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University of Missouri announces plans to network four campuses with high-definition TelePresence systems


Christian Basi

October 29, 2008
$2-million gift will facilitate collaboration on research, distance education

COLUMBIA, Mo. — University officials today announced that each of Missouri's four campuses soon will install a high-definition Cisco TelePresence system that will be linked to AT&T's global network. The new TelePresence system will foster greater teaching and research collaboration while reducing travel time, travel-related expenses and carbon emissions.

"I believe this network will help transform the way we communicate and pursue our historic land-grant mission of teaching, research, statewide service and economic development," said Gary Forsee, University of Missouri System president. “We are among the first universities in the country to have this high-definition videoconferencing capability.”

Forsee said the new Cisco TelePresence rooms combine breakthrough technology and design to create a “virtual” meeting that overcomes the barriers of distance by creating an “in-person” experience. “Participants will feel as though they are sitting in the same room—though they may be hundreds of miles apart,” he said.

Gary and Sherry Forsee are providing the lead gift of $1 million for the new four-campus TelePresence system. The university's strategic advanced technology partners, Cisco and AT&T, are contributing to the equipment, installation, maintenance, design, technical assistance and networking of the new state-of-the-art Cisco TelePresence rooms.

AT&T will connect the university's four-campus TelePresence network to AT&T’s Virtual Private Network, thereby enabling access to the AT&T Business Exchange Service. This will allow any of the University of Missouri campuses to connect to research or business partners, as well as universities that are also subscribers to AT&T’s Business Exchange.

"This investment will, among other things, open up a number of new collaborative research and economic development opportunities in Missouri and beyond for our faculty and researchers," Forsee said.

“Cisco TelePresence allows the University of Missouri campuses to take their research agenda to an entirely new level and supports the evolution of their expanded distance learning programs,” said Bruce Klein, senior vice president of Cisco’s Public Sector Segment. “We believe TelePresence will foster the development of next-generation teaching and learning methods as well as innovative research, all in a way that helps the university community use technology to reduce its impact on the environment.”

Forsee added that the university has undertaken a national benchmarking and system-wide planning effort during the past year to identify best practices and consider how distance education will evolve for students and faculty in the coming years.

"This initiative — called Missouri Global — is in its early planning stages," he said. "I believe the new Cisco TelePresence and AT&T network will help advance this effort."

Forsee said that distance education is already a multi-billion-dollar market that is expected to reach an "explosive" growth rate by 2012.

"This means teaching formats that enhance traditional classroom and lab instruction with additional technology, and programs that are totally online, are vital to the growth and financial success of our university campuses," Forsee said.

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