Internet2 is working with the Minority Serving – Cyberinfrastructure Consortium (MS-CC) to explore solutions to reduce the gap between minority serving institutions and the global research and education ecosystem.
HBCUs, TCUs, HSIs and MSIs
NSF Grant Bolsters Partnership
A nearly $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation will enable the MS-CC and Internet2 to provide researchers, professional staff, and students from historically Black colleges and universities and tribal colleges and universities with programs and services that address their cyberinfrastructure needs.View Press Release
Consortium, Survey Identify Research Priorities
In late 2020, a leadership consortium from Minority Serving Institutions (historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), tribal colleges and universities (TCUs), and Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs)), working with Internet2, conducted a stakeholder alignment survey to better understand the needs of HBCUs, TCUs and HSIs.
A key objective of this effort is to help minority serving institutions identify the science, engineering, health, social science, and humanities education and research priorities that call for increased access to and use of data management and computing resources by the higher education community. The survey was conducted by WayMark Analytics, a social impact company that conducts mission-driven stakeholder mapping surveys. A total of 291 responses were received and a summary of findings was completed in January 2020. TCUs are also conducting a similar survey through an effort led in collaboration with the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC). Data from the TCU survey will be combined with the MS-CC survey to present an integrated picture of data and computing matters across U.S. minority-serving institutions. Key findings of needs identified include:
- Basic needs: Across HBCUs, HSIs, and TCUs there is a deep need for basic infrastructure support, such as broadband WIFI on campus and at home for students, staff, and faculty (heightened by the pandemic).
- Consistency across institutions: Although there are some unique considerations for certain types of institutions (such as data sovereignty with TCUs), the vast majority HBCUs, HSIs, and TCUs have similar responses.
- Workforce development: Students need literacy and advanced skills with data and computing (the educational mission), while faculty and staff need training and support for a robust cyberinfrastructure (the research mission).
- Collaboration: There is strong support for collaboration across institutions to accomplish together what they can’t do separately (with little support for each acting on their own).
- Institutional operations: Administrators need a more accessible and responsive data infrastructure for campus operations, surfaced when asked about research data and computing.
- Societal impact: There is a strong potential for data and computing to advance research on issues central to community culture and disparities in society, with infrastructure as a constraint on achieving these broader impacts.
The consortium will be holding webinars for the next several months to share the findings with the respondents and with other interested parties.
The MS-CC/Internet2 webinar on Thursday, March 18 called “Connecting the Dots: Using Campus IT Infrastructure Survey Data to Support Your Institutions’ Research Goals” offered the opportunity to learn more about how this data and feedback on-campus IT infrastructure needs can help you in supporting your institution’s research mission. View the recording and download the slides.
Event speakers included:
- Joey Brenn, Claflin University
- Bobby Clark, Clemson University
- Damian Clarke, Alabama A&M University
- Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld, Brandeis University
- Deb Dent, Jackson State University
- Alex Feltus, Clemson University
- Ana Hunsinger, Internet2
- Al Kuslikis, AIHEC
- Urban Wiggins, University of Maryland-Eastern Shore
- Lisa Wilson, Clark Atlanta University
- Ana Hunsinger, Vice President Community Engagement, Internet2
- Dr. Deborah Dent, Chief Information Officer, Jackson State University
- Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld, Professor, Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University
- Dr. Damian Clarke, Chief Information Officer, Alabama A&M University
- Al Kuslikis, Sr. Associate for Strategic Initiatives, American Indian Higher Education Consortium
- Joey Brenn, Assistant Vice President for IT, Claflin University
- Bobby Clark, Director CCIT IT Procurement & Vendor Management, Clemson University
Pilot Program Provides Opportunity for Wireless Access and Broadband Service
The Minority Serving-Cyberinfrastructure Consortium (MS-CC) believes the NTIA’s CONNECTING MINORITY COMMUNITIES PILOT PROGRAM provides a unique opportunity to significantly invest in the key areas emphasized (as key needs/must-haves) in the survey. The MS-CC would encourage the NTIA to consider allowing both consortia and individual institutional applicants and also encourage multiple rounds of funding, perhaps starting with staffing, training, and consortia-building efforts and scaling towards substantial infrastructure improvements in future funding rounds.
Broadband Internet Access Service
- To enhance access for students, researchers and teachers and to bridge research instruments, cloud resources and MSI institutions with secure, consortia supporting infrastructure, support for research and education network build outs, access and operations
- To support collaboration and consortia activities, access to wireless access and identity management tools
- To support researchers, support for dedicated science and research network connectivity for MSIs
- Given that MSIs do not typically offer, “broadband internet access service,” NTIA should deem private carriage and/or specialized network arrangements that are typically used in higher education and the anchor community as the “functional equivalent” of BIAS.
- Eligibility also should include fees to participate in national or interstate consortia supporting broadband infrastructure.
- Many MSIs seek support for networking equipment, including wireless access equipment, wireless roaming equipment, and supporting computing infrastructure.
- Ideally NTIA’s program would allow bundling of both equipment and operating expenses into long term agreements with providers and consortia.
- Ideally the program would consider software or cloud services that support administration, teaching and research across the consortia as a potential expense category.
- NTIA should take an expansive view of equipment and include dark fiber projects (including IRU agreements and long term leases) connecting MSIs with broadband capabilities
Training and Staffing
- To support collaboration, staffing to support direct training as well as support for consortia efforts (and supporting needs like coordinating staffing, IT and communications for the consortia) would be eligible for both minority serving institutions and the consortia they create. Such funding could build the necessary human infrastructure to grow and sustain infrastructure programs.
- NTIA should specifically support fees associated with synthesizing training efforts across the nation to provide a cost-effective tool for educating MSIs.
About Minority Serving Institutions
Today, there are 700 Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) that enroll nearly 30 percent of all undergraduates in the U.S. higher education system. Those include HBCUs, TCUs, HSIs, ANNHIs, Asian American Native American Pacific Islander – Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs), Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs), and Native American-Serving Nontribal Institutions Program (NASNTIs). Internet2 is currently working with the Minority Serving – Cyberinfrastructure Consortium on a collaborative effort to explore solutions to reduce the gap between current HBCUs, TCUs, and HSIs campus networks and the global research and education ecosystem.
The MS-CC is a transformational partnership to promote advanced cyberinfrastructure (CI) capabilities on HBCU, HSI, TCU, and MSI campuses, with data; research computing; teaching; curriculum development and implementation; collaboration; and capacity-building connections among institutions. MS-CC will learn and grow as a consortium. We are dedicated to lifting all participating institutions by advancing cyberinfrastructure for research and education across diverse fields, disciplines, and communities. We will engage as full contributors to the global research and education community. MS-CC is working in partnership with Internet2, the national research and education network of the United States.
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