San Antonio — The SBC Foundation has awarded St. Mary’s University a $1 million grant to bring the benefits of leading-edge telecommunications, an essential driving force in business, technology and science, to the technologically underserved segments of the greater San Antonio community.

Leaders representing the City of San Antonio, St. Mary’s and the neighborhoods around the University participated in a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 12 to inaugurate the SBC Center for Information Technology at St. Mary’s, the oldest institution of higher learning in San Antonio. The high-tech resource center will be a gateway for academic research and education, promoting interactive learning opportunities necessary in a knowledge-based economy. The SBC Foundation has teamed with St. Mary’s through its Excelerator program, which awards grants to nonprofit organizations focused on improving technology access, education and work force development.

“The vitality of our community depends on new opportunities generated by first-rate education systems, economic growth and innovative uses of technology,” said Laura Sanford, president of the SBC Foundation. “Our goal is to make sure that people throughout the community have access to technology,” Sanford said.

The SBC Center for Information Technology features a telecommunications meeting room that will accommodate 90 persons, two multimedia equipped master classrooms, one smart classroom designed for engineering applications and two mid-sized conference rooms, all served by a central digital satellite television system. Through communications technology and the Internet, the SBC Center will serve a diverse population of students, educators, nonprofits, small businesses, educational institutions and neighborhood groups.

With the addition of the three technology-enhanced classrooms in the SBC Center,
St. Mary’s has 25 technology classrooms. The instructional technology includes laptop and desktop computers with wireless or wired Internet connections, DVD players, VCRs, document cameras and projectors.

“A primary goal of St. Mary’s and the SBC Foundation is to place the latest communications tools within the grasp of those who need it for career and workforce preparation
– students who graduate and those joining the job market,” said Charles L. Cotrell, Ph.D., president of St. Mary’s.

SBC Communications Inc. has a long tradition of partnering with communities it serves to strengthen educational systems, facilitate economic development and find ways to use technology creatively. The foundation is an independent entity funded by SBC Southwest.

The 7,750 square-foot SBC Center is adjacent to the St. Mary’s Learning and Leadership Development Center (LLDC), 3141 Culebra Road, which offers adult literacy programs in partnership with the city of San Antonio. Together with the Memorial Branch Public Library, located directly across the street from the Culebra entrance to St. Mary’s campus, the new SBC Center and the LLDC will form a synergistic learning environment – commonly called an information-communication triad – that would reach out to people, especially those seeking digital literacy and access to new technology.

Building footprint

  • One story building @ 7,750 sq. ft.
  • Construction costs: $1.2 million
  • Total project costs: $1.6 million

Special features

  • 1 telecommunications meeting room / seating capacity 90 persons
  • 2 master classrooms @ 800 sq. ft. / seating capacity 35 each
  • 1 smart classroom (engineering applications) @ 800 sq. ft. / seating capacity 35
  • 2 mid-size conference rooms / seating capacity 35 each
  • Satellite television downlink system

Learning opportunities

  • Enhanced learning environment for St. Mary’s engineering students
  • Student presentation to area business leaders through St. Mary’s Small Business Institute

St. Mary’s 21st Century Leadership Center will offer:

  • Telecommunications leadership seminars for college students at Instituto Technologico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente (ITESO) in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico

Community services

St. Mary’s School of Business and Administration will offer:

  • Income tax preparation for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program
  • Entrepreneurial courses for the general public
  • Free enterprise programs for area high school students, teachers

St. Mary’s School of Science, Engineering and Technology will offer:

  • Summer 2004 engineering courses for area high school students, teachers
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