Laptop program helps students

Kara Hull and Kara Hull

With the creation of the Financial Aid Laptop Program in the fall of 2001, the Student Technology Center has proved that it is possible for two similar programs to coexist while accomplishing different goals.

An initial laptop program was created under the direction of Linda Dobb, executive vice president, who created the center in the fall of 2000 using more than $60,000 from Success Challenge, an Ohio program which offers state institutions rewards for having low-income students graduating in four years.

The program, then supervised by former manager of the center Paul Cesarini, will end its first round at the end of spring semester. It was established to give more than 150 students with undecided majors a laptop computer for their four-year stay at the University. This action was an attempt to help retain these students. Each student will have the ability to purchase their laptop at its current value come May.

According to Cesarini, 12 additional laptops with wireless cards were issued to the Jerome Library and 12 more were divided among students affiliated with the offices of Academic Enhancement and Disability Services to serve as pilots for the program.

For most students, the distribution of portable computers has been beneficial.

“It’s small, so I can actually carry it around a little bit,” Kara Hoernemann, junior, said. “It’s nice that when I graduate I can buy it for a cheaper price.”

A high level of interest among students with declared majors and those not involved with Academic Enhancement or Disability Services prompted the establishment of a financial need-based program a year later.

“I think it worked out very well,” Cesarini said. “The only reason we wanted to broaden the installed user base for this program is because word spread of it so quickly.”

The center has more than a dozen computers to loan to students who are currently receiving financial aid. Computers are on loan for two consecutive semesters. Applications to begin the program for fall semester will be accepted during finals week.

Most students appreciate the opportunities the program gives them, according to Kaye Puthoff, technical communication coordinator at the center.

“I think a lot of students are really excited to have an opportunity to get a computer from the University,” she said. “It’s still University-maintained, but they get to call it their own. A lot of people are appreciative of that fact.”

The center requires students to bring their computers in for renewal and memory or software upgrades each semester. Aside from minor damages, the center has not had any laptops destroyed or stolen.

“Every once in a while somebody will drop one and crack something, and that does go on the student’s Bursar bill,” Puthoff said.