Cameron University’s Lawton and Duncan campuses now connect seamlessly to each other thanks to OneNet and the Oklahoma Community Anchor Network (OCAN). Because of this direct connection, the Duncan campus can now offer more reliable courses for its remote learning options and the university has a stronger business continuity plan.
Cameron University’s Duncan campus was established in 1994 and became an official branch in 2004. As a branch established nearly 100 years after Cameron’s Lawton campus, the Duncan campus aims to provide its students with a top quality education with caring and qualified staff. Like technology, Cameron University has changed exponentially over the last 100 years. The main campus and the Duncan branch collectively provided services to over 5,000 students in the 2015-2016 academic year.
Through OneNet’s connection with OCAN, Cameron University’s two campuses are now able to operate as if they were in the same location, rather than 35 miles apart.
“Before this project, we had to have two separate networks in order to keep both campuses operational,” said Richard Colavito, network administrator for Cameron University.
OCAN is a grant-funded statewide fiber network that is managed by OneNet. The fiber became fully operational in 2013 and provides fiber connectivity options for community anchor institutions, such as universities, libraries and public safety agencies, in Oklahoma’s rural counties.
Cameron’s two campuses are located on the OCAN route, which allows them to be connected directly to one another. Previously, the two campuses would’ve had to purchase an additional separate connection between the two cities to achieve the same seamless network connectivity, which was cost-prohibitive.
Since the OCAN connection to the branch campus in 2013, Cameron University has benefited in a variety of ways. These new advantages allow the university to focus on students and faculty, rather than internet problems and budgetary restraints.
“If we had to cover the cost of the fiber connection, at any speed to our satellite campus, it would be prohibitive to our university and would limit our ability to service the city of Duncan and Stephens County,” said Kelly McClure, Cameron’s director of information technology services.
The direct connection allows leaders at Cameron to provide a better and more reliable network for distance learning classes. These classes include courses from across subjects in the course catalog. Distance learning allows students to receive a quality education, regardless of whether or not they currently live in Lawton. These students simply watch a professor lecture from a remote classroom or computer, allowing faculty to expand the scope of students they can teach. This connection of campuses allows students to be more successful in the classroom, thus in their college careers.
In addition to improving educational opportunities, the new connection provides an additional data safety net in case of network loss. In Oklahoma, the weather is unpredictable, which makes internet networks vulnerable during natural disasters. Cameron’s connection allows each campus to back up their valuable data at the other campus’ site, improving their business continuity planning. This redundancy ensures relevant information is always secure and minimizes the costs associated with extra backup hardware and storage. This redundant network enables leaders at Cameron to focus more on ensuring students have the best education possible.
Another way OneNet is creating cost savings and improving services for Cameron is through redundant network systems. The campuses are able to utilize OneNet generators, which help to keep the system up and running, as well as establish a solid foundation for Cameron’s internet services.
“OneNet’s upgrade helps provide peace of mind that there is always good, clean power at our Duncan campus for our equipment,” said Colavito.
While Colavito appreciates the technology upgrades working with OneNet provides, he says the true value of working with OneNet is in its people.
“Aside from the networking and power services, OneNet’s best assets are its people. Whether you are dealing with Robert, Andrew, Frank, Von or others that work at OneNet, you get an experience of someone not just working an issue but someone who is working with you. They make you feel that they are part of your team,” said Colavito.
Providing advanced technology services to institutions such as Cameron is not just day-to-day business at OneNet. It’s part of the team’s mission to advance technology across Oklahoma.
“OneNet is committed to our higher education partnership in Oklahoma, and we strive to ensure Cameron University has the connectivity required to provide exceptional educational opportunities to its students,” said Von Royal, executive director of OneNet. “This link will take the students at Cameron University to the next level.”
Photos courtesy of Cameron University.
Story by Katelyn Niles