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Gift Supports Futuristic Technology for CMU's Health Professions Building

MOUNT PLEASANT - The first gift ever donated by ideaReserve, LLC, to an institution of higher learning has been given to Central Michigan University for the Health Professions Building.

The $100,000 gift will support educational technology and design of a futuristic "telepresence" room that will provide highly advanced learning experiences for students.

"It's a rare college or university that will step up and use this type of technology in classrooms," said Jonathan Kendall, chief innovation officer of ideaReserve, a Maryland and Colorado based consulting firm that specializes in helping builders of facilities properly integrate technology into their plans. "I've worked on more than 100 different campuses, and CMU's openness to using technology and integrating it into the undergraduate environment is unique."

The firm was hired to develop a plan for educational and information technology in CMU's new Health Professions Building and to help faculty who will be moving into the building. The potential of the new building prompted the gift from ideaReserve, said Kendall.

"CMU's new Health Professions Building will have an immersion classroom, bringing students up-to-date information from around the world," said Kendall. "Voice, data, cable, multimedia and infrastructure are brought together. It feels like the people and information on the screen are with you in the room. It is not a classic classroom with a screen. It's on an immersion wall, an experiential environment with screens knitted together."

The partnership between CMU and ideaReserve will help bring education, technology and health care together to provide students with an advanced learning environment, said Linda Seestedt Stanford, acting dean of The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow College of Health Professions.

"ideaReserve's philosophy of enhancing the academic mission by focusing on the student's learning process fits well with what we envisioned in the new building," said Stanford.

In recognition of the gift and pending CMU Board of Trustees approval, CMU plans to name the room The ideaReserve Global Telepresence Facility. The facility will provide comprehensive global uplink and downlink simulcast and broadcast capabilities, as well as an instructional environment for international cooperative education experiences. Digital instructional materials and programs will be created in the facility.

"Higher education is at a transition point," said Stephen Kopp, founding dean of the college and newly appointed provost at Ohio University. "In order to develop and refine higher-order thinking skills and the mental discipline required to think critically, analyze and problem-solve, active involvement of students in the learning process is essential.

"We need to rethink how class time is used. Traditional lectures are no longer sufficient. We need to design learning experiences that engage, challenge and inspire active learning. Students require settings and access to resources that promote and facilitate those experiences. ideaReserve is helping CMU achieve that goal," he said.

The facility also will support the Rural Telehealth and Community Education Network, which will improve the delivery of and access to health-care information for all Michigan residents, especially those in rural areas. CMU is making an investment in infrastructure and facilities to support the central hub of the network through the construction of the new health professions building.

Founded in 1999 by Kendall with partner and president Warren Arbogast, ideaReserve "truly pushed the envelope" in designing environments around technology and student learning experiences, according to Kendall.

"Our specialty is converging technology across the span of education, health care and research," said Kendall.

In 1985, Kendall developed the classroom of the future at the University of Maryland at College Park, then went on to start his own company, Kendall Associates, in 1988. By 1993 he started Integrex Systems Corp., which was acquired in 1997 by Daou Systems in California. 

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