CULLOWHEE -- Western Carolina University has been named one of the 100 "most wired" university campuses in the nation by Yahoo! Internet Life magazine, a national publication and guide to the World Wide Web.
Western was ranked the 68th most wired university in the United States, and was listed ahead of such larger universities as Clemson, South Carolina, Southern California, Notre Dame and Georgetown. Other North Carolina universities ranked in the top 100 are the University of North Carolina-Wilmington (ranked number 75), UNC-Chapel Hill (45), N.C. State (22) and Wake Forest (19).
The rankings are part of the cover story titled "America's 100 Most Wired Colleges 2000" in the May issue of Yahoo! Internet Life magazine's print and on-line editions.
The distinction marks the second time the publication has recognized Western for advances in the use of the tools of technology to enhance the teaching and learning process. The magazine, in a 1998 story listing the 50 most wired small towns in America, bestowed the title of "most wired small town" in North Carolina on WCU's home community of Cullowhee.
Western embarked five years ago on an ambitious effort to increase the use of computer-based technology in the classroom -- and beyond. That venture included a massive rewiring project, completed in the summer of 1996, linking all WCU residence halls to the campus computer network and the World Wide Web. Each residence hall room is equipped with two computer connections, providing a "port by every pillow." Western was the first in The University of North Carolina system to have in-room computer connections for every student in every residence hall.
With the arrival of the freshman class in August of 1998, Western also became the first UNC system campus to mandate that entering freshmen report to campus with networkable computers. This fall, all new transfer students will be required to have their own computers. WCU is among the first 12 universities in the public sector and the first 40 nationally to make student computer ownership part of the admissions process.
During their freshman year at WCU, students learn how to develop personal homepages on the World Wide Web, use the Internet to search for information, and utilize appropriate software programs for English composition, word-processing and oral presentations.
Apple Computer Inc. selected Western in 1999 to be part of a national customer profile series designed to show other colleges and universities how to incorporate the tools of high technology into higher education. The company named Western a "customer success story" despite the fact that WCU does not require students to bring Apple computers to campus; instead, the university's "open-platform standard" simply requires that a student's computer, regardless of brand, meet standards for accessing information via the Internet.