From day one, technology has played a role in Johnson & Wales’
existence. Gertrude Johnson and Mary Wales began their
educational venture with one student and a typewriter. Since then,
the institution has advanced its use of technology, often ahead of others in
Early on, students were trained on stenograph and adding machines to staff the region’s businesses.
The ’60s saw the advent of keypunch and data processing tools to supply binary cards for room-size
“computers.” In 1985, Professor Martin Sivula, PhD, was hired to bring technology into academics, and
Introduction to Computers became a required course.
“That was a major step,” notes Sivula, now director of research in the Alan Shawn Feinstein Graduate
School. “Every student had to know the basics of computer technology software as we defined it before
they left JWU undergraduate education.” Training began in database management, word processing and
Lotus spreadsheets as businesses replaced mainframes with PCs. State-of-the-art hospitality technology
in use at India’s TAJ Hotels was introduced at JWU. Between 1986 and 1987 some 5,000 to 6,000
students became acquainted with the next century’s industry tools. “We were producing some of the best
cutting-edge skill sets in students coming out of college that I’ve ever seen,” Sivula says.
The first degree offered in JWU’s new graduate school was computer science. James Crowley Jr. ’94,
one of the first Master of Science in Computer Education graduates, calls the university program “way
ahead of its time … We built computer learning systems … We were the pioneers who had the vision
for this new world of online learning,” Crowley, senior IT project manager for Broward County, Florida
Government, recently wrote.
Beyond JWU’s School of Technology, there are now computer labs on every campus. Classrooms are
equipped with audio and streaming video capabilities in every discipline. “Technology has gone from
being a tool to being a necessity,” says Donna LaPorte, who managed Providence computer labs for the
past 10 years.
Today there are more than 1,200 computers on the Providence Campus alone and two degree
programs are offered online. Pharos printing allows students to send documents to any printer on campus
with the swipe of a card. There are iPads in use in hospitality classrooms in North Miami and the retail
lab in Providence as well as POSitouch systems in the palms of culinary students. Students conference
face-to-face with faculty regularly through Skype.
“We’re career-oriented. Graduates well acquainted with the latest technology are much more
employable,” says Sivula. They were in 1914 and they are in 2011.
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