By Casandra Nguyen, ’15
Students at Southern Tier high schools, Hilbert College and ones involved in the university’s Warren (Pa.) County program will now have front-row access to St. Bonaventure University without coming to campus.
A recent grant award of $10,000 from the F.T. and Anna C. Manley Memorial Trust has made this possible.
The grant will fund the transformation of a current St. Bonaventure classroom into a video conferencing center that will include a Lifesize Express Conferencing System, a video projector and an audio system, including ceiling-mounted microphones.
The proposal was submitted by Dr. Peggy Burke, associate provost and graduate studies dean, and Dr. Michael Hoffman, associate provost and chief information officer. The administrators received the award last month from Ron Sutton, trust officer for the Manley Memorial Fund.
Burke said that the new technology would strengthen the alliance between St. Bonaventure and Hilbert College in Hamburg, N.Y. The distance would no longer be an issue with lost time and the expense of meeting between the two colleges.
“Leveraging distance technology, like the type funded through this grant, is vital for St. Bonaventure to continue to increase its geographic reach,” said Hoffman, who believes the video conferencing center is necessary to break the distance barrier.
Students from the Southern Tier interested in enrolling in college-level courses while remaining at their local schools will have an opportunity to connect through this technology. Partnership with the Cattaraugus-Allegany Board of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES) course may be one way to help students earn college credits in preparation for a college setting.
High school students involved in the Warren County program, located 50 miles from St. Bonaventure, now can have class on days that the weather makes driving impossible.
“Some of the treacherous driving in winter can be avoided through use of this technology when we have graduate students at the Buffalo Center and on this campus,” said Burke.
Burke and Hoffman both believe the Manley Video Conferencing Center could be used in a variety of ways. It can connect St. Bonaventure and the western New York community to a variety of global resources that the university hasn’t been able to take full advantage of.
By reaching out beyond the “Bona Bubble,” courses will include collaborations with the Olean General Hospital learning facility, the Dream It Do It Consortium and local businesses invested in STEM fields.
With enough positive response, there will be a program that connects alumni with students within the University 101 course, required for all freshmen.
“In today’s interconnected world,” said Burke, “this technology provides a way for us to be good stewards of university resources.”
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