‘Nova recognized for focus on technology

Molly Grace

Last week, “The Princeton Review” and Forbes.com recognized Villanova University in its third annual listing of the “Top 25 Most Connected Campuses” in America. After collecting data from those schools identified in its “Best 361 Colleges” guidebook, “The Princeton Review” evaluated the campuses on their “computing prowess,” using such criteria as the availability and sophistication of campus technology (including streaming audio or video courses), computer support systems, wireless Internet access and computer science curriculum.

Listed alongside such notable schools as Carnegie Mellon, Cornell University, MIT, NYU, Syracuse and UPenn, Villanova earned the distinction through its commitment to staying on the cutting-edge of the technical world and by providing the “top-flight tech skills” that enable its students to succeed both in their campus and future lives.

According to Rob Franek, vice president and publisher of “The Princeton Review,” it is crucial to keep students abreast of constantly-evolving media advancements as the world becomes increasingly reliant upon digital communication. By “preparing and supporting students for life in the digital age,” these 25 schools have become leaders in the wide-spread ways they use technology to improve all aspects of campus life.

One innovative initiative that may have captured “The Princeton Review’s” interest and boosted Villanova to the top tier of its rating is UNIT’s new campus print program, VPRINT. After observing that the previous Print Pilot Program resulted in wasteful printing, UNIT found that the cost of paper (upwards of one million sheets per year) and toner cut into their ability to provide additional services. Under the new university-wide effort that was introduced at the start of the Fall 2005 semester, each Villanova student was given an allocation of free black and white prints – about 1,000 for undergraduates and 1,200 for graduates – before being asked to pay for additional sheets. A similar program has been set in place for the faculty and staff as well. UNIT reports that these new measures have resulted in a 30 percent reduction of waste.

Not only will the use of a release system ensure a more efficient printing experience, but the new program also seeks to provide the members of the Villanova community with the best technological opportunities available. By shifting the way in which the University allocates its resources, UNIT has been able to upgrade the majority of the public computer labs on campus, equipping them with the industry’s best high performance printers that print three to four times faster than they were previously capable.

The Mendel public lab has also enjoyed the fruits of the program, as UNIT was able to purchase brand new LCD flat panel monitors for it, with plans to replace Tolentine’s monitors in the near future.

In addition, new Adobe Acrobat software will allow students to create their own PDF files in all public computing labs, providing them with the opportunity to digitally submit an assignment in a professional format. The college of Engineering is also testing out a color printing pilot in which students will be able to print in color for 12 cents per page.

By redirecting printing inefficiencies into programs that have improved the value of Villanova’s digital life, UNIT has succeeded in achieving the technological elitism that garnered the respect of “The Princeton Review.” As one of the academic computer support analysts on campus commented, UNIT is “always evaluating what the student population needs in terms of computing accessibility. Nothing is out of the realm of possibility.”