International Programs' WiderNet Project wins $470,000 grant from MacArthur Foundation

WRITER: COURTNEY CAVINESS
CONTACT: LOIS GRAY
International Programs
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-2026
e-mail: lois-gray@uiowa.edu

Release: Oct. 15, 2001

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa's WiderNet Project has received a $470,000 grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to continue bridging the information technology gap between African and U.S. universities.

"The grant from MacArthur recognizes the outstanding work of the WiderNet Project and the enormous potential for even stronger bonds between the University of Iowa and several prestigious universities in Nigeria," said Stuart Burden, senior program officer for the MacArthur Foundation. "We imagine that this project will become a model of how information sharing about technology can enhance teaching, learning and institutional advancement."

The WiderNet Project is headed by Cliff Missen, a systems analyst in the department of physiology and biophysics, and Michael McNulty, a UI professor of geography. The WiderNet Project is closing the breach in technology that exists between Iowan and Nigerian universities by training computer technicians and coaching decision-makers at Nigerian universities, helping them to increase bandwidth, establish university intranets, and build their local area networks.

"This grant allows the WiderNet project to focus more efforts towards Nigeria's largest universities and will allow the WiderNet Project to host dozens of their high-ranking administrators at the University of Iowa," Missen said. "With the MacArthur Foundation's generous support, we will be able to put together a cutting edge demonstration lab and give our guests hands-on experience with the tools they'll be deploying at their universities.

"In a sense, we are building a bridge between faculty and students at the University of Iowa and our partner Nigerian universities," McNulty said. "Few African universities have access to the wealth of information available in American institutions. Without digital communication, our African partners will become further marginalized. We believe this effort will further strengthen our partnerships with African universities and promote collaborative research and teaching in African studies as well as many other disciplines."

More information about the WiderNet Project can be found on the Web http://www.widernet.org. The WiderNet Project is currently collecting used computer and network equipment for use in Nigerian universities. For information on how to make donations, see http://www.widernet.org/getinvolved/computers or contact WiderNet at (319) 335-2200.

The WiderNet Project is part of UI International Programs, which serves to further internationalize the campus and community and promotes global scholarship, research and training.