Greetings Skidmore College Community,

Here we are, beginning another academic school year. The Skidmore College Class of 2013 has just begun their journey with us and the class of 2010 is ramping up for their senior year. As I reflect on my time here at Skidmore, I find it hard to believe that I've been here longer than the current senior class. What this reiterates for me is that we are living in times of continual change.

In the world of technology, not only are we changing, but we are doing so at a faster and faster clip. Whether it's the speed of computers and networks, or the storage that can be achieved in devices as small as your fingernail, it is clear that technology is not standing still by any means. The exponential growth of computing articulated in Moore's Law is being lived in many, many ways across the entire IT landscape. It’s our job to understand this change and do our absolute best to apply it when and where appropriate for the faculty, staff, and especially students, of Skidmore College. We are doing this in so many ways I can’t draw attention to all of them. However, it certainly holds true in our evaluation of the next email and calendaring systems to be used by the college. When the class of 2010 arrived on our campus almost no one in mainstream higher education was envisioning letting go of services like email and allowing them to exist in “the cloud,” but now numerous schools are partnering with Microsoft or Google to do just this. In the 2008 Campus Computing Survey over 42% of US colleges and universities reported that they already had, or were in the middle of moving student e-mail services from campus owned and managed infrastructures to cloud based services. It is very likely that our class of 2010 will be using the new e-mail architecture before they leave less than twelve months from now, despite the fact that it wasn’t on any of our radars when they arrived three years ago. This example talks about significant change within the students’ four years with us, however, we are not too far from similar changes taking place over an academic year, or dare I suggest across a single semester. The pace of change will not be slowing down.

Another aspect of change, or potential change, I’d like to draw your attention to is a planning grant the college is participating in with Bard, Colgate, Hamilton, Union, and Vassar. It’s from the Teagle Foundation and is focused on investigating the utility of High-Performance Computing capabilities at six small liberal arts colleges. Our faculty has, and will continue, to receive e-mails from me for workshops this fall that will bring together interested faculty from the six schools to explore this in greater depth. The ultimate goal is to determine the value and feasibility of HPC as part of a robust cyber-infrastructure at schools like ours. If you would like to know more, please reach out to me.

So as we continue to move forward on multiple fronts, I wish everyone an enjoyable fall semester with the technology advances being significant and the failures almost invisible (at least to you).


- Justin Sipher, Chief Technology Officer

 


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