A lot has changed in campus technology in the last 15 years. During this critical transition period in higher education, David Mulford, the director of the Instructional Technology Resource Center at Roanoke College, has helped facilitate nearly every technological endeavor his school has undertaken.
“When I came to Roanoke in 1996, there wasn’t a lot of technology in use at the time,” said Mulford. “We didn’t have classrooms with computers in them, except for one class in our business department. And we had one in the library as well that was doing computer projection. Other than that, we had standard VCRs and traditional classroom stuff that the faculty was using for instruction.”
Roanoke is a private college that was established in 1842. The Salem, Va. campus is a stone’s throw from the Appalachian Trail – just 10 miles separate the two – and offers a surplus of scenic views.
The college claims a modest 2,100-person student body, and Mulford is part of a very small department, charged with serving all of those students as well as faculty members and the administration. Although the college has stayed steadfastly abreast of advancements through the years, its technology center came from humble beginnings.
Two grants from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations changed all that. The first, for $250,000, came in 1996.
“We won the grant and it took about four years, from 1996 to 2000, to get the first classrooms up to date,” explained Mulford. “We ended up with, at first, a bunch of projectors on carts. We had 10 to 15 computer projector carts. It worked well, but it was a hassle for faculty. It’s bad when you’re strapped for time. You had to go to a closet, wheel it in and make sure that it’s ready for class. While they enjoyed having access, they didn’t enjoy using it because it wasn’t permanently installed.”
Shortcomings aside, the technology that was procured with the initial grant served as the pacesetter for forthcoming projects. Then, in 2006, another $250,000 grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations capped a complete technological overhaul at the college.
That grant was supplemented by the implementation of a student technology, similar to those charged on many college campuses across the country that was added in 1995. The fee initially helped to pay for the hardwiring of dorm rooms and has since been instrumental in outfitting the 71 classrooms at Roanoke.
The fee also made possible a total renovation of Lucas Hall, a foreign language department building on campus. Ten classroom spaces inside the now-LEED-certified building were