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Microsoft Dubs UMass Amherst First 'IT Showcase School'

The University of Massachusetts in Amherst has been named Microsoft’s first “IT Showcase School,” garnering an $11 million donation for various initiatives as part of the award.
Microsoft chief executive officer Steve Ballmer, who went to university in Massachusetts (Harvard), returned to Massachusetts Friday to designate the University of Massachusetts in Amherst as Microsoft’s first “IT Showcase School.”

Microsoft and the state university’s flagship campus also detailed new areas of collaboration in which information technology is employed to improve the delivery of educational materials and engage students.

“By recognizing UMass Amherst as a Microsoft IT Showcase School, we see the university as a true pacesetter in higher education, committed to providing an array of additional learning resources tailored to students’ specific needs,” Ballmer said in a statement. Microsoft has given the campus about $11 million for various initiatives, he said.

Ballmer outlined areas of collaborative interest including the Information Technology Program, which enables students across-the-board to minor in IT while majoring in their chief field of study, and the IT Curriculum Case Studies program, which delivers videoconferencing and interactive table PC applications at the Isenberg School of Management.

Another effort called Learning Commons supports a 23,000-square-foot space in the university’s W. E. B. Du Bois library for collaborative work and social interaction. The Women in Technology Initiatives program encourages women’s studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Microsoft will also support the Umass Center for Teaching, which encourages faculty and staff to exchange knowledge, often with the use of Tablet PC and other technologies.

Ballmer hasn’t slighted Harvard, the school where he and Bill Gates, Microsoft chairman and chief software architect, forged a friendship that has continued for decades. They recently visited the $25 million building they donated to Harvard.