Posted: April 6, 2004

Contact: Doug Anderson,, 651-201-1426

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System has announced its 2004 Exemplary Information Technology Project Awards, which highlight exceptional projects completed around the system in the last year.

The awards were presented at a recent Board of Trustees Technology Committee meeting. These are the first of what will become annual awards. Along with systemwide recognition for exemplary work, award recipients will be invited to showcase their projects at future Board of Trustees Technology Committee meetings.

"Our individual campuses do a phenomenal job with the integration of technology and systems thinking to better serve students and staff," said Trustee Lew Moran, Technology Committee chair. "These award-winning efforts mark the most significant advances that the system has made in radically changing the delivery of educational curriculum to the citizens of Minnesota."

A committee of presidents and Office of the Chancellor representatives considered 36 nominations from the system of 32 state colleges and universities. Ken Niemi, vice chancellor for information systems, said the high quality of the nominated projects made the deliberations challenging.

"I am proud of the outstanding information technology projects being implemented across the system," Niemi said. "This exciting use of technology to improve the educational enterprise for our students, faculty and staff reflects our belief in implementing technology not for its own sake, but for the way it supports our system in achieving its strategic goals."

The primary criterion for selecting recipients, said President Joe Birmingham of Central Lakes College, was the degree to which projects aligned with the system's four strategic goals. Two awards were presented for each of the four identified priorities.

"The award winners offer a wonderful snapshot of the exciting innovations happening all around the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System," Birmingham said.

The following awards were given:

Increased Access and Opportunity:
Minnesota West Community and Technical College, "Accessible Nursing"; St. Paul College, "Online Testing"

Community Development and Economic Vitality
Pine Technical College, "Fiber Optic Backbone";
Inver Hills Community College, "Computer Network Technology"

High Quality Learning Programs and Services
Minnesota State University, Mankato, "Wireless Campus Project";
Ridgewater College, "Simulation/Nursing"

Full Integration of the System
Minneapolis Community and Technical College, "Project E-LECT";
Inver Hills Community College, "Budget Development Application"

In addition, two overall awards were given to Alexandria Technical College and Metropolitan State University for their portal projects.

A special service award was given posthumously to Gary Phelps, former vice president for distributed learning at Minnesota West Community and Technical College, for his work on behalf of students, his institution and the system. Phelps died this winter.

Note: Descriptions of the award-winning projects follow.

Descriptions of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System 2004 Exemplary IT Project Awards

Accessible Nursing Education through E-Learning
Minnesota West Community and Technical College nursing faculty developed all the didactic nursing courses for online delivery. The project worked to provide maximum opportunities for students, especially rural students with limited opportunities, to begin, continue or enhance the career pathway in nursing.

Moving from Paper and Pencil Testing to Online Assessment
St. Paul College delivered a Web-based assessment program giving English Language Learners greater access to higher education. The project featuring un-timed, computer adaptive tests that were walk-in accessible, six days per week, and featuring immediate scoring of data and immediate placement for students.

The Pine City Fiber Optic Backbone
Pine Technical College launched this project to improve the telecommunications infrastructure in the community and offer access to broadband services for all residents. Partners include the City of Pine City, Pine County, the Pine City Schools, the local health care sector, the Minnesota Department of Administration and others.

Keeping Up with Computer Network Technology through Public/Private Partnerships This project at Inver Hills Community College involved a partnership with Cisco Systems, Inc. and Check Point, Inc. to serve as a Network Security Training Site. These two companies developed the training materials and curriculum, instructor training programs and a donated state of the art equipment package for training labs.

Wireless Campus Project
Minnesota State University, Mankato, expanded its wireless network infrastructure to provide coverage throughout the campus with support from several high-tech industry partners.

Simulation as an Innovative Approach to Promote and Enhance Learning in Nursing Education
The use of high-fidelity human patient simulators and computer-aided learning devices at Ridgewater College have been incorporated into the nursing curriculum, allowing faculty to provide students with realistic patient scenarios in a safe environment. The simulation centers provide students with multiple inputs and multi-method approaches to enhance critical thinking skills, use technology at the point of care, enhance cultural competency and practice effective decision-making to improve patient care outcomes.

Project E-LECT: A Statewide Collaboration for Online Delivery of Child Development Credentials
This Minneapolis Community and Technical College project is a collaborative effort of the child development faculty from 13 Minnesota State Colleges and Universities community and technical colleges to offer the credit courses leading to the certificate, diploma and Associate of Applied Science degree. The outcome is the online delivery of a child development program that meets certificate, diploma and associate degree credentials.

Budget Development Application
Inver Hills Community College developed an application that is cost-effective, improves the efficiency and effectiveness of collecting budget information, and reduces the amount of staff and time needed to complete the budgeting process. The project provides the CFO and executive managers with accurate budget request data to build a balanced budget, provides a means for budget line items to be associated with specific strategic goals and budget guidelines, and enables cost center managers to submit their budget items and needs easily and accurately.

Portal Projects
Two innovative projects from Metropolitan State University and Alexandria Technical College are delivering Web services to faculty, students and staff through campus portal technology.

Gary Phelps - A True Champion
A special posthumous award for service and dedication was given to Gary Phelps of Minnesota West Community and Technical College for his tireless work to further innovative education through technology. Gary worked to build a distributed learning system for Minnesota West that would serve an immense geographical region so that no citizen would be left behind.