TecHub and TechStation Earn National Innovation Award
The TecHub and TechStation, a popular computer-equipped study lounge and information center for students on the lower level of the Phillips Memorial Library, is being recognized with a national award for innovation.
The National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) will present Providence College with its 2012 Innovation Award during the NACUBO annual meeting on July 29 in Washington, D.C.
The College was one of three higher-education institutions chosen for the national honor. The others were the University of Illinois, Chicago, and the Walsh College of Accountancy & Business Administration, based in Troy, Mich.
John M. Sweeney, PC senior vice president for finance and business/CFO, said NACUBO was especially impressed by the “cross-divisional cooperation” that led to the development of TecHub and TechStation. The project was created by the library and the Office of Information Technology with assistance from the Office of Academic Affairs and the Physical Plant Office.
The TecHub, which can accommodate about 85 students, opened at the end of 2010. It offers the strongest wireless connectivity on campus and features four Mac mini computer terminals and data ports; two collaboration tables, each with a Mac mini computer; a wall-mounted, flat-screen monitor to project images from a laptop; 50 electrical outlets and 50 data jacks; and tables and chairs on casters, so they can be rearranged by students.
TechStation, located in a corner of the TecHub, is a technology and research help desk staffed by student workers in information technology and the library.
The project “totally transformed the lower level of the library and simultaneously allowed us to extensively transform the way we, as a college, provide teaching, learning, and research services, facilities, resources, and support to students,” said Dr. D. Russell Bailey, library director and associate professor. “Especially during reading week and finals, it’s packed.”
Since its opening, the TecHub has become even more popular with the addition of four technology-equipped classrooms to the library’s lower level. The classrooms and their technology are available for student use when classes are not in session — which is half of the more than 116 hours that the library is open a week.
“We have 275 seats for study and collaboration, with the addition of the classrooms,” said Bailey. “All have rich technology, including double data projectors, strong wireless, ENO-SMART Boards, with staff at the TechStation that can work to answer any questions students ask.”
The new classrooms also have made the TecHub appealing to faculty, who use it for training and small-group collaborative sessions.
Students drive the project
Bailey said TecHub and TechStation were developed as part of a philosophy to deliver services to students where they congregate.
Students always liked to gather in the basement lounge of the library, though it was poorly lit and had never been updated, because they felt free to talk and collaborate there without disturbing anyone, Bailey said.
When the second floor of the library was renovated in 2008, computers and wireless printers were moved to the lower-level lounge, and “students loved it,” Bailey said. “When we completed the second-floor renovations, we said that since the students liked the lower level area, we’d leave a few computers there. Sure enough, students continued to use the area much like they had been using it during the renovation.”
So it was a natural step to convert the area to a technology-equipped lounge, Bailey said. Strong support from Sweeney and Dr. Hugh F. Lena, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, provided the strategic funding, he said.
Since the creation of the TecHub and TechStation, college staff, faculty, and administrators, including those in Academic Media Services and the Instructional Technology Development Program, have continued to meet to develop more initiatives to integrate student services, resources, and facilities, he added.
NACUBO is a membership organization representing chief business and financial officers at more than 2,500 institutions of higher education around the world, providing advocacy, community service, and professional development activities.
— Vicki-Ann Downing