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The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has awarded Tuskegee University $3.5 million as part of the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program (CMC). Tuskegee is one of 93 universities and 43 HBCUs receiving support to expand community technology hubs, upgrade classroom technology and increase digital literacy. The NTIA awarded $175 million to colleges and universities in 29 states and four territories.
“This award aligns perfectly with one of Tuskegee’s Strategic Plan goals to upgrade the technological infrastructure to facilitate online and in-person instruction and distance education programs,” said Dr. Charlotte P. Morris, president of Tuskegee University. “As we position ourselves to continue to attract and retain the best and brightest students interested in STEM and other programs, this technological upgrade provides the needed support for groundwork that ensures our competitiveness and the tools our students need for a rich learning environment.”
Tuskegee University’s “ConnecTUvity: Anchoring the Future of Tuskegee with Broadband Technology” project aims to upgrade the campus fiber backbone, wireless networks and upgrade audio-visual equipment in learning spaces to ensure that it supports the needs of the campus and students.
The project activities will upgrade the Tuskegee University fiber optic network and classroom cabling; enhance the cybersecurity posture at the university by expanding policies, user awareness, and training curriculum offered to faculty, staff, and students; equip STEM and nursing disciplines with technological equipment; and increase the number of Hyflex learning spaces to support hybrid instruction.
“Access to affordable, reliable, high-speed Internet service is necessary for minority students and local communities to fully access school, healthcare, and jobs,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “The Department of Commerce has made significant investment into minority-serving colleges and universities, and I am proud to say that all funding from the Connecting Minority Communities program has been distributed to help make Internet connectivity a reality for tens of thousands of students at minority-serving colleges and universities across the country.”
Chief Information Officer Abraham George said this federal support allows Tuskegee to accelerate its efforts to complete the installation of 111,500 linear feet or 21.17 miles of new fiber optic cables connecting 78 buildings on campus to the recently upgraded networking equipment, the installation of over 1,200 wireless access points throughout the campus — including student housing, academic facilities, and administrative facilities to improve connectivity for all users throughout the campus.
“Upgrading our fiber backbone and wireless network ensures our students are able to receive seamless instruction on or off campus,” said George. “A campus with this rich history is now able to hard turn toward state-of-the-art instruction that our students require. This is a game-changer and will have a long-lasting impact on our students and their learning experience.”
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