Lincoln University is the first historically black degree-granting university in the United States and was founded in 1854. The university has over 2,200 students and 500 faculty and staff members that attend its 4220 acre main campus, located in rural Chester County, Pennsylvania. The main campus includes 46 buildings and has an additional graduate center in University City in Philadelphia for some 300 students. Lincoln’s Notable alumni include poet Langston Hughes; U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall; Nnamdi Azikiwe, the first president of Nigeria; and Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana. The university is led by its 14th president and Lincoln University alumna Brenda Allen, Ph.D.
The COVID-19 pandemic left Lincoln University, like most schools having to adapt to the “new normal” regarding its campus activities and learning environment. The unique circumstances that came along with COVID-19 and new online strategies increase the need for a stable, reliable wireless network. The university’s President, Dr. Allen was committed to ensuring that all students who reside on campus would have access to the full complement of university resources and a true college experience. Dr. Allen understood that experience was increasingly moving online, fundamentally necessitating a ubiquitous wireless network that would enable both delivery and receipt of all curricula, along with enabling. This was even more critical in a synchronous remote environment where students would be accessing lectures and other course materials from their dorm rooms or other campus locations using their devices of choice.
Lincoln University wanted to ensure that whenever people entered its campus, they would have access to the internet along with all university resources from any location. The goal Lincoln was looking to achieve was to create a truly wireless-ready environment with increased access and capacity across its indoor and outdoor spaces to enable students, faculty, and staff to be able to connect with any device, anywhere on campus. In order to achieve this goal also meant modernizing its learning management system, so that it could be accessed wirelessly, and redesigning the university website to be mobile-ready.
Lincoln University’s small IT team was faced with challenges due to their unstable and outdated wireless infrastructure consisting of 500 access points that were poorly designed. The most common student complaints were around poor coverage and performance varying from building to building, creating inconsistent network experiences. In addition to the challenges, the legacy infrastructure required significant time and effort to update firmware, upgrade controllers, install patches, and perform other maintenance and management tasks. The IT team knew that, in addition to upgrading its wireless infrastructure, it also needed a new, centralized management solution that could be accessed from anywhere.
When it came to choosing a solution, Lincoln considered several competitive solutions, but eventually chose to deploy a wireless solution from Extreme Networks. The university’s IT team began with deploying the ExtremeCloud IQ wireless network management solution along with Wi-Fi 6 access point through the campus. The solution had tremendous advantages in ease of use, deployment, and management, which was critical for their small IT team. The support from Extreme Networks and its local partner Howard Technology Solutions helped create a painless implementation process.
As a result of Lincoln University choosing Extreme’s solution, they now have a higher performing, more stable network infrastructure to support its students and faculty. The University has experienced zero Wi-Fi downtime since upgrading its network. The Extreme infrastructure has also enabled increased security features for the University’s network and its users, without any impact on performance.
“Extreme Networks allowed us to deliver this more easily once we migrated from our existing high-maintenance on-premises solution to the new infrastructure that can be managed remotely. It’s all part of our student success scenario. We want to minimize any and all barriers to student success and a new stable, secure infrastructure allows us to do that.”
Justin McKenzie, CIO, Lincoln University
Lincoln University’s future consists of a next phase rollout that will extend coverage to additional areas including athletic facilities, administrative buildings, and other indoor and outdoor spaces, many of which have never had any type of connectivity at all. In the end, the university will have a total of 600 access points deployed, covering the entire campus. Once complete, the school will have complete coverage across its entire campus and will be able to support not only its current campus activities but any new initiatives the future may bring.
For more information please take a look at Lincoln University’s case study: Lincoln University Takes Campus Wi-Fi to the Extreme