by Ned Simonson
From the very beginning, St. John's mission has been about
access: access to education, access to opportunity and access to a
better life. Since last fall, every entering freshman added access
to one of "higher education's top-ranked, high-tech wireless
networks" to the list.
The Academic Computing Initiative (ACI), the broad-reaching
program launched in September 2003 that put leading-edge technology
into the hands of students and faculty alike, is serving as the key
to a superior education through access to the Wi-Fi network and St.
John's Central, the University's secure portal to the Internet.
"Students are no longer interested in doing the minimum," says
Barbara Signer, professor of early childhood and adolescent
education on the Queens campus. "I require two, 200-word Web
postings a week in my class. But what I usually get is eight to 10
postings. Students are eager to get online and share in the
Now, less than a year into the program, the ACI caught the
attention of some of the biggest names in the high-tech industry by
receiving national recognition for its revolutionary technological
Recently St. John's earned a nomination to the Computerworld
Honors Program - Search for New Heroes - permanent archive.
Established in 1988, the Program is dedicated to identifying
leaders in the global information technology revolution and
recording the impact of their achievements on society. Program
administrators seek to partner influential high-tech firms with top
academic institutions to document "a revolution in progress."
As participants in the Computerworld Honors Program, St. John's
officials contributed a case study summarizing the benefits of the
ACI and the details of the extensive hardware, the integrated
software and the comprehensive training and support completing the
initiative. This document will be housed in the Smithsonian
Institution among other esteemed institutions around the world so
that future generations may see how technology has helped advance
the University's mission in ways previously unimagined.
The University broke into the top 10 of Intel's Top 100 Unwired
Colleges. Wireless computer access has emerged as a leading measure
of a college's technological quality, and St. John's was the only
New York university ranked among the top 10 "most unwired college
campuses" along with such other schools as Indiana University -
Bloomington, Purdue University, the University of Texas at Austin,
Case Western Reserve University, Dartmouth College, Carnegie Mellon
University, the University of Akron, Western Michigan University
and American University.
In order to maintain competitive in today's fast-paced,
high-tech learning environment, St. John's students will continue
to gain access to the latest advances in technology. And while
there's little in the way of predicting just what those advances
will be, if this past year's accomplishments are any indication, it
will certainly embody for students, administration, faculty and
alumni alike, something everyone can be proud of: a model of