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U.Va. Launches Program To Give Laptop Computers To Students With Needs

August 23, 2000 -- The University of Virginia will distribute for the first time this fall free personal computers to entering students with needs.

The Laptops for the Students Program will provide personal computers to first-year students with special academic or significant financial needs to use while enrolled in U.Va. About 100 Dell Latitude laptops and 10 Apple PowerBooks will be distributed to students during "Move-In Day" on Saturday, Aug. 26, and on Sept. 6.

The new program is a collaboration among U.Va.'s Vice President for Student Affairs and Financial Aid Offices and the Division for Information Technologies and Communication (ITC). As ITC representatives worked with potential vendors to obtain computers through a large-scale effort known as the University's Desktop Computing Initiative, they requested that firms donate 25-50 computers annually to U.Va. for distributing to students who could not afford to purchase such equipment.

"Although every bid ITC received for this contract included donations for students with financial and special academic need, Dell and Apple were selected because of their generosity," said assistant dean Cornelius "Neil" Bynum.

Dell has agreed to donate 50 laptops annually to the University, and Apple has agreed to provide at least 10 annually. Therefore, in three years there will be more than 200 laptopcomputers available for students' use.

"We are fortunate to be able to provide computers to qualified students who will benefit academically from this program," said Sharlene Sajonas, associate director in U.Va.'s Office of Financial Aid.

Students who wish to be considered for the free computers complete an application form and financial aid forms. Representatives of U.Va.'s Financial Aid Office identify potential recipients based on students' demonstrated financial need as determined by federal financial aid guidelines and University policies. An eight-member committee appointed by William Harmon, vice president for student affairs, reviews the applications and selects students to receive the laptops as they begin fall classes.

Students receiving the laptops must sign statements agreeing to take care of the computers and to return them to the University when they leave or graduate.

SPECIAL NOTICE REGARDING PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES: Computers will be distributed to students from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 26, in the Student Activities Building. There will likely be significant numbers of students at the site between 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Because of sensitivities involved in identifying individuals with special needs who may be under 18, photographers must obtain written permission of the students. Permission slips will be available on site.

Contact: Ida Lee Wootten, (804) 924-6857

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: please contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services


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