Oct 27, 2008 - Claremont, Calif. -
The gift, which will support staff development and a new digital learning commons for students and faculty, comes at a time when the new strategic plan for HMC’s information technology (IT) begins refocusing college resources on the needs of teaching, learning and research, and revives the role of faculty leaders in IT planning.
“We are delighted to have received this grant and very excited about the idea of working in partnership with faculty and students to enhance the already excellent educational opportunities at Harvey Mudd College,” said Joseph Vaughan, chief information officer and vice president of computing and information services (CIS). “We know that the college, through CIS, needs to do more in the area of educational technology by way of dedicated staff and dedicated spaces. The Fletcher Jones Foundation grant will allow us to take the first big steps in this direction.”
This upgrade project, which will be carried out over two years, is the first phase of a multi-phase, 4-year program to improve the college’s entire IT infrastructure.
The grant will fund two staff positions—in instructional technology and scientific computing—for the next two years, after which it is expected they will become part of the college's regular IT budget.
Elizabeth Hodas will lead the new educational technology unit with CIS, overseeing educational activities that rely on information technology; the scientific computing specialist, still to be hired, will be an expert in various computer applications used by the academic departments.
Both individuals will provide faculty with the knowledge and resources they need to experiment with new software and hardware and potentially change the way they teach. They will also work directly with students to help them make use of technological innovations, thus reducing the need for faculty to devote class time to teach students how to use particular learning tools.
The foundation grant will also fund the transformation of two traditional computer labs adjacent to the CIS department into a digital learning commons.
The proposed space will be designed to encourage multiple forms of faculty and student interaction, and will support collaborative and cross-disciplinary learning in ways that traditional computer laboratories do not. The emphasis will be on comfort, flexibility, ergonomic workstations and high-end computing resources.
“One of the lifebloods of Harvey Mudd College is computing,” said Robert Cave, vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty. “It is instrumental in our teaching, research, and Clinic Program, and this grant will allow us to advance in all three areas. In particular, it should allow us to make even greater use of sophisticated analysis and research tools in the classroom. This will greatly enhance our students' learning and allow them to take on new multidisciplinary problems.”
The Fletcher Jones Foundation was incorporated in 1969 as part of the estate plan of Fletcher Roseberry Jones, a mathematician, visionary businessman, and 1950s pioneer in the field of computer science. According to the organization’s website, the original trustees of the Foundation decided in 1972, after Jones’ death, that their primary emphasis would be support of private colleges and universities in California. That mission continues today.