Eckerd makes tophigh-tech listings

Published December 17, 2006

Eckerd College is hot-wired.

The Princeton Review and PC Magazine have determined the liberal arts college on 54th Avenue S ranks among the nation's most high-tech campuses.

The magazine ranked Eckerd No. 18 after 240 colleges and universities completed a survey from the Princeton Review, recognized as the top national test preparation and educational services company.

Eckerd was the only Florida school to make the list.

Its lofty ranking doesn't reflect arcane technology as much as it does service to the people attending the college, officials said.

"It's how we connect to our students," said David Pawlowski, Eckerd's Instructional Technology Services director.

The school arranges to repair PCs for free, for example. At a repair center, students take care of their peers.

"We have students bring their grandmas' PCs and get them taken care of, Pawlowski said.

The school, partly because of its small student population - about 1,700 - also allows Xboxes, which are electronic game consoles.

"Personal experience is one of the core values of the college. Taking away something they use at home is counter to what the college is about. It's little things like that I think PC Magazine really picked up on," said Casey Paquet, Eckerd's Web manager.

Triton.connect, another of the college's services, offers a social networking device and information portal for incoming freshman.

It began three years ago and was started quickly, another tribute to Eckerd's small size and relative lack of red tape.

"Being small, we have a great luxury. We can see something new on the horizon and move it through pretty fast and take some risks," Paquet said.

The move succeeded and 13 other schools around the nation have picked up on the idea, he said.

The package has impressed those who do the rankings.

Three years ago, Eckerd had made it no further than No. 350.