February 13, 2003
Members will discuss S. 196, the Digital and Wireless Network Technology Program Act of 2003. Senator George Allen (R-VA) will preside.
Dr. Gerald Monette
STATEMENT OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN HIGHER EDUCATION CONSORTIUM DR. GERALD MONETTE PRESIDENT, TURTLE MOUNTAIN COMMUNITY COLLEGE CHAIRMAN, AIHEC COMMITTEE ON TECHNOLOGY AND INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT HEARING ON TECHNOLOGY INFRASTRUCTURES AT MINORITY SERVING INSTITUTIONS S. 196, THE DIGITAL AND WIRELESS NETWORK TECHNOLOGY PROGRAM ACT COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE UNITED STATES SENATE SR-253 February 13, 2003 Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me to testify today. My name is Dr. Gerald Monette. I am honored to be here as spokesperson for the American Indian Higher Education Consortium and as president of Turtle Mountain Community College, which is located in north-central North Dakota on the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Reservation. On behalf of this nation’s 34 Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), I want to express our strong support for S. 196, the Digital and Wireless Network Technology Program Act, sponsored by the Honorable George Allen (R-VA). We commend Senator Allen and his colleagues on the Committee – in particular, Senators Conrad Burns, Byron Dorgan, John McCain, and Daniel Inouye -- for their commitment to working with tribal colleges and universities as we strive for educational excellence and equality of access. For this afternoon’s hearing, I have organized my testimony in three parts: (1) brief history of the tribal college movement; (2) background on technology in Indian Country and strategies the tribal colleges have taken to bring new technological opportunities to our people; and (3) legislative recommendations for the Committee’s consideration. THE TRIBAL COLLEGE MOVEMENT: American Indian tribal colleges are young, geographically isolated, and poor. None of our institutions is more than 35 years old. Most are located on Indian reservations in the Great Plains, Southwest, and Great Lakes, in areas the federal government defines as ‘’frontier,” or extremely remote. Three of the five poorest counties in America are home to tribal colleges, where unemployment rates range from 50 to 75 percent. Most tribal colleges receive no state funding and little funding from our tribal governments. Our tribes are not the handful of wealthy gaming tribes located near major urban areas; rather, they are some of the poorest governments in the nation. And the federal government, despite its trust responsibility and treaty obligations, has, over the years, not considered funding of American Indian higher education a priority. For fiscal year 2004, the President’s budget, if enacted, would actually cut institutional operations for reservation-based tribal colleges to a level $4 million below the FY03 level. This would result in an appropriation of only about one-half of the authorized amount, or little more than $3,500 per full-time Indian student. That makes us the most poorly funded institutions of higher education in the country. Yet, each year we provide educational opportunity to 30,000 or more American Indian students, many of whom have no other access to higher education. We are increasing retention and attainment rates from Head Start to graduate school, strengthening tribal governments, creating jobs, developing reservation economies, and bringing the promise of technological access to rural America. TECHNOLOGY IN INDIAN COUNTRY: BARRIERS & SUCCESSES BARRIERS TO TECHNOLOGY We believe that technology will help tribal colleges and tribal communities overcome current inequities and could hold the key to our future success. To be sure, this country suffers a serious divide. It is a division based largely on income and location. But to tribal colleges, information technology represents a tremendous “digital opportunity.” Today, information technology is an integral part of teaching, learning, and research in higher education. Tribal colleges and other minority serving institutions, which are generally the nation’s poorest and most isolated institutions, have the most to gain -- or lose -- in this new technological revolution. We must, therefore, develop strategies to ensure that our institutions have adequate technology infrastructures and that our students, faculty, and communities have the capacity to use technology to expand their knowledge, improve their daily lives, and fully participate in this nation's prosperity. Tribal colleges are determined to move forward, and we have made remarkable progress, but barriers still exist. Most of our reservations lack basic infrastructure, and our colleges lack staff, hardware, and software that is taken for granted at most mainstream institutions. For example: · Telephones: Less than 50 percent of homes on reservations have telephones, compared to 95 percent nationally. · Home Computers: Less than 10 percent of American Indian households have computers, compared to about 50 percent of white Americans, 25.5 percent of Hispanics, and 23 percent of African Americans; · Home Internet Access: No more than 8 percent of all American Indian homes have access to the Internet; · Trained Technicians: Tribal colleges struggle to hire and retain technicians. Due to operational funding challenges, annual starting salaries for faculty can be as low as $21,000, or at least two times below industry averages. · Industry Partnerships: Tribal colleges have not yet established the kind of mutually beneficial relationships with key industries that lead to economic opportunity, relevant academic and training programs, and ultimately, prosperity. · TCU Connectivity: For adequate Internet-based data and information sharing, most universities require at least DS-3 connectivity. Only one tribal college currently has funding for DS-3 or higher, but I am proud to say that through a concerted effort, all tribal colleges, despite our remoteness and poverty, have achieved broadband Internet connectivity for our campuses, generally through multiple T-1 lines. This is a significant, though often underappreciated, achievement, and it is a tremendous change from just a few short years ago, when some tribal colleges had only one computer connected to the Internet through dial-up access! TCU SUCCESSES IN TECHNOLOGY Despite the challenges before us, many tribal college presidents and faculty believe that technology represents a tremendous “digital opportunity.” Just a few years ago, a group of us stared into the growing “digital divide” and decided to try to chart a new course. We embarked on a journey toward a “Circle of Prosperity,” a place where tribal traditions and new technologies are woven together to build stronger and more sustainable communities. Similar to Senator Allen’s technology and higher education efforts while Governor of Virginia, the tribal colleges developed a dynamic and broad-based strategic technology plan to guide our collective efforts. We call our plan the “Tribal College Framework for Community Technology,” a framework of strategic partnerships, resources, and tools that will help us create locally based economic and social opportunities through information technology and use of the Internet. Today, all of the tribal colleges are using technology to grow, meet our needs, serve our communities, and build a framework of opportunity for our children: Wireless Backbone Project: To provide high-speed connectivity to remote institutions and their satellite campuses (where fiber optic cables may never be cost effective), we are piloting state-of-the-art wide-band wireless backbone technology at four tribal colleges, including Turtle Mountain Community College. Through this innovative and cost-effective effort, the colleges are weaving a wireless web of connectivity around our reservations, connecting institution sites, tribal offices, and K-12 schools to one another and the Internet through a high-speed backbone running between the college and existing Internet access points or state university systems. Goals of this new technology use are to enable each TCU to acquire and sustain affordable high-speed broadband connectivity, and then to build a TCU access grid that will weave a common web around all of the colleges and Indian Country. At the same time, we will be establishing collaborative relationships with people and institutions worldwide. Distance Education: Through the Internet and other information technology applications, all but five tribal colleges offer technology-mediated education. An expanding ability to network with other colleges, universities, and tribal institutions is enabling the colleges to share knowledge beyond reservation boundaries and bring to their communities technology and information that can be transferred to support community and economic development. For example, Bay Mills Community College, located in a refurbished fish plant in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, is using technology and distance learning to deliver higher education to all 11 tribes in Michigan and to people in 17 other states, from Florida to Alaska. Virtual Library: Through our virtual library initiative – a partnership including AIHEC, the University of Michigan’s School of Information (see www.communitytechnology.org), IBM, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation -- the tribal colleges are beginning to develop an Internet-based library designed to enhance the meager library resources traditionally available in Indian Country. The virtual library, which uses open source software, has been installed at nearly every tribal college. Each college has a locally controlled library web site, which: (1) provides student and community access to local TCU library and curricula resources; and (2) interfaces with a much larger AIHEC virtual library data base of commonly-available and licensed resources (i.e. national and international education journals). Already, the virtual library has made a difference in the accreditation status of at least five tribal colleges. Last year, the National Science Foundation awarded AIHEC a planning grant to collaborate with NSF’s National Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology Education Digital Library community. Unfortunately, funding for the AIHEC virtual library will expire in June 2003. Without additional funding, this valuable resource may be forced to shut down. AN-MSI: Through a $6 million 4-year grant from the National Science Foundation to EDUCAUSE, AIHEC is partnering with other MSIs and the extensive EDUCAUSE network on the “Advanced Networking with Minority Serving Institutions” (AN-MSI) project. (www.anmsi.org) The project is designed to improve networking architecture; improve Internet connectivity in remote areas served by MSIs; assist college presidents and administrators in improving our knowledge of technology; and improve technical support through collaboration (i.e. remote technical support). Through AN-MSI’s limited funding, we have been able to achieve incredible results, including the above mentioned wireless project, largely because we have worked concertedly to develop a strong network of technical expertise within the tribal college system and because we leverage this funding to the maximum extent possible. A number of initiatives are currently underway, including vitally important information security support and education projects. However, AN-MSI’s funding is also set to expire this year. If additional funding is not secured for this project, the federal government’s only cross-community collaborative technology initiative for minority serving institutions will cease to exist. LEGISLATIVE RECOMMENDATIONS During the108th Congress, we will be pleased to work with Senator Allen and his colleagues to ensure that technological opportunities are within our reach. Enactment and funding of S. 196, the Digital and Wireless Network Technology Program Act, will represent significant steps forward in our efforts to develop and use technology in a manner consistent with our missions and tribal communities and, at the same time, in a manner that ultimately will advance national – and global – prosperity and expand the frontiers of knowledge. We are particularly pleased that Senator Allen’s legislation would house its important program within the National Science Foundation, an agency committed, in Director Dr. Rita Colwell’s words, to “enabling the nation’s future through discovery, learning, and innovation.” Although we strongly support S. 196, AIHEC would like to raise the following discussion points: 1. Purpose and Activities Supported: To avoid inconsistency and confusion in the bill’s implementation, we respectfully urge the Committee to carefully examine sections 2 and 3 of the bill to ensure that the language clearly reflects the sponsors’ intent. According to section 2, a primary purpose of the bill is to strengthen MSI capacity to provide instruction “in digital and wireless network technologies…” However, section 3 could be interpreted to permit funding of virtually any educational services, so long as the service is in preparation for any degree or certificate in any accredited program. We ask that the Committee consider narrowing this section to focus on education and training programs in emerging technologies, advanced networking, information and communications technology, or capacity building to succeed in this type of program of instruction. We would be happy to provide written recommendations, if the Committee desires. 2. “Indians into Technology” Program: We urge the committee to consider amending S. 196 to include a provision establishing an “Indians into Technology” program. This proposal is based on a similar and highly successful program created by Congress in the mid-1970s to help address the critical need for medical professionals from and working in Native communities. Through the innovative “Indians Into Medicine” (INMED) program, which began at the University of North Dakota-Grand Forks (http://www.med.und.nodak.edu/depts/inmed/), American Indian students receive vitally needed educational and personal support from elementary through professional school. INMED includes summer sessions for students from elementary school through college; junior and senior high school bridge programs; a tribal college bridge program; summer medical school preparation program for college juniors and seniors and recent graduates; and ongoing educational and personal support programs for medical and graduate school students. Because of similarities in demographics and need, a similar comprehensive education and support program could significantly impact efforts to develop and maintain an American Indian information technology workforce. Under our proposal, isolated and underfunded American Indian tribal colleges could address areas of critical need, including: o campus information technology infrastructure and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs; o educational and personal support for students from elementary through professional school, including summer sessions for students from elementary school through college; o junior and senior high school bridge programs; o higher level degree bridge programs; o summer school preparation programs; o ongoing educational and personal support programs for students. Goals of the program would be to: promote interest, enrichment, and exposure to careers in information technology; bolster participants' math and science abilities and build self-esteem; prepare college students for graduation from information technology degree programs; and significantly expand the American Indian IT workforce. 3. Remote Technical Support: Because the tribal colleges are small, underfunded and geographically remote, hiring, training, and retaining qualified information technology support staff is very difficult. We have very good people at our schools, but often, they need a little extra support and guidance. Targeted funding to encourage and sustain remote technical support, training cohort programs, and student-based IT technical support models such as the University of Wisconsin model could be very beneficial to all minority-serving institutions. 4. Strategic IT Planning: The need for ongoing strategic planning is paramount to any major initiative or institution. In this area, with technology rapidly evolving and new opportunities becoming available from all sectors, strategic planning for coordination and growth is essential. Specifically, planning needs to be focused on the unique nature and mission of institutions of higher education. Possible models include the AIHEC/AN-MSI/ITAA partnership currently underway to provide technical assistance to NSF-TCUP grantees. Working closely with experts from the tribal college and MSI communities, AIHEC and AN-MSI are sponsoring teams that will visit colleges to: (1) document, assess, and, if necessary, help improve current networking architecture; (2) increase awareness of technology trends and issues among college leadership and faculty; and (3) begin or expand the process of community-based IT strategic planning. Authorization and funding to expand this effort and ensure strategic IT would be a wise investment. 5. Opportunity Parity: An advantage to the breadth of S. 196’s language is that tribal colleges and other MSIs can compete for funding regardless of where they are on the “technology spectrum.” The language would appear to allow funding, regardless of whether the college is seeking basic connectivity or upgrading an existing system to build an access node. As new federally funded programs are developed, Congress should bear in mind the degree to which institutions vary and strive to make opportunities available to all. An institution should not be penalized because it currently lacks basic connectivity and e-mail service, but neither should an institution be excluded from participation because it made investments early, before dedicated funding existed, and now seeks upgrades or replacement for aging equipment. All programs must address this fundamental issue of “opportunity parity.” At the same time, the program should not be available to institutions that have crossed the “divide” into the mainstream world of Internet 2 connectivity, Research 1 status, comfortable endowments, and adequate public funding. Federal funding should be targeted at institutions that meet the spirit and letter of the law with respect to minority-serving status. Under S. 196’s current language, virtually any institution designated as minority serving, without regard to verifiability (except in the case of tribal colleges and universities) are eligible to compete in the program authorized in S. 196. If the Committee shares Senator Allen’s stated desire to “address the technology gap that exists at many minority serving institutions,” the legislation should be amended to exclude Research 1 institutions, institutions with significant endowments, institutions that are unable to sufficiently verify defined “minority” status, and institutions with proven track records of successful competition in NSF’s more complex programs. . For example, language could be added that would bar applications from institutions with endowments over a certain size, institutions with multiple NSF grants, or institutions with NSF grants totaling more than a pre-determined dollar amount. 6. E-rate Eligibility: The federally created E-rate program has been tremendously successful in bringing affordable telephone and Internet services to the nation’s K-12 schools. Just last month, the Bureau of Indian Affairs successfully completed connecting all of its schools to the Internet, and most, if not all, of these schools receive some level of E-rate funding. Currently, the program is not available to tribal colleges, despite the extensive work we do with our K-12 schools. We respectfully request that the Congress consider expanding the E-rate program to include tribal colleges. In closing, Mr. Chairman, I will reiterate that the tribal colleges are committed to working with the National Science Foundation and research institutions to move forward into a new age of discovery and knowledge. At the same time, we are committed to working with private industry to bring offshore jobs home to the United States. We are committed to revitalizing our communities and America’s economy through entrepreneurship. And we are committed to working with Senator Allen to build a bridge of technological opportunity across our vast nation. Thank you.
Honorable Floyd Flake
Testimony of the Reverend Dr. Floyd H. Flake President Wilberforce University Wilberforce Ohio S. 196 U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation February 13, 2003 Mr. Chairman, ranking member Hollings, members of the committee, I wish to thank you for the opportunity to address the Commerce Committee this afternoon on one of the pressing issues facing historically black colleges and universities (hbcu’s) today. I wish to extend my deep and abiding thanks to you and to Senator George Allen for your leadership on this issue in the Senate. Today’s subject is not only a problem facing students, faculty, and administrators at the nation’s minority serving institutions (msi’s). Technology deficits and limitations today are nothing if not a harbinger of a national crisis in education and commerce tomorrow. What is described by some as a digital divide is more like a gaping technological canyon that has far-reaching implications for communities across the nation. If this chasm is not closed, the nation will suffer in untold ways. Ultimately, our national competitiveness will be undermined. Mr. Chairman, in many ways, technology and its availability on the nation’s college campuses are a Dickensian tale of two cities, or rather two campuses. On some college campuses, technology is available at every turn. Wired buildings, equipped research laboratories, smart buildings, online registration, distance learning, smart cards, smart boards, and so many other tools of tomorrow are functional today. On these campuses, students are able to communicate internally and externally with seamless ease and functionality. The world has really become a classroom for these students. Further, faculties are able to utilize technology in research projects that significantly accrue to the benefit of students, academic programs, and this privileged class of universities in general. Even at an administrative level, these universities are better able to direct and track resources and to report to the federal government and philanthropic donors. All of these accumulated advantages mount up like a limitless advantage for some and an insurmountable disadvantage for others who are less prepared for modern collegiate needs. On other campuses, those on the other side of the technology canyon, particularly those serving minorities, there is an embarrassment of technological poverty. To borrow again from Dickens, these are the worst of technological times for some campuses and their students. They are the worst of times because technological tools are nominally available to everyone. In reality, students whose families often represent the proverbial “least of these” still find these tools out of their reach even on college campuses. S 196 will immediately level the playing field for more American students and close this canyon. It will allow more of the innate talents of students to shine without limitation as to where they matriculate or without respect to the socio-economic settings of their home communities. Indulge me for a moment as I describe the typical student at Wilberforce University. · Over 95% of the students at Wilberforce University are on financial aid. · An overwhelming majority of Wilberforce University students are the first in their family to go to college. · Students at Wilberforce are more likely to have attended urban high schools where the breadth and depth of the technological canyon are widest and deepest at the secondary level. · They are unlikely to come from a home that possesses a computer or is connected to the internet. Likewise, they come from communities that are also technologically underserved and under-invested. What does this mean in practical terms? It means that at every turn, at Wilberforce, despite our enormous success at placing students in competitive graduate programs and in viable professional settings upon graduation, we are constantly swimming upstream against a current of mitigating technological realities that could be overcome with significant infusions of capital in the areas of technology. It also means that there are multiple layers and complexities to this problem. At the University of Pennsylvania for example, Taylor Hamilton, a second semester freshman from Los Angeles, majors in Business management, studies in a new academic building that was recently completed to the tune of $140 million. In this facility, every study room, every inch of the building contemplates a wired and connected student existence. Taylor is only limited by his ability to imagine and realize his own potential. At the same time Taylor has access to the best that money can buy, James Parker, a freshman at Wilberforce University from North Philadelphia, majoring in Business Administration with a 3.74 grade point average in his second semester, with the same research needs, the same desire to succeed as Taylor, is limited despite the fact that he is the first person in his family to attend college. Taylor and James are both African American, but the technological realities confronting them are markedly different solely based upon where they chose to attend college. The difference is that James’ limitations are beyond his control and even beyond the ability of a small liberal arts college with a small endowment. James is not limited by his industry, drive, or desire. Rather, he is short circuited by routers and servers and bandwidth forced to operate beyond their capacity. He is held in the technological past by antiquated software and hardware. Grants that take into consideration the development of students, faculty, creative collaborative projects that enrich educational experiences, and that modernize the enterprise functions of minority serving institutions will go a great length toward increasing our national competitiveness by enabling needy students like James Parker. Not only James Parker, but the Diamond Morgans, Joy Kirks, and thousands of other students who are now straddling the nation’s higher education technology canyon. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, the thousands of students like James Parker implore you to look favorably upon this invaluable measure. I look forward to working with you and many of my former colleagues in any way that you might desire to ensure that we mutually empower the future of deserving students and their communities across the nation.
Dr. William DeLauder
Testimony Of William B. DeLauder President Delaware State University Before The U. S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Hearing on S. 196, The Digital and Wireless Network Technology Program Act of 2003. Thursday, February 13, 2003; 2:30 p.m. Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, ladies and gentlemen, my name is William B. DeLauder, president of Delaware State University (DSU) in Dover, Delaware. I thank the Chairman for giving me this opportunity to come before you to speak on the importance of technology on the nation’s historically black colleges and universities. I commend the sponsors of Senate Bill 196, a bill to establish a digital and wireless network technology grant program for minority serving institutions. If approved and funded, this bill will provide needed funding to bridge the digital divide that exists between many minority serving institutions and majority institutions. I speak to you today on behalf of my university, Delaware State University, and on behalf of NAFEO, the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education. Delaware State University, founded in 1891 as a direct result of the Second Morrill Act, is one of the 17 historically Black land-grant universities within the United States. We serve approximately 3300 students in programs at the baccalaureate and masters levels. Our degree programs include the traditional arts and science disciplines and degree programs in agriculture, business, education, social work, airway science, and nursing. As you probably know, NAFEO is the higher educational association that includes and represents the historically and predominately Black colleges and universities. One third of all African Americans with undergraduate degrees earned them from a historically Black college and university (HBCU). So it can be unequivocally said that HBCU’s are providing immeasurable and invaluable service to the educational strength, growth and vitality of our nation. Our nation has become, and rightfully so, immersed with technology. Its presence is inescapable in virtually everything we do of substance. It is present in our workplaces, our supermarkets, our malls, our libraries and in our homes for those who are fortunate to have the resources to invest in the advantages technology provides in our everyday existence. This generation of students is the high technology generation. They enter college more technologically literate than previous generations. Their expectations are that technology will be extensively utilized in all aspects of college life. They make decisions about which college to attend, in part, on the technological capability of a given college or university. To be competitive in the recruitment of top students, HBCUs must possess the technology infrastructure and the expertise to fully utilize technology in teaching and learning and in administrative operations. Students who enter HBCU’s think critically, have a budding desire to engage in cutting edge research and have a commitment to academic excellence. Our institutions can do no less than to maintain their enthusiasm for learning. Our institutions understand and appreciate the obligation to prepare students for productive lives, to contribute to society and make a difference in their communities. The mission of the majority of the nation’s historically black colleges and universities is teaching, research and public service. An infusion of state-of-the-art technology at these institutions would significantly and dramatically increase their ability to prepare students for success in an ever-increasing global society. Delaware State University developed a technology plan in the late 80’s. This plan is a part of the University’s strategic plan that is updated annually. The University’s Strategic Plan includes goals and objectives on the use of technology. The goals include enhancing the quality and efficiency of operations and services, improving teaching and learning, and improving communications both within and outside of the campus. As a result of planning, setting priorities, and acquiring needed resources; Delaware State University has had measurable success in efforts to expand the knowledge, skills and experiences of faculty, students, and staff with our information technology infrastructure. The University is committed to raising the level of technology to its highest standard in keeping with its own agenda and the availability of funding. Delaware State University installed a fiber optics network connecting all academic and administrative buildings on campus in 1990-91. During the next several years, work progressed in connecting all dormitories to the campus network. The time lag in developing the network was due to delays in acquiring the needed funds to complete the connections. The University’s Library was computerized in the late 80’s and computerized literature and information technology began to be an important component of the library’s resources. DSU began to develop a distance education program in 1997-98. The University provides workshops and a dedicated workroom for faculty who desire to develop distance learning courses. In Spring 2003, 86 web-enhanced courses are being offered by 31 faculty members with a total of 1184 students. With additional resources, the University desires to expand the number of web-enhanced courses and to begin developing and offering on-line courses in selected disciplines. The use of technology holds tremendous promise at DSU and other HBCU’s. For example, the move from need to merit based funding at public institutions require that even more resources be allocated to advising and retention services. We believe technology can be employed creatively to generate more and higher quality services with faculty previously assigned to other tasks. As a result, we will expand the student-centered nature of our university and enhance the instructional quality of our programs. Moreover, we believe the administrative efficiency of our institutions can be increased with more targeted applications of technology, shared functionality, and cooperative services using technologies and communications systems. Technology also will enable Delaware State and other HBCU’s to create realistic environments for students to learn to compete in the worlds outside their respective campuses. In a very real way, I believe technology will truly increase our ability to provide quality education for a diverse student body, training and development for dedicated faculty and improved community outreach services through sophisticated transfer networks. With regard to Senate Bill, I offer the following comments: (1) It should be made clear to the Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) that the Senate expects that representatives from HBCUs will be extensively involved on the Advisory Council required by Section 4 (b) of the Bill. (2) It is important to retain the exemption for matching funds for institutions with no or small endowments (Section 5) because this will facilitate the involvement of institutions with modest resources. These will also be the institutions that have the greatest need for improving their technology infrastructure. (3) It is important to involve representatives of the HBCU community in the peer review process used in rating proposals. This will ensure fairness in the review process. I again commend the sponsors of this significant legislation and I thank the Chairman and the Committee for this opportunity to appear at this hearing.
Dr. Marie McDemmond
This testimony is unavailable at this time.
Dr. Ricardo Fernandez
February 13, 2003 Thursday PREPARED TESTIMONY OF RICARDO FERNANDEZ PRESIDENT, HERBERT H. LEHMAN COLLEGE CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK BEFORE THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE AND TRANSPORTATION SUBJECT - S.196, THE DIGITAL AND WIRELESS NETWORK TECHNOLOGY PROGRAM ACT Good afternoon Senator McCain and Distinguished Members of the Committee. I am honored to testify on behalf of HACU and the Hispanic higher education community in support of S. 196, the Digital and Wireless Network Technology Program Act. My name is Ricardo R. Fernandez and this is my thirteenth year as President of Herbert H. Lehman College of the City University of New York System. Lehman College is a four- year comprehensive public institution, which is located in Bronx County, New York. I am the Vice Chair/Chair-elect of the Board of the American Association of Higher Education (AAHE) and Chair of the Hispanic Educational Telecommunications System, (HETS), a consortium of eighteen Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) engaged in distance education. I am also a past Chair and current Board member of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU). HSIs are fast becoming an important national resource for the education of Hispanics and other minority groups in the nation. Half of all Latino students engaged in higher education attend HSIs. In urban areas across the country, HSIs also educate a significant percentage of African-American students. In my own institution, 44 percent of the students are Latinos, while 33 percent are AfricanAmericans and Black students from the Caribbean Islands. Therefore, any programs that assist such HSIs will also benefit other minority group members attending such institutions. It is well known that the Latino population has rapidly expanded to become the largest minority group in absolute numbers in the nation. The number of Hispanic Serving Institutions is expected to grow proportionately over the next five to ten years. Our nation and economy will demand that Latinos be educated and trained in the latest technological innovations in telecommunications and biotechnology, among others. The skills necessary to function in these areas as well as to become productive members of our economy and assume leadership roles in our society can only be provided through higher education. The proposed bill S. 196, as written, would serve to provide MinorityServing Institutions (MSIs), including HSIs, with important and urgently needed resources to meet the quality demands in educational training required in our technological driven economy. Many Latino students come to our institutions with barriers such as low income and family obligations. A great number of Latinos are first-generation college students. At Lehman College, for example, 51 percent of our students are the first in their family to attend college. Twenty-five percent of them have parents with an 8th grade education or less, and 58 percent have household incomes of less than $30,000. In urban areas where housing is not affordable, additional pressures are placed on students to make financial contributions to their households. At Lehman College, 55 percent of our student body works at least 20 hours or more. A recent study from the Pew Hispanic Center revealed that although Latino students are attending college proportionately to the population, they are not completing college at an appropriate rate. There are many impediments that make it difficult for Latino students to persist in college and to graduate. Some could be addressed by providing opportunities to study without being physically in classroom for a full program. Distance education can assist in fulfilling this gap. To be sure, more can and should be done to incorporate asynchronous modalities into college courses and assignments. While in school, students must learn how to use the technological resources available in our society. These include tools such as portals and the manipulation of information and data provided through the Internet. Too often, educational institutions lack the appropriate network capabilities to expose students to the power of the Internet or to teach them how to access information with these new modalities. In addition, current fiscal conditions in many states across the nation make it impossible for institutions of higher education to receive the resources necessary to provide these modalities. At my own institution we are still struggling to provide access to the network to students and faculty. Providing fiber and copper cabling, switches and routers to every building and classroom is simply cost prohibitive. Through grants and special capital allocations, we have been able to PrOvide Internet access to faculty and students at the campus Library and at our Information Technology Center. We have several "smart classrooms," that is, classrooms equipped with voice, data and video connectivity for video presentation and video conferencing. However, these classrooms are too few to have a significant impact on large numbers of students. Wireless networking is a relatively low-cost means of providing access to the Internet to students, faculty and also to surrounding communities. At Lehman College we have begun a limited project to provide campus-wide access to the network through wireless technology. Currently we have a dozen access points deployed throughout the campus to provide students with Internet access. These include the Student Cafeteria, the Library and three classrooms. This was accomplished through specialized funding and grants. However, we would need approximately one hundred access points through our 37-acre campus in order to have a "true wireless network" for our students. At the pace that we are moving, the technology may well be obsolete before the project is finished. One useful resource has been the Advanced Network for Minority Serving Institutions (AN-MSI) Project. This is an NSF-funded grant managed by EDUCAUSE, serving 100 institutions, all designated as HBCUs, HSIs and Tribal Colleges. Lehman College is part of this network and is benefiting, along with the two CUNY community colleges in The Bronx. Projects such as the ANMSI have attempted to address the concerns of MSis as they seek to develop and expand their networking capabilities. This bill S-196 represents hope for institutions such as ours to provide students with the necessary technological skills needed in today's economy. In addition, the opportunity to expand collaborations with schools through teacher training programs, means those schools will have teachers trained in the latest modalities in order to incorporate the use of technology in school curricula. At Lehman a FIPSE grant has enabled the Division of Education to develop an infrastructure of Local Area Networks (LANs) to incorporate educational technology into their teacher and counselor education training program. The three wireless classrooms I referred to earlier are in this program. As a next step we plan to develop wireless classrooms at two local elementary schools to facilitate teacher training and professional development. Through several projects we are already involved with every school district and dozens of schools in the borough. We have a Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR-UP) grant which has enabled us to provide computers (and training on how to use them to gain access to the internet) to hundreds of students and their parents. We also have an initiative called the Bronx Information Network (BIN), which is a consortium of 70 educational and health community-based organizations focused on the cooperative use of technology. As the funding for this project has come to an end, the member organizations are not able to afford paying for access to the Internet. This bill opens up great possibilities for Lehman College and like institutions to continue working with their surrounding communities. One concrete example lies in the fact that many colleges and universities operate Small Business Development Centers. By expanding the technological capacity of their operations these SBDCs could reach a wider segment of the small business owners and to help make in the application of technology to make their business ventures more efficient and profitable. Continuing professional training for health care workers who need to upgrade their skills can be provided conveniently at their place of work or at home through asynchronous modalities. These are just a few concrete examples of the specific needs that institutions of higher education can address with the funds that S-196 would provide. There is one final point that I would like to make. Section 5 of S-196 allows a waiver of the matching requirement for institutions with no endowment or with an endowment of less than $50,000,000 in current value. This is vital for most minority institutions. Most MSIs have small endowments and many have no endowments at all. Without a waiver of this provision, they would be effectively foreclosed from taking advantage of the funding opportunities provided for in this bill. I urge you to keep this provision. I am very much encouraged by the Senate's recognition of the need for Minority-Serving Institutions to expand their digital and wireless network capabilities and that policy makers are considering a bill that addresses this need directly. I applaud the leadership of Senators Allen, Chairman McCain and the many co-sponsors of this critically important bill. OVERVIEW The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) represents more than 340 colleges and universities in the United States, including more than 200 Hispanic-Serving Institutions, or HSIs - including Herbert H. Lehman College of the City University of New York. HACU-member institutions collectively enroll more than two- thirds of the 1.6 million Hispanics in higher education today, as well as countless non-Hispanics who enrich the diversity of their fast- growing campus communities. S. 196 will directly address the widening Information Technology divide in American higher education by targeting urgently needed new funds directly to HSIs and other Minority-Serving Institutions. New national security priorities and a fast-changing global economy now demanding a more highly educated workforce requires the expedient elimination of the digital divide between minority and non-minority populations in our country, particularly on our college campuses. Underscoring this national imperative is our country's rapidly changing demographics, overwhelmingly impacted by Hispanic American communities representing the nation's youngest, largest and still fastest-growing ethnic population. S. 196 directly addresses this challenge. INFRASTRUCTURE, EQUIPMENT AND CAPABILITIES S. 196 would provide $250 million in National Science Foundation grants in each year over a fiveyear period to Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) and other Minority-Serving Institutions to substantially enhance their technology infrastructure, programs and training to bridge the digital divide. That S. 196 specifically identifies Minority-Serving Institutions as eligible recipients of S. 196 funding is testament to the intent of this Act to reap the greatest benefits for each dollar invested in those institutions with the strongest expertise and widest reach to the "have-nots" of the digital divides. An overriding goal of HACU and HSIs is to increase the numbers of Hispanic college graduates with advanced skills in every discipline in which Hispanics now are underrepresented. S. 196 promises not only to narrow the technology training gap, but also to ultimately increase college completion rates overall by providing Minority-Serving Institutions the tools they need to enhance pre-collegiate and on- campus student success. HSIs receive less federal funding on average per student compared to all other degree-granting institutions. Because of the persistent per- student funding disparities suffered by HSIs, these institutions -- and the students, future K-12 teachers and larger communities served by these HSIs --clearly stand to benefit from S. 196 investments in infrastructure, equipment and capabilities. Most HSIs are located in major, urban areas of the country with a comparatively higher concentration of poverty and subsequently lower average tax base. Thus, these HSIs cannot depend on local dollars to adequately address the digital divide. Moreover, state support for higher education has been declining on a per-student basis in almost every region of the country. Because the mission of these HSIs is to promote higher education access to a population that suffers historically high poverty rates, most HSIs have declined to increase their tuition and fee formulas. HSIs are thus compelled to rely on the few federal resources now available to them. S. 196 provides HSIs and other Minority-Serving Institutions a much-needed increase in federal dollars. FACULTY DEVELOPMENT S. 196 will allow HSIs and other Minority-Serving Institutions to seek grants, contracts or cooperative agreements to "develop and provide educational services, including faculty development, to prepare students or faculty seeking a degree or certificate that is approved by the State, or a regional accrediting body recognized by the Secretary of Education." Increasing the ranks of Hispanic and other minority teachers is of paramount importance, not only to higher education institutions but also to the nation's public schools. HSIs already award approximately 50 percent of all teacher education degrees earned by Hispanic higher education students. However, because of a lack of funding for teacher education at HSIs, the shortage of Hispanic teachers is acute. While 14 percent of the elementary and secondary education student population is Hispanic, only 4.3 percent of public school teachers are Hispanic, according to the U.S. Census Bureau Digest of Education Statistics for 1998 and 1999. In higher education, only 2.4 percent of all full-time faculty members are Hispanic (IPEDS, 1997). Hispanics now earn master's, doctoral and professional degrees at the rate of 2.4 percent among the adult population -- compared to 6.0 percent for non-Hispanics. Hence, the numbers of Hispanics attaining advanced degrees must more than double to achieve parity. Yet, only 20 percent of HSIs offer a master's degree. Less than 12 percent of HSIs offer a doctoral degree. S. 196 directly addresses the need to increase the capabilities of HSIs to produce more teachers with advanced degrees. TECHNOLOGY IN THE CLASSROOM S. 196 will allow HSIs and other Minority-Serving Institutions to seek grants, contracts or cooperative agreements to "provide teacher education, library and media specialist training and preschool and teacher aid certification to individuals who seek to acquire or enhance technology skills in order to use technology in the classroom or instructional process." Enhancing teacher education, classroom technology use and instructional skills will focus on expanding the only means of technology access for many of the youngest of the "have-nots" of the digital divide. A survey on computer access released September 5, 2001, by the U.S. Census Bureau reports that while only 33.7 percent of Hispanic households own a computer, 70 percent of the nation's Hispanic students have computer access at school. The long experience and proven expertise of HSIs in addressing minority public school and community needs makes these institutions a vital partner in efforts to enhance teacher technology training, classroom and instructional skills. S. 196 capitalizes on the geographic proximity, crosscultural understanding and existing community outreach of Minority-Serving Institutions by inviting their active participation in new technology initiatives in the nation's public schools. TECHNOLOGY PARTNERSHIPS S. 196 will allow HSIs and other Minority-Serving Institutions to seek grants, contracts or cooperative agreements to "implement a joint project to provide education regarding technology in the classroom with a state or state educational agency, local education agency, community-based organization, national nonprofit organization, or business, including minority business or a business located in HUB zones, as defined by the Small Business Administration. " Joint projects and partnerships to comprehensively address classroom technology needs are a practical, effective means to meet the technology needs of the nation's larger minority communities. This component of S. 196 encourages inclusiveness and the establishment of a wide base of community support and expertise. HSIs, historically hampered by funding disparities, have come to depend on the combined strengths and added resources of such partnerships to successfully address issues ranging from adult workforce development and lifelong learning to pre-collegiate preparatory programs. HSIs and other Minority-Serving Institutions already have established the foundation for forming effective partnerships to address technology disparities. S. 196 provides the funding and infrastructure support to capitalizes on the proven effectiveness of such partnership approaches in addressing the digital divide. LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT S. 196 also will allow HSIs and other Minority-Serving Institutions to "provide leadership development to administrators, board members and faculty of eligible institutions with institutional responsibility for technology education." Historically under-funded HSIs can readily benefit from this investment in support of those leaders who are charged with the strategic direction and supervision of efforts to enhance technology infrastructure, training and outreach. HSIs and other Minority-Serving Institutions recognize the critical role of leadership development in efforts to close the digital divide. For example, the Advanced Networking with Minority-Serving Institutions (AN-MSi) project includes a focus on assisting campus leadership in information technology training. AN-MSI is the result of a National Science Foundation grant to EDUCAUSE, a consolidation of the former CAUSE and Educom higher educational technology associations. A subaward was made to the Education, Outreach and training Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (EOT- PACI). EDUCAUSE established partnerships with HACU, the American Indian Higher Education Consortium and other associations and councils representing Minority-Serving Institutions. Leadership development aspects of this ongoing project have included the involvement of administrators of HSIs and other Minority-Serving Institutions at Seminars on Academic Computing and a recent Technology Summit. The inclusion of leadership development in S. 196 is another example of the Act's potential for success by strategically addressing the nation's digital divide on so many fronts -- from enhancing teacher skills in the classroom to supporting administrative leadership development on the college campus. CONCLUSION Clearly, HSIs and other Minority-Serving Institutions have the expertise, proximity and commitment to their students and communities to provide front-line leadership and support in the effort to close the information technology gap. However, these institutions cannot succeed without the support of Congress and its endorsement of a substantial investment in federal dollars. S. 196 proposes a comprehensive approach to aggressively address the digital divide, targeting potential funding to those higher education institutions serving the largest concentrations of minority higher education students in those communities with the fastest-growing minority populations. S. 196 is a strategically sound, cost-effective response to a challenge the nation can no longer afford to leave unanswered. The digital divide is not an empty buzzword, but an unfortunate reality in our nation. While all sectors of society are acquiring greater access to information technology and connectivity to the Internet, the gap between the better educated and those behind them is widening each year -- not only in qualitative terms, but quantifiably as well. The U.S. Department of Commerce series of reports -- "Falling Through the Net," released in 2000, and "A Nation Online: How Americans Are Expanding Their Use of the Internet," released in 2001 -document the divide between Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites and the nation as a whole. The 2000 report, the last reporting on household Information Technology (IT) use, tells us that more than one half of U.S. households have computers and more than four of every ten have Internet access. For Hispanic households, the numbers are only one- third and about two of every ten, respectively. This same report documents that in 2000, Hispanics made almost 27 percent less individual use of the Internet than non-Hispanic whites. In the latest 2001 report, the gap grew to more than 28 percent. While computer and Internet access is slowly increasing for Hispanics, the digital divide between them and the rest of the nation's population is becoming wider. Examining individual Internet use by age groups enables us to look at the traditional college-age population. In the 2000 report, Hispanics were 32.6 percentage points behind their non-Hispanic white counterparts (65 percent). The 2001 report, focusing on 18-24 year- olds actually in school or college, documents that Hispanics are about 20 percent less likely than non-Hispanic whites to have a home computer and almost 25 percent less likely to use the Internet at home. This reports highlights the critical importance of this bill and the urgency of supporting our HSIs, because the gap between Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites lessens to 15 percent when one considers outside home use, which for these students overwhelmingly means school or college. The 15 percent gap is still large, but it is a sign of progress in the right direction. Similar patterns exist for Hispanics ages 3 to 17 years. The 2000 report shows substantially large gaps between non-Hispanic whites and Hispanics overall. The latest 2001 report underlines that Congressional action is necessary to bridge the widening digital divide for our youth by increasing their access to technology in the school setting. HSIs are the most important national resource for the education and training of Hispanics and other disadvantaged students across the nation. This fact will only be magnified in the years ahead as the Hispanic population continues to grow faster than any other ethnic community in the country and reaffirms its crucial role in the economic and public life of the nation. Already, Hispanics make up the fastest-growing segment of the college-age population in this country. HSIs must be strengthened and expanded proportionate to the rapid growth of the populations they serve, so that our national economic prosperity and social structures are also strengthened. One of every three new workers joining the national work force today is Hispanic, and this will increase to one of every two workers before the year 2050, according to projections by the U.S. Department of Labor. The changing nature of our economy demands that underserved and underrepresented but fastgrowing populations be educated and trained at increasingly higher levels for the jobs and leadership roles of the "new economy." Notwithstanding the recent bursting of the dot-com bubble, the hightechnology sector continues to expand at the speed of human creativity. Thus, information technologies, telecommunications, and biotechnology, among others, require increasing numbers of workers with very high skills and advanced knowledge that only a quality higher education can provide. S. 196 presents great opportunities for the U.S. Congress and the President to ensure that future generations of Hispanics and other disadvantaged populations do not remain stagnated at the bottom of America's educational ladder. We urge Distinguished Members of this Committee to support S. 196. Too much is at stake for our economy and for our national security to ignore this critical opportunity to provide our colleges and universities the tools they need to begin closing the digital divide.