Part of the answer to the question of why the campus does not have an overarching wireless network dates back to former University President Lee Bollinger.
According to Information Studies Prof. Robert Frost, the University is still reeling from Bollinger’s lack of core leadership to establish wireless coverage on campus. As a result, each school at the University is working independently to develop its own wireless system.
Frost criticized Bollinger, who could not be reached for comment, for ignoring wireless coverage.
“He looked at the leadership as a trophy job and nothing got done,” said Information Studies Prof. Robert Frost, who remembers Bollinger as a “spineless jerk.”
Administrators acknowledge that the deployment of wireless across the campus is decentralized, but Frost called the system a complete mess.
“It’s going to take a lot of meetings and just general bullshit to get this done right,” Frost said. “There was complete incoherence in how things got rolled out.”
Within each University college is an information technology service center that directs the implementation of wireless at the school.
Under the Bollinger administration, the University attempted to lead this federation of IT services to gradually coordinate the development of a campus-wide wireless network, said Jose-Marie Griffiths, chief information officer for the University from 1996 to 2001.
Griffiths’s strategy was to form partnerships and to collaborate between the IT services at the different schools to design a road map for wireless network deployment.
“We wanted to a build a coherent way to do this, rather than leave the smaller units behind. LSA’s resources were very stretched,” Griffiths said. “It was very difficult to see how LSA could do it on its own.”
Griffiths, who currently serves as the dean of the University of North Carolina’s school of information, said the first attempts began in the summer of 2000 with a pilot program at the Law School to install an extensive wireless network.
A success, the pilot program essentially helped lay the foundations to create a campus-wide wireless network, Griffith said.
A campus-wide network has yet to be achieved, but according to information technology administrators, collaboration continues successfully today.
“Experts from across campus came together to set technical standards and prototype implementations; they continue to refine standards as technology changes,”