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Nota Bene


Mount Holyoke College News and Events Vista The College Street Journal Archives

February 8, 2002


Robert Barrett Memorial Service
Robert Edward Barrett Jr., former president of the Holyoke Water Power Company and the Western Massachusetts Electric Company and a member of the College's board of trustees for twenty years, died January 30 at the age of ninety-two. There will be a memorial service for him in Abbey Chapel on Saturday, February 9, at 2 pm. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Robert E. Barrett Scholarship Fund in care of MHC's development office. Mount Holyoke was an important part of Barrett's life. He was a friend and adviser to four Mount Holyoke presidents and, as a trustee, chaired a number of important committees. Among his many awards was Mount Holyoke's medal for distinguished service. Barrett's wife, Edeltraut Proske Barrett, received a master's degree from the College in 1938. She died in 1976. Barrett leaves two daughters (one of whom, Ingrid B. McDonough, received a master's degree from MHC in 1967), a son, five grandchildren, and a brother.

Going Down the Right Pipe
When MHC connected to the Internet in 1988, a single information pipeline carried all of the College's electronic data. That "T1" line, which was routed through the University of Massachusetts to an Internet service provider, offered plenty of space for all the information sent and received by the 100 or so people logging on each month. Within ten years, MHC's Internet pipelines, which had been expanded to two, were overloaded with data. (Envision an interstate highway in a constant state of rush-hour traffic, and you will understand the congestion of electronic information.) Although MHC replaced its T1 lines with larger, faster DS3 lines (the equivalent of removing stoplights from a highway's on-ramps), the College could suffer information overload again, says Michael Crowley, director of networking for Library, Information, and Technology Services (LITS). He estimates that 3,600 people at Mount Holyoke now log on to the Internet each month, and he calls music and video downloads "a growing problem."

Happily, Crowley and Cindy Legare, LITS assistant director, already have a solution under way. With administrative and faculty support, the two proposed and won a $150,000 grant from the National Science Foundation that will help fund Mount Holyoke's connection to the high-speed research-focused network called Internet2. Begun in 1996 as a project to enhance information sharing in the national research community, Internet2 is a collaboration of research universities, federal agencies, and communications companies. It is "a less traveled beltway around a congested urban area," Crowley says, and because it has restricted access (imagine private on-ramps), it gives educational institutions uncongested pipelines for academic material and opportunities to exploit high-performance network capabilities, such as media integration, interactivity, and real-time collaboration—capabilities unavailable or impractical on slow, crowded Internet lines.

MHC faculty are eager for those opportunities. Internet2 will give Professor of Physics Howard Nicholson direct access to the software applications he needs at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. It will create a distribution channel for the videos of embryonic fish development created by Rachel Fink, associate professor of biological sciences. It will enable Donal O'Shea, Elizabeth T. Kennan Professor of Mathematics and dean of faculty, to use live medical imaging with his colleagues at Yale University to test ideas about automating colon tumor detection. It will help Thomas Millette, associate professor of geography and director of the Center for Environmental Literacy, download large satellite images for his study of the effects of climate changes on coastal wetlands. It will expand collaborations by Associate Professor of Chemistry Sean Decatur with the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Chicago, and Los Alamos National Laboratory by allowing him to use real-time remote data collection and analysis. It will give the College's video-conferencing classroom equipment connection to Internet2 institutions beyond its current reach.

Internet2 is not the cure-all for an information-hungry society with a seemingly insatiable appetite, Legare cautions. She explains that Five Colleges, Inc., has hired a consultant to look at options for connectivity on all five campuses and present cost/benefit analyses of the various possibilities. Potential solutions include designating particular pipelines for particular kinds of information (labs, classrooms, and offices assigned to one "academic" line, dormitories to another) or installing equipment that would categorize and filter information on shared lines (like traffic cops, the filters would delay nonacademic material to let academic content pass through first). As the Five Colleges and academic institutions everywhere consider these and other solutions for the problems of information overload, gaining access to Internet2 will put Mount Holyoke a big step forward in supporting the flow of information that enriches the academic community. It gives faculty and students access to state-of-the-art facilities, equipment, research, and software around the country and the ability to collaborate more fully with the wider scientific community. "These are opportunities frequently found only in graduate and professional work," said Legare. "This is a real coup for Mount Holyoke."

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