OARnet hosts spring 2024 Member Meeting in conjunction with OHECC

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Jun 11, 2024) — 

OARnet hosted its semi-annual Member Meeting on May 22 in conjunction with the Ohio Higher Education Computing Council (OHECC) annual conference held at The University of Akron in Akron, Ohio. The meeting provided an opportunity for OARnet and its partners to share information and generate discussion on topics impacting higher education institutions.  

OARnet leadership provided updates on hardware and service upgrades for member institutions: 

  • Engineering staff continue to transition the statewide fiber-optic network to 400 Gigabits per second (Gbps) capacity to accommodate the growing volume of network traffic, particularly in the area of peering.  
  • Leadership continues to learn about the new VMware by Broadcom model and engage with their team to explore the best solution. 
  • After implementing a significant rate cut last year, OARnet is not making any changes to member rates for fiscal year 2025. 
  • The organization continues to increase cybersecurity offerings by issuing a Request for Proposals for new services this summer and will be evaluating proposals to identify aggregate purchasing opportunities. 
  • Executive Director Pankaj Shah also announced that the Ohio Department of Higher Education has approved for a second year OARnet’s internship program for workforce development designed to prepare more college students for in-demand networking jobs in the state of Ohio.  

The pilot program, which was funded by The Ohio State University’s 5G and Broadband Connectivity Center (5G-OH) and Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER), allowed seven Ohio State students to intern with OARnet. The organization retained several of those interns in student jobs after the program’s completion in September 2023.  

“The internship pilot program was extremely successful, and I’m grateful to the staff at OARnet who helped grow it,” Shah said. “Educating students in advanced networking is extremely important for us.” 

OARnet will be finalizing details of the second year of the program over the summer so that recruitment can begin in fall 2024. 

In addition to updates from OARnet leadership, the Spring Member Meeting also featured two panel discussions: 

  • Mark Lecher, education account manager for Esri, a global leader in geographic information systems (GIS), discussed the company’s higher education program, which provides discounts on software and learning resources for teaching and research. In the state of Ohio, OARnet oversees the primary educational site license program for Esri, which allows for unlimited use of ArcGIS and other products. R. Benjamin Gorham, research data and GIS specialist at Case Western Reserve University, and Tina Stuchell, executive director of IT and chief information officer for University of Mount Union, talked about how their institutions use ArcGIS. 

  • Jim Burke, chief information officer at John Carroll University, John Ellinger, chief information officer at Bowling Green State University, and Standish Stewart, vice president and chief information officer at Cuyahoga Community College, discussed the state of information technology at higher education institutions across Ohio. The conversation highlighted how IT leaders are navigating infrastructure upgrades and resource management, as well as staffing, budget and enrollment challenges. In addition, they discussed the opportunities and risks of using artificial intelligence in the higher education setting.  

The next OARnet Member Meeting will be held Thursday, Nov. 14, at OARnet’s headquarters in Columbus, Ohio.  

By Andrea Gibson


  • Giveaway items on a table
  • Pankaj Shah speaks in front of the meeting
  • Pankaj Shah smiles while speaking from the lectern
  • Attendees at the Member Meeting
  • Aaron Wise speaks from the lectern
  • Dave Ginn speaks from the lectern
  • Denis Walsh speaks from the lectern
  • Three people sit at a table as part of the Esri panel discussion
  • Three people sit at a table as part of the State of IT in Ohio panel discussion
  • State of IT in Ohio panelists at a table
  • Toni Capocciama presents a panelist with a thank you gift
  • Members of the OARnet team

Since 1987, OARnet has delivered technology-based solutions that reduce costs, increase productivity and improve customer service. As a division of the Ohio Department of Higher Education's Ohio Technology Consortium (OH-TECH), OARnet serves Ohio's education, health care, public broadcasting and government communities. Other members of the consortium include the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) and the Ohio Library and Information Network (OhioLINK).