Marshall University enables Internet2 access for West Virginia schools and other institutions

Special to HNN Provided by Marshall University

HUNTINGTON, W.Va., and ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Students and researchers across West Virginia can now have access to advanced online resources through Internet2, a national networking consortium that provides high-speed bandwidth to the research and education community across the country.

 Marshall University officials today announced the university, in cooperation with the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, has successfully sponsored the statewide West Virginia educational system under the aegis of The West Virginia Internet2 Consortium as the newest Internet2 Sponsored Education Group Participant (SEGP). This announcement makes West Virginia the 40th state to offer SEGP connections.

According to Dr. Jan I. Fox, senior vice president for information technology and chief information officer at Marshall, the SEGP sponsorship allows Marshall to share its existing connection to Internet2’s nationwide advanced research and education network with the state’s undergraduate higher education institutions, community and technical colleges, K-12 community, state and local governments, healthcare facilities, libraries and museums, and other partners.

Fox said those entities are typically not eligible or able to become Internet2 members themselves due to the size of their institution or the costs associated with individual access, but will now be able to use the network to expand global and local collaborations, from participating in “live” ocean voyages with famed oceanographer Bob Ballard through his JASON project to telemedicine and other advanced virtual health care applications.

“In rural states like West Virginia, Internet2 is the leveling agent that allows us to compete and collaborate globally while still remaining in our beautiful state,” she added.

The project was funded by a National Science Foundation grant (NSF) to West Virginia’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) for a comprehensive initiative to enhance cyberinfrastructure across the state’s higher education system. Last year, Marshall received $525,874 from the grant to enable inter-campus Internet2 Network access.

Internet2 is an advanced networking consortium led by the research and education community which currently connects nearly 70,000 research and educational institutions nationwide and interconnects 80 international research networks. Internet2 provides access to significant emerging technologies and advanced applications not available within the limitations of traditional networks while convening a community of thought leaders, users and innovators who collaborate to advance the frontiers of high-performance research and education networking. In early 2011, Internet2 extended its reach by establishing The United States Unified Community Anchor Network (U.S. UCAN) project dedicated to enabling Internet2 Network access for more schools, public libraries, public safety, health care organizations, and other community anchor institutions.  In support of the FCC National Broadband Plan, U.S. UCAN is envisioned to enable broadband access to 200,000+ community anchor institutions to serve their communities with next-generation advanced network applications.

“We extend a warm welcome to The West Virginia Internet2 Consortium in becoming the 40th Internet2 SEGP and applaud Marshall University for its sponsorship of the many West Virginia educational institutions now enabled for connection to Internet2. There is no clearer example of Higher Education technology innovation tangibly benefitting its surrounding community. It’s our hope that the state education system will very rapidly begin to experience the benefits Internet2 Network access and community involvement provides in driving next-generation educational delivery,” said Rob Vietzke, Internet2 executive director of Network Services.

An advisory group for The West Virginia Internet2 Consortium will oversee implementation of the West Virginia SEGP project. In addition to Fox, advisory group members include Dr. Jorea Marple, superintendent, West Virginia Department of Education; Dr. Paul Hill, vice chancellor for science and research, West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission/Council for Community and Technical College Education; Kay Goodwin, cabinet secretary, West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts; Keith Burdette, cabinet secretary, West Virginia Division of Commerce; Dan O’Hanlon, director, West Virginia Network for Educational Telecomputing (WVNET); Kyle Schafer, chief technology officer, West Virginia Office of Technology; and Lawrence Malone, project coordinator, West Virginia Telehealth Alliance.

Fox also acknowledged Marshall staff members who spearheaded the initiative, including Dr. Arnold R. Miller, assistant vice president for information technology; Allen Taylor, chief technology officer; and Michael Adkins, director of information technology infrastructure.

The West Virginia SEGP’s physical connection to Internet2 will be made through a partnership with the Ohio Academic Resources Network (OARnet), Ohio’s statewide research and education network.

The NSF grant for the project was funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. West Virginia EPSCoR is directed by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.

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