. The estimated cost to complete just the internal campus technology infrastructure (wiring, hardware, etc.) for the system is $200 million over the next three years. Projected dramatic increases in college enrollment, heightened competition among colleges and universities for students, and forecasts of limited state funding fostered the development of CSU's Integrated Technology Strategy.

The Integrated Technology Strategy (ITS) is the most comprehensive and intensive systemwide planning endeavor of its kind in the history of the CSU system. It takes advantage of the explosion in electronic and digital innovations. ITS is designed to combine, prioritize, and build upon previous efforts to utilize information technology to achieve four significant outcomes: (1) excellence in learning and teaching; (2) a high-quality student experience; (3) increased administrative productivity and quality; and (4) personal productivity of students, faculty, and staff.

The chancellor and campus presidents decided to seek corporate partnerships and put together the CSU Systemwide Internal Partnership. SIP explored a number of strategies ranging from legislative appropriations to continuing the gradual build-out of the CSU infrastructure, but none of these strategies satisfied the requirement of completing the technology infrastructure in two to three years in order to meet the influx of new students while also creating a reliable, renewable funding source to keep technology current.

The campus will be hearing more about SIP and what it means to Chico's technology components such as networking, computers, and support over the next few months as the details of the partnership and implementation plans are put together. The campus has already played a role in determining the best fit while choosing a corporate partner. Our representatives from Information Resources will continue to keep the campus needs in the forefront of negotiations.


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