1998 EDUCAUSE. From Educom Review,
September/ October 1998,
33, Number 5, 1998, p. 42-47.
Robert C. Heterick, Jr.
once encountered a bit of graffiti that opined, "Time is
nature's way of making sure everything doesn't happen at
for an organization, its contribution to society can be understood
only in the fullness of time and in the character of the many
people who provided its leadership. If,
as Ralph Waldo Emerson observed, "An institution is the
lengthened shadow of an individual," then over time an
organization becomes the compounded lengthening of many individual
E T R O S P E C T I V E
Five-year grant of $750,000 offered by W. K.
Kellogg Foundation for new administrative
First issue of Educom Bulletin. First EDUCOM
conference held at Duke University; attendance
150. Edison Montgomery, University of Pittsburgh
vice-chancellor, elected president of Educom.
Headquarters moved to Boston. Educom
"resolution on Copyright" published with
intention to clarify status of computer programs
with regard to Copyright Revision Bill in U.S.
Jordan Baruch succeeds Edison Montgomery as
W. K. Kellogg Foundation renews support for Educom
with five-year $600,000 grant.
Jordan Baruch resigns presidency and is replaced
by acting president Joseph Becker. Henry Chauncey
Educom launches Consulting Service and Library
Catalog Card Service with OCLC.
NSF awards $113,600 for three networking seminars.
John and Mary Markle Foundation awards grant to
study cable TV in education; Exxon Education
Foundation grants $66,000 to study state agencies
and centralized computing services for colleges
Planning Council on Computing in Education and
Research is created by group of 18 universities.
Joe B. Wyatt elected president of Educom on
resignation of Henry Chauncey.
James C. Emery elected Educom president.
Discount Purchase Program announced for Educom
Educom Financial Planning Model (EFPM) completed.
National Science Foundation awards Educom $360,000
for study of computer-based sharing in teaching
Educom receives $102,000 from Lilly Foundation to
continue research and evaluation of EFPM.
John W. McCredie appointed president of Educom.
Lilly Foundation awards $213,000 grant for
continued development of EFPM.
Educom receives $282,000 grant from Carnegie
Foundation for networking.
First issue of Educom Networking Newsletter
IBM donates $1 million plus equipment for startup
of BITNET information center.
Ernest J. Anastasio named 7th president of Educom.
Ernest Anastasio resigns as president; Mike
Roberts named acting president of Educom.
Kenneth M. King named 8th president of Educom.
Networking and Telecommunications Task Force (NTTF)
formed with five initial members.
First National NET conference held in Washington,
D.C. NTTF has 40 members.
Educom Review replaces Educom Bulletin.
Four volumes of the Strategies Series published.
Coalition for Networked Information founded.
Higher Education Information Resources Alliance (HEIRA)
First issue of Edupage released to a circulation
of less than 100. Internet Society founded with
Educom as charter member.
Robert C. Heterick, Jr., named 9th president of
Educom. Outline of National Learning
Infrastructure Initiative (NLII) begun. 1994
Educom Fellows program initiated. NLII announced
with 46 members.
First Educom Medals awarded.
Work begun on Instructional Management System (IMS).
Internet2 project spun off from Educom as part of
new University Corporation for Advanced Internet
years ago, a group of medical school deans and vice presidents
from Duke, Harvard, SUNY, the universities of California,
Illinois, Michigan, Pittsburgh and Virginia met in Ann Arbor,
Michigan, to found an organization dedicated to the idea that
digital computers offered an incredible opportunity for sharing
among institutions of higher education. The organization they
founded was the Interuniversity Communications Council, Inc.,
better known by its trade name--Educom. Those must have been
halcyon days for visionaries, as the Online Computer Library
Center, Inc. was formed just three years later and CAUSE,
Inc.--originally devoted to administrative computing
issues--another four years after that. All three were created in
response to a dimly perceived, but fervently believed, future made
possible by the digital computer.
that intrepid group of founders was James Grier Miller, who in the
October 1966 issue of Science magazine had this rationale for the
founding of Educom: "The dilemma of the information explosion
affects all aspects of higher education, the primary function of
which may be viewed as information processing broadly
conceived--including the creation of new information (research),
transmission of information (teaching), learning of information by
students, and storage and retrieval of information in libraries.
Administration and management of universities also involve many
sorts of information processing.
"Each of them, however, needs to be evaluated carefully for
effectiveness and costs in human time and money in comparison with
more traditional methods. Emphasis must remain on the human goals
of educational institutions, rather than on gadgets. It is both to
evaluation of this kind and to technological progress in
communications that the new Interuniversity Communications Council
(Educom) is dedicated."
Miller later served as president of the University of Louisville,
and in 1981 he became founding chairman of the board of the
University of the World, an organization working to connect
institutions worldwide with narrow-band computer and broadband
In its early years, Educom lived the usual vagabond existence of
most small associations, moving its office with its presidents
until the presidential term of Henry Chauncey, distinguished
former president of Educational Testing Service (ETS), who
established a more permanent residence for Educom in Princeton,
New Jersey. Educom remained in Princeton until 1988, when, under
the presidency of Ken King, it began its move to Washington, D.C.
Educom might well be viewed as having two
lifetimes--the first commencing in the mainframe era with the
introduction of time-shared systems, and the second somewhere
around 1984, with widespread educational adoption of the personal
computer. Throughout both eras the focus in Educom has been on
sharing--sharing resources, sharing ideas, sharing a vision.
In 1966 the first edition of the Educom Bulletin was
published and the first EDUCOM conference was held at Duke
University. Attendance was 150. Planning for a resource-sharing
network--called EDUNET--began with $150,000 in grants from the
National Science Foundation, the National Library of Medicine, the
U.S. Office of Education, and the U.S. Public Health Service.
Educom dependence on external grant funding was now firmly
In 1970 Educom found itself at its first real turning point.
President Jordan Baruch resigned in February, and Joseph Becker
was named acting president. Martin Greenberger, who had served as
board chair since 1968, was asked to head up a search for a
successor. Chauncey, who was retiring as president of ETS, was
regarded by Greenberger as a vital and energetic person with
strong leadership abilities and excellent experience. Chauncey had
served on the Educom board for several years and upon being
approached by Greenberger for the role of president, indicated he
would be interested in the position. Chauncey was named president
In a letter to Chauncey dated March 6, 1994, Greenberger captured
the significance of Chauncey's tenure. "From my perspective,
you are the reason Educom survived and was able to turn the
corner. You brought a dignity, humor, and unflappability to the
job that was very much needed. I don't think there would be an
Educom today without its having had a Henry Chauncey as president
in that critical period."
In the mid-1970s, Educom created EDUNET in an attempt to realize
the vision of its founders. This impressive effort by Chauncey and
Greenberger on Educom's behalf occurred at a time when the net
worth of the organization was negative and dues were $250 per
year. A small number of research universities contributed $10,000
a year to explore the viability of national computing resource
sharing. Out of that work the Educom Financial Planning Model
emerged. The model was developed by Bill Massy at Stanford
University, made available through Educom, and used by about 50
institutions until 1987. The effort to share central computers
over low-speed, expensive dial-up networks was a mixed success.
During the first era, one might describe Educom conferences as
intimate--fewer than 200 attendees. Even during the early 1980s,
conference attendance was only 300 to 400 hardy souls. The Educom
Review had its start publishing reports from council meetings and
conference proceedings. At that time, its circulation was in the
mere hundreds. Educom lived a somewhat hand-to-mouth existence.
The cash and cash-equivalent balance of Educom on June 30, 1984,
was $7,733, with a fund balance of $71,704. The organization's
actual net worth by modern accounting standards was undoubtedly
significantly lower. Educom had lived--and would continue to live
until the 1990s--a tenuous existence, dependent on the ability of
the president to secure grant funding for programs.
nearly the entirety of its life, Educom has been viewed by its
members as a frontier-probing rather than evangelical
organization--a point of view ratified by its board as recently as
1994. Whereas members have viewed Educom as a small, flexible,
dynamic organization, others have seen its approach as elitist.
However, with only one minor lapse in the early 1980s, Educom
trustees steadfastly maintained this course.
In 1983 Educom convinced IBM to provide a grant for creation of
the BITNET (Because It's Time NETwork) Information Center. For
nearly a decade, BITNET provided the major source of e-mail
connectivity for most of higher education, both in the United
States and abroad. At about the same time, the Educom Strategies
Series monographs were launched with publication of Campus
Computing Strategies, edited by then-president Jack McCredie.
Coupled with the growth of campus networking and personal
computing, Educom was launched into a period of explosive growth.
It was about that time that computer vendors rediscovered higher
education as a major market and a technology-innovation engine. In
the earlier mainframe and minicomputer period, computer vendors
had used higher education as a source of innovative ideas and to
gain market acceptance. With widespread adoption of the personal
computer, technology strayed away from a small priesthood of
experts and toward the broader populace of everyday professionals.
The Educom Corporate Associates Program (CAP) was started in 1984
with a rudimentary vendor exhibit at the conference that year in
Boston and CAP membership rapidly grew to100. Educom's membership
doubled to 600, and under the guidance of Director of Conferences
Sue Ellen Anderson, conference attendance rose quickly to 3,000.
By 1989, vendors were spending millions at the EDUCOM annual
conference to showcase their products.
The Educom Software Initiative began in 1985 with a three-year,
$500,000 grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts. First under the
leadership of Frank Connolly and then Educom Vice President Steve
Gilbert, the concept was expanded and the name changed in 1987 to
Educational Uses of Information Technology (EUIT). Among the major
achievements of the EUIT program were the Educom Code, which
addressed the use of intellectual property in electronic formats;
the Higher Education Software Awards program; Equal Access to
Software for Instruction, which addressed the needs of those with
disabilities; and a series of materials dealing with dilemmas in
the ethical uses of information.
The Networking and Telecommunications Task Force (NTTF) was
originally conceived in 1984 as a response to the rapid evolution
of computer networks on Educom member campuses. By 1986, 25
institutions had joined the task force at an annual fee of $5,000
each. That year Mike Roberts--the first president of CAUSE--took a
leave of absence from Stanford University and accepted a one-year
appointment as vice president for networking and director of the
task force. The resignation of Ernest Anastasio as Educom
president immediately thrust Roberts into the role of acting
president as well. The next year Ken King, formerly vice president
at Cornell University, was elected president and Roberts decided
to join Educom full-time.
Rapidly growing federal interest in networking and
high-performance computing--areas of great importance to Educom's
members--resulted in a decision in 1988 by the Educom trustees to
relocate the organization's offices to Washington. That same year
discussions were undertaken with CAUSE about the potential for a
merger. The Educom and CAUSE boards both recommended a merger to
their memberships and the Educom membership ratified that proposal
at its 1988 annual meeting. The CAUSE membership was fairly evenly
divided over the issue, and the CAUSE board decided to terminate
the discussion. Out of that failed effort arose a relationship
between the two organizations that would serve to both
differentiate their programs and create new opportunities for
The first major step in this direction was creation of the Higher
Education Information Resources Alliance (HEIRA). When Educom
joined with CAUSE and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL)
to found the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI), HEIRA was
expanded to include ARL. Under the direction of Paul Evan Peters,
the CNI broke new ground in the migration of scholarly information
to the Internet.
In the early 1990s, Educom had a brief flirtation with the K-12
community when it accepted a grant from IBM to encourage
networking in schools. Educom quickly realized its strength lay in
higher education, and the program was discontinued. Out of it,
however, came the Consortium of School Networks, which remains
active in the K-12 arena.
Beginning with King's term as president, Educom moved aggressively
to put its financial house in order. In 1993, during the
presidency of Bob Heterick, formerly vice president at Virginia
Polytechnic Institute and State University, Educom took a series
of aggressive steps to reduce its overhead costs and dependence on
external grants and contracts. The Educom trustees led the
membership to agree to a restructuring of the dues schedule, and
by 1998 the organization was operating with a $5-million reserve.
A redesign of Educom Review by Wendy
Rickard allowed the magazine to gravitate from publishing only
conference proceedings to becoming a successful quarterly
publication, which then transitioned to a bimonthly publication in
1992. In 1993, the editorship of the magazine was assumed by John
Gehl, and by 1997 the magazine had reached a circulation of
18,000. In 1992 Gehl, along with Suzanne Douglas, began publishing
the popular Edupage, a three-times-a-week electronically
distributed summary of technology news, now translated into eight
languages, and reaching an estimated audience of several hundred
As federal interest in first the NSFnet--and then the
Internet--began to grow, the voice of Educom through the NTTF
became more prominent in debates regarding national
telecommunications policy. Beginning with congressional testimony
in 1987 that encouraged the U.S. government to add education to
its thinking about a national research network, NTTF increasingly
assumed the role of facilitator between government, corporations
and higher education. In addition to the annual National Net
meetings held in Washington, a series of conferences in Monterey,
California, helped solidify support for the Internet and laid the
foundation for the next generation of the Internet through the
The Internet2 project was so successful that it was spun off from
Educom in 1997 as the not-for-profit University Corporation for
Advanced Internet Development. Doug Van Houweling, who had served
as chair of the NTTF Advisory Board, left his position at the
University of Michigan to serve as its first president.
In 1993 Heterick, Bill Graves, who was on leave from the
University of North Carolina as a visiting Educom fellow, and
Carol A. Twigg, who joined Educom as vice president, began a
series of discussions that developed into the outline for the
National Learning Infrastructure Initiative (NLII). As with the
maturity of the NTTF, Educom moved beyond a focus on technology
and on to policy issues in higher education that required
rethinking in light of the ubiquity of personal computers and the
expansion of broadband networking. Under Twigg's guidance, the
NLII became both a lightning rod and a springboard for discussion
about the transformation of teaching and learning.
In concert with publishers, technology companies, and several
university groups, the NLII began work on the Instructional
Management System (IMS) to provide the fabric that would tie
together efforts to make high-quality instructional materials
available on the Internet. Under the leadership of Mark Resmer of
Sonoma State University and Steve Griffith of the University of
North Carolina, the IMS project operated as an entrepreneurial
effort to define a set of specifications for computer-mediated
learning materials. In addition to a $600,000 grant, the project
quickly acquired two dozen corporate and institutional partners,
which sustained the effort at $50,000 each per year.
The Software Awards program had become increasingly insular, and
in 1994 it metamorphosed into the Educom Medal Awards program.
Disciplinary societies were invited to join with Educom by
selecting one of their own members for national recognition of the
individual's efforts to use information technology for enhancement
of the undergraduate learning experience. Educom began awarding
four to six medals a year with major presentations at Educom's
annual conference and the annual meeting of the disciplinary
In the spring of 1997, CAUSE approached Educom with the idea of
renewing merger discussions because in spite of the effort to
differentiate programs, the inexorable integration of campus
technology efforts made a merger both logical and desirable.
Information technology was viewed holistically by member campuses,
and the value of a single organization representing campus
technology interests was inevitable. Through the summer and fall
of that year, a joint committee of the two organizations developed
a plan for consolidation of the organizations into EDUCAUSE, and
the plan was ratified by both memberships at their annual
As the united community of higher education information
technologists prepares for the 21st century, EDUCAUSE is well
positioned to continue and expand the leadership that Educom has
provided for the past three decades.
Theodore Roosevelt, the soft walker with the big stick, once
observed, "The credit belongs to the man who is actually in
the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who
knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends
himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the
triumph of high achievement, and if he fails, at least he fails
while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those
cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."
That seems a fitting epitaph for Educom and an appropriate
challenge for EDUCAUSE as it approaches the next millennium.