University of Pittsburgh

Council on Academic Computing (CAC)

2000 – 2001 Activities Report



On October 2, 2000, Provost Maher addressed Council and delivered the following charge.


  1. Study the options available for distributing bandwidth and look for long-term solutions.  Consider what other universities are doing in this area and what we’re doing with bandwidth for teaching and research.
  2. Examine the impact of system failures.  Develop an understanding of what can be done when these crashes occur and how to minimize the deleterious effects of such crashes.
  3. Address computer security issues.
  4. Develop an RFP to solicit proposals for exciting use of Internet2 connections to enhance teaching and research.  Find interested faculty and stimulate proposal development.
  5. Revisit use of technology in the classroom.





Three subcommittees were formed in response to the Provost’s charge.




A subcommittee, comprised of Connolly, Dick, Galletta, and Hoelzeman, was formed to study options available for distributing bandwidth and recommend long term solutions.


The group recommends:

1.     That students, staff, and faculty receive a “basic level” of connectivity and associated bandwidth consistent with a modern research university.

2.     That a mechanism be developed to allow users who want a “higher level” of network performance to access higher performing channels at a premium price.

3.     That a new pricing structure be implemented soon, before the University hits the inevitable bandwidth crunch.


The full report of the Bandwidth subcommittee can be viewed at




Chandra, Draus, Hellman, and Jordan were asked to examine system security issues.


Their recommendations:

1.     Publicize security policies.

2.     Set up training for server operators.

3.     Have varying levels of security on different sections of the network and on different servers.

4.     Provide central screening of files/mail for viruses if possible.

5.     Set up a security problem reporting system via the help desk and Web, not only to track problems but to help highlight security issues.

6.     Provide some mechanism to alert or educate the end user on issues of security.


The subcommittee’s full report is available at


Systems Failure


Cohn, Frieze, Sereika, Stone, and Vana were asked to determine the impact of University-wide systems failure on faculty academic computing, and, to advise the Provost on these issues.  The group has detailed instances from twenty-five sites of past and potential network computing disruptions.  The group recommends continued dialogue and heightened awareness of the impacts of systems disasters.  Individual units may want to evolve their business practices in a manner that could offset the effects of short-term network disruptions.


Their full report is located at



High Performance Network Applications Initiative


A call for proposals was developed for the High Performance Network Applications Initiative.  Proposals to the program were asked to promote the development and use of advanced computer networks and accelerate the development of next generation network-based applications at the University of Pittsburgh.


A total of 11 proposals were submitted to High Performance Network Applications Initiative.  Six proposals were funded, yielding a greater than 50% funding rate.  Grant topics range from addressing social problems through the use of Internet2 capabilities to providing a training environment for ophthalmologists.  Awardees include Gunduz Caginalp (FAS/Mathematics), Shi-Kuo Chang (FAS/Computer Science), Luis Chaparro (Electrical Engineering) et al., Rose Constantino (Nursing/Health and Community Systems), Michael Gorin (Ophthalmology) et al., Jeremy Levy (FAS/Physics and Astronomy) et al.







An update was provided on CourseInfo.  CourseInfo is stable and operating well.  The issue of copyright ownership of materials will need to be addressed in the future.


High-end Classrooms

Friedman reported on high-end classrooms at the University of Washington.  Mary Gates Hall now houses numerous technology-enabled classrooms and is equipped with hundreds of computer workstations.  The building is expected to serve half of the undergraduate student body.



Information Sessions


Dr. David Brown, Professor of Economics, Dean of the International Center for Computer-Enhanced Learning, and Vice President of Wake Forest University, delivered a presentation to Council via videoconference.  Brown’s presentation focused on how the ubiquity of laptop computers can change the way faculty teach and explained the Wake Forest plan for using laptops in the classroom.  The presentation was videotaped and is available from the Office of the Vice Provost for Research. 


Donald Grimm of Computing Services and Systems Development provided Council with a demonstration of SmartBoard capabilities.  Through SmartNotebook software, an individual can use his finger or a pointer as a mouse to work at a computer without physically sitting behind it.


Michael Arenth of the Center for Instructional Development and Distance Education (CIDDE) demonstrated Tegrity to members of Council.  Tegrity is a complete hardware/software presentation system created and based in Israel. 


Nicholas Laudato of CIDDE demonstrated Janus to Council.  Janus is a desktop display screen that can be connected to a standard portable computer and projector for classroom use.


Jinx Walton provided Council with regular updates regarding developments in and improvements to the University’s computing environment.



2000 - 2001 CAC Members


Melanie Anderson



Siddharth Chandra


Carson Chow


Ellen Cohn


Andrew Connolly

FAS/Physics & Astronomy

Gregory Dick


Peter Draus


Charles Friedman


Irene Frieze

FAS/Psychology representing SCUC

Dennis Galletta


Arthur Hellman


Ronald Hoelzeman


Kenneth Jordan


Hassan Karimi


Susan Sereika

Nursing representing SCUC

Clement Stone


Clara Vana


Michael Zemaitis




Chair:                    George E. Klinzing, Office of the Provost

Staff Liaison:                   Jinx Walton, Computing Services & Systems Development

Observer:              Thalia Jones, Office of the Provost


Guests:                 Michael Arenth, CIDDE

David Brown, Wake Forest University

Donald Grimm, CSSD

                             Nicholas Laudato, CIDDE