Wilkes University: Explaining the Switch to Mac



Wilkes University Wilkes-Barre, PA, is about to become one of the first colleges to make a complete switch from Windows PCs to new Intel Macs. Over the next three years, Wilkes will become an all-Mac campus — a $1.4 million switch involving 1,700 computers. The reason? To save money. The college will buy fewer machines and expects to spend less on support.

Scott Byers, vice president for finance and general counsel at Wilkes, answered a few questions by email, explaining the reason for the switch and the reaction from students and staff.

“Students seem to like the change and recognize Apple as an innovator in technology,” he said. “This generation of students has a great affinity for the Apple brand.”

Whose idea was it to switch to Macs?“¨The idea was generated as we solicited bids for our annual technology refresh program. Every three years we replenish all 1,700 computers on campus. Apple introduced us to their Intel-based Macs and we saw it as an opportunity to provide Apple and Windows operating systems in one machine for the campus community. The benefits to the end user were obvious. Students and faculty could choose the platform they needed and wanted based on their individual computing needs. We also saw an opportunity to reduce the number of machines on campus and therefore create more efficient use of computer labs. We soon realized the question wasn’t ‘why make the switch,’ but ‘why not?’

Was there any resistance?ҬWe are an institution whose mission is to establish personal relationships so we worked closely with our faculty and staff to make sure we had a general consensus in moving forward with Apple.

Your stated reason was to save money. Were there any other advantages or disadvantages?ҬBeing more efficient was a desire but we felt it had many other advantages;
1) Allowed the user to choose the desired operating system
2) offered the potential to enhance teaching and learning using Apple’s iLife software
3) created a standard base that our IT department could work with consistently rather than Dells, Gateways, HP and Apples
4) reduced the number of units necessary for campus and the number of units requiring potential service and replacement.

What was the reaction to the news like from staff and students?ӬStudents seem to like the change and recognize Apple as an innovator in technology. This generation of students has a great affinity for the Apple brand. Staff have embraced the change as well. We anticipate additional support from the campus community by providing training on the educational benefits of Apple software.

A couple of years ago, universities and schools were switching away from Macs. Do you think we’ll see more switch back?“¨I think so. Apple has made inroads in the personal computer market with an operating system that one could argue is superior to Windows. The switcher approach allows campuses to access both platforms from one unit. Again, I would pose the question why wouldn’t a campus make the switch? The visual, user-friendly nature of Apple-based programs, along with iTunes and other lifestyle programs, has aligned well with the current and incoming generation of college students.

Any additional comments?
I’d like to add that Wilkes has long been a leading provider of graduate education for teachers. We offer master’s degree and certificate programs in classroom technology and instructional technology. At the core of those programs is an emphasis on computer skills and also leadership skills so teachers can implement crucial technology upgrades in their respective schools.
Our partnership with Apple will be a vital part of providing cutting-edge, quality education in the way of instructional technology for today’s teachers.

6 responses to “Wilkes University: Explaining the Switch to Mac”

  1. BdeRWest says:

    Leander, I love your articles, but I must point out, Wilkes University is in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. (sister city to Scranton), not Philly!

  2. j says:

    Wilkes isn’t in Philadelphia, it’s 2 1/2 hours away in Wilkes-Barre, PA. It’s “in” Philadelphia as much as New York City is “in” Philadelphia.

  3. Gary says:

    To quote a phrase from the film ‘4th of July’ by Randy Quaid, “Hadn’t I been saying the same damn thing for ten years.”