Liberal arts colleges want to provide the greatest academic opportunities to our students, and provide faculty with the tools necessary to present these opportunities in their undergraduate courses. In this context, liberal arts colleges must continually investigate and assess the importance of technology to the educational and research goals of our institutions. Recent and ongoing technological developments pose challenges and questions that we must address. What facilities do we need to make available to faculty for use in their research? What technology use should be encouraged by our students? How are new digital tools changing interdisciplinarity and the ways in which faculty collaborate? What impact do these changes have on our institutions?
A number of recent publications have addressed aspects of these technologically motivated shifts in the academy. These include discussion of institutional change and participatory learning , the role of digital scholarship , and the specific impact of new technologies on the humanities and social sciences . However, one area not specifically addressed is the potential role of high performance computing at liberal arts colleges.
Supported by a grant from the Teagle Foundation, a consortium of six liberal arts colleges in central New York State (Appendix A) undertook an investigation of whether students and faculty at small liberal arts colleges would benefit from having available powerful, highperformance computing (HPC) technology. We also endeavored to determine what would be the best way to provide this capability, taking into account all costs, including those associated with infrastructure and support. The participating liberal arts colleges, close in size, form a natural cohort connected by similar academic curricula in the sciences, humanities, and social sciences, a strong commitment to undergraduate research, and geographic location (central and eastern New York State).