Dr. Ahmed El-Haggan (center), holding the 2005 Education All-Star Award, surrounded by Coppin State University IT team members; front row, left to right, Robert Reddish, Mitchell Prevatte, Dr. Ahmed El-Haggan, Mohammed Ahmed, Michael Fleming; back row, left, Thomas Smith and Claude Rader.
By Henry Hurst
(BALTIMORE 12/1/05)—After gaining national notoriety for its stellar advances in Information Technology (IT), Coppin State University has now received worldwide recognition for its extraordinary strides in IT as one of 50 companies and one of only five universities worldwide to receive the "Education All-Star Award" from Network World magazine.
Network World, a worldwide publication, honored Coppin State in its November 21, 2005 special edition of the “Signature Series Enterprise All-Star Issue” for its groundbreaking developments in communication and education technology. Other institutions were featured for outstanding health care, government, financial services, and transportation, among others.
In receiving the Education All-Stars honor, Coppin State joins only five other universities and two school districts to receive the recognition. They are: Arizona State University, Clark County School district, Philadelphia School district, University of Arkansas, University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine, and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
Selected by a project committee of 13 judges, Coppin and other universities were chosen for its exceptional use of technology within several industry segments. The award also demonstrates an effective and economically wise choice in IT projects, showing how the intelligent use of technology translates into smart business management.
According to Network World, All-Star winners reported savings are expected to bank $161.5 million collectively from their projects one year after implementation, and $469.4 million by the third year.
In addition, winning projects were not required to be budgeted highly to earn a place on this prestigious list. Budgets ranging from $30,000 to $32 million made the cut, which Dr. Ahmed El-Haggan, Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer at Coppin State University, feels is all the more gratifying.
"Winning this and other awards lets us know that we are on the right track," said Dr. El-Haggan. "Compared to other universities, we spent a modest $1.5 million on our entire converged IP (Internet Protocol) infrastructure that supports all of our communication services that are on one network – video, voice and data. Our campus-wide wireless LAN (WLAN) supports indoor and outdoor mobile access. What’s unique about our network is that it’s a very secure, but open environment."
The Enterprise All-Star series gleans its name from the first major league All-Star game hosted by Chicago's Comiskey Park in 1933, showcasing the talents of such baseball greats as Charlie Gehringer and Babe Ruth. In this sense, Network World has created the Enterprise All-Star series to honor companies with technologyprojects that are so outstanding “they belong in a league of their own. “The 50 enterprise All-Stars have network projects so stellar they are examples for all,” as stated in the Network World article.
However, Dr. El-Haggan maintains that this most recent acknowledgement is the result of years of applied research and labor. In 2002, Coppin State developed a strategic vision to address the challenges of a deteriorating infrastructure and the need for a competitive edge.
The comprehensive project started with a new cable plant infrastructure for academic buildings, the university library, and student union then moved to renew the whole campus cabling plant; Voice over IP (VoIP) enabled PBX and 600 VoIP phones; remote buildings connected to the main campus via wireless for voice, data, and e-mail; unified messaging services; smart classrooms and instructional technology software; and a sophisticated threat protection system. Coppin also uses Ethernet Routing Switches, switched firewalls, VPN gateway, SSL VPN with Tunnel Guard, application switches and CallPilot for unified messaging in which all products are provided by Nortel.
"Our network transformation has helped to boost our enrollment and obtain grants and financial support from different sources," said Dr. El-Haggan.
Coppin’s Education All-Star title comes only a month after being cited in the October 17 edition of U.S. News & World Report as no. 19 on a list of the top 50 college and universities throughout the nation with absolute wireless capability.
Under Dr. El-Haggan’s leadership, IT has gone to a new technology plateau. In addition to being the first school in the University System of Maryland (USM) to go wireless campus-wide, IT is trailblazing paths on a number of other fronts.
Coppin was recently recognized for its technology in August when the 105-year old institution was selected by EDUCAUSE to receive the non-profit organization’s prestigious Award for Excellence in Networking: Innovation in Network Technology, Services, and Management. Coppin’s selection marks the first time a school in Maryland has received the award. Coppin is also the first HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) to be honored with the recognition.
The EDUCAUSE annual awards recognize exemplary achievement in six areas of higher education information technology: leadership, professional writing, administrative information systems, information technology solutions, networking, and teaching and learning. Coppin along with the other winners of the 2005 awards were honored in Orlando, Florida at the association’s annual conference held in October. Coppin’s partnership with Nortel Networks Inc. and its implementation of Nortel’s award winning product support and guidance helped enable such national recognition.
"Nortel, one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world, invested heavily at Coppin," said Dr. El-Haggan. "Nortel believes in our mission. Without our partnership with Nortel, we wouldn’t have achieved such excellence."
Coppin has also pioneered the use of Tegrity Campus, which combines digital audio and video recording of the class lecture with electronic note-taking and computer usage. The software provides 24-hour access to the recorded classroom experience. As a literal learning tool, the Tegrity pen uses camera technology on its tip. Tegrity digital pen allows students to digitally record handwritten notes taken during class and automatically synchronize it with the recorded lecture. Later, the students can replay the entire lecture online while viewing their notes exactly as written in their notebooks, or they can select any notation to replay that part of the lecture.
"It’s not just my [IT] department, it’s the entire campus," said Dr. El-Haggan. "This reflects the dedication of students, faculty, and staff. Technology means nothing if it doesn’t serve the mission of the campus. Smart business requires smart technology."
To read the Network World article, please visit www.networkworld.com/allstar/2005.
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