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2008 EDUCAUSE Catalyst Award

Educause —2008— recognizing innovations and initiatives centered on information technologies that provide groundbreaking solutions to major challenges in higher education, or change prevailing conditions in remarkable ways so as to allow new solutions to be deployed.

The Regional Networks that evolved in the late 1980s and early 1990s were an essential part of the collaborative dynamics that created the Internet. Evolving from and supporting higher education consortia with roots in supercomputing research centers, the Regional Networks were able to solve formidable technical problems and create critical interoperability standards, develop and share organizational models, evangelize for new applications, and bring together diverse academic and corporate entities in a trusted network environment that had not existed before.

The Regional Networks formed an essential link in an unprecedented partnership that included the federal government’s National Science Foundation Network (NSFNET), emerging campus networks, supercomputing centers at research institutions, and commercial network providers that were created to manage a nascent national backbone. These organizational players, in turn, followed the lead of the predecessor Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) of the U.S. Department of Defense. What had its roots in basic science and military research blossomed into a world-wide knowledge tool and economic engine.

The Regional Networks and their visionary pioneers shaped a concept into reality with government and corporate entities that ultimately benefited institutions of all types, sizes, and missions. Few enterprises in history have depended on such broad, deep, and sustained collaboration. Without the direct and catalytic impact of the Regional Networks, neither higher education nor, indeed, the global information web could have been transformed as quickly as they were just two decades ago.

This award is sponsored by SunGard Higher Education, An EDUCAUSE Platinum Partner.

Amy PhilipsonEDUCAUSE