REDMOND, Wash., Feb. 28, 2000 — Kathleen Canney Lopez remembers the first time Southwestern College installed Microsoft Office 97 in its computer labs — no one was ready for the change. Most faculty members had not seen or used Office 97, none had ordered Office 97 textbooks for their classes and no one had copies of the software for training. But last fall, when the college just north of the Mexican border in Chula Vista, Calif., upgraded to Office 2000 it was a different story, thanks to some help from Microsoft.
Canney Lopez is a Microsoft Mentor, one of 500 educators in the U.S. who have already participated in training offered by the company’s Education Group and in return have promised to become faculty trainers at their own colleges and universities, helping at least 20 additional faculty. By the end of the 1999-2000 school year Microsoft plans to have trained more than 1,000 Microsoft Mentors, resulting in more than 20,000 faculty trained nationwide.
“I went to the Microsoft Mentor Program training at the request of our college president and it made a huge difference,” Canney Lopez said. “The training is real training I can use for myself and to help others, and the materials we received are tailored for college teachers’ needs using products like Microsoft FrontPage, Word and Publisher. Now, our faculty are excited about learning to use this new technology.”
The Microsoft Mentor Program is just one of many programs, resources and tools Microsoft has developed to promote and enhance the use of technology in higher education. It is because of these efforts that Microsoft recently was ranked the most responsive technology company by U.S. colleges and universities in a recent survey released by International Data Corporation (IDC), a Framingham, Mass., market research firm. The survey, part of IDC’s “State of Technology Usage in Higher Education Institutions, 1999,” asked colleges and universities which companies have the best reputation for meeting the IT needs of higher education. 81.4 percent of two- and four-year schools ranked Microsoft number one.
“As a market that spent more than $3 billion on IT in 1999 and will spend almost $5 billion by 2003, higher education institutions will continue to challenge IT vendors to offer innovative programs, effective support and comprehensive customer-focused solutions,” said IDC analyst Sau Lau. “Most of the companies included in our recent survey already have specific programs targeted at the higher education community, but we found that Microsoft by far has the most programs, which include professional development, technology planning and grants and charity.”
Microsoft is sensitive to college and universities’ unique needs when it comes to planning and implementing their technology programs. As a result, the company’s Education Group has worked with a variety of educators, associations and colleges and universities to create a variety of resources and programs designed to offer colleges and universities flexible, efficient access to the latest versions of Microsoft software for students, faculty and staff use. For example, Microsoft worked with EDUCAUSE to set up a Higher Ed Licensing Advisory Council, representing 28 different institutions to help shape the Campus Agreement software licensing program to meet their varied needs.
This fall, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) will become the first Carnegie Research Level 1 University to require incoming freshmen to purchase laptop computers. Through a Campus Agreement software licensing agreement with Microsoft, UNC has an affordable way to ensure that all students, faculty, and staff have the latest Microsoft software loaded laptops and other desktop PCs.
“The price of the software was a big issue for us, since we are requiring students to purchase laptops,” said Marian Moore, vice chancellor for Information Technologies at UNC. “I needed to find every way that I could to make this new requirement affordable for our students and the Campus Agreement with Microsoft worked out extremely well.
In addition Moore says Campus Agreement has a hidden benefit. Administrative overhead previously required to track all of UNC’s software licenses and manage upgrades is now significantly reduced since software is tracked on a server rather than staff needing to go department by department to track individual purchases.
By introducing and supporting programs such as Campus Agreement and the Mentor Program Microsoft is committed to helping colleges and universities find the best solutions to easily and affordably put technology into the hands of students, faculty and staff. Working with the higher education community, Microsoft will continue to provide colleges and universities with the programs and technology tools that help them expand and enhance learning opportunities and prepare students for success in the workplace and life.