Randoph-Macon Woman’s College: Serious About Technology
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Travis Brown, MCSE, knows he could command top dollar
working for a major corporation. But what would he likely
see each time he stepped out of his office? A sea of faceless
cubicles. For Brown, the current view from his office
is much more appealing—the spectacular crest of south-central
Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.
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Woman’s College All-female
liberal arts college; 700 students
As network manager for Randolph-Macon Woman’s College
in Lynchburg, Brown feels lucky to work in an environment
where, besides the mountains, he daily takes in a panorama
of traditional red-brick campus buildings set on perfect
lawns. Yet beneath this idyllic setting you’ll find an
all-female liberal arts college that’s serious about staying
on IT’s leading edge. In fact, in May, Yahoo! Internet
Life magazine ranked Randolph-Macon 17th in its list
of 100 most-wired U.S. colleges—the school’s 1,300-node
Ethernet network serves 600 staff and faculty plus 700
students. This commitment to IT means that Randolph-Macon’s
11-member IT department and its responsibilities are never
an afterthought for school administrators.
“Randolph-Macon has a strong financial commitment to
IT,” says Brown. “The IT department receives recurring
funds each year, and we’re set up with the latest equipment.
For example, I have a fully loaded Dell OptiPlex desktop
running an 866MHz Pentium III, plus a Dell Latitude notebook
Adds Bob Wisler, Randolph-Macon’s IT director, “The college’s
strategic plan specifically spells out technology’s role
here. We’re not afraid to try new things, to use appropriate
technology to find solutions to challenges, such as creation
of the wireless classroom. And, we’re in the process of
migrating from Windows NT to Windows 2000.”
The school’s commitment extends to actively encouraging
its IT staffers to earn MCP status. While only Brown currently
holds Microsoft certification, two of his colleagues are
working toward their MCPs. Randolph-Macon pays all certification-associated
costs—training materials and classes, travel, time off
for training, exam fees—and publicly announces, via email
blasts, when an individual achieves certification. As
Brown has discovered, this support is “extremely important...
Maybe I took Randolph-Macon for granted until I heard
certification ‘horror stories’ from some friends” who
are now MCSEs—how they struggled with employers, paid
their own way, and took vacation time to attend classes.
“I realized then how lucky I am to be at Randolph-Macon.
Even though working for a college isn’t as financially
lucrative as working for a technology company, there are
intangible benefits. There’s a great sense of community
[here]. Everyone’s working toward the common goal of educating
the students.” Brown has been at Randolph-Macon for five
years, his longest employment tenure to date. Does he
plan to leave? “Not at all,” he says. “School administrators
respect the IT department and the knowledge we bring;
they support the work we do. Would I find that working
in a sterile skyscraper? I don’t know.”