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National Advisory Group established for UTOPIA

An advisory group of regional and national technology experts has been established to further enhance the progression of UTOPIA, the University of Texas at Austin’s digital knowledge gateway.

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AUSTIN, Texas—An advisory group of regional and national technology experts has been established to further enhance the progression of UTOPIA, the University of Texas at Austin’s digital knowledge gateway.

Representatives from the University of Michigan, MIT, Cornell, the University of Pittsburgh and other national participants have agreed to join members from the University of Texas at Austin community to chart a course for UTOPIA over the coming years and to consider and advise on best practices for the rapidly expanding Web site.

Fred Heath, director of the University of Texas Libraries—which oversees UTOPIA, considers the addition of external perspectives to the project to be beneficial.

“UTOPIA has made great strides forward in its infancy,” says Heath. “The inclusion of perspectives from outside experts will encourage UTOPIA’s advancement and assure that it continues to evolve and grow.”

The 15-member group, whose commission was approved by University of Texas President Larry R. Faulkner in March, will meet biannually to consult on issues surrounding the three-year-old Web project and to provide suggestions for increasing its visibility and effectiveness.

Members of the group were asked to participate with the hope of representing a broad spectrum of institutions across the United States.

Charter members of the UTOPIA National Advisory Group are: Judy Ashcroft, associate vice president for the Division of Instructional Innovation and Assessment at The University of Texas at Austin; Andrew Dillon, dean of the School of Information at The University of Texas at Austin; William Gosling, university librarian at the University of Michigan; Jim Kerkhoff, assistant dean of the College of Fine Arts at The University of Texas at Austin; James Kunetka, assistant vice president of resource development at The University of Texas at Austin; Carl Lagoze, senior research associate at Cornell Information Science; Brenda Laurel, media design chair at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif.; Ellen Mandinach, associate director for research in the Center for Children and Technology at Education Development Center, Inc.; Anne Marguiles, executive director for MIT OpenCourseWare; Susan Metros, professor and deputy chief information officer at The Ohio State University; Rush Miller, the Hillman University Librarian at the University of Pittsburgh; Dan Mogulof, executive director of public affairs at the University of California, Berkeley; Paul Resta, Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the Department of Education at The University of Texas at Austin; David Seaman, executive director of the Digital Library Foundation; Thomas F. Staley, director of the Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin; Joseph Tenbarge, director of Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services at The University of Texas at Austin; Dan Updegrove, vice president for information technology at The University of Texas at Austin; and John Price Wilkin, associate university librarian, Library Information Technology and Technical and Access Services at the University of Michigan.

Laurie Bricker, a member of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and charter member of the University of Texas Libraries Advisory Council, will be a special liaison to the group.

Advisory Group member Dan Mogulof welcomes the opportunity to provide a third-party perspective on the fledgling project.

“At Berkeley, one of our primary interests is connecting with the public beyond the university community, and to achieve that we need to develop communication tools that appeal to a broader audience,” says Mogulof. “UTOPIA expresses the heart and soul of a university’s larger mission; it’s an example of institutional thinking on the broadest possible level. On this campus, the UC Berkeley ‘Interactive University Project’ and a variety of other initiatives are seeking to create a digital bridge between the public and the academic and cultural resources of the university. We see UTOPIA as living proof that the intellectual treasures of a major university aren’t just for eggheads, but are also relevant and useful to the external community whose support and engagement is essential to our institutional future.”

UTOPIA is a Web site established at The University of Texas to provide—free of charge—a guided experience through the university’s art galleries, museums, libraries and laboratories. Designed with the inquisitive visitor in mind, UTOPIA’s content is presented in an easy-to-use, navigable format, and includes content from such university resources as the Harry Ransom Center, the Blanton Museum of Art and the Texas Memorial Museum.

Initial funding for this project was provided through the generous support of the Houston Endowment, Inc.

For more information contact: Travis Willmann, University of Texas Libraries, 512-495-4644.