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Seattle University


Second Life

Written by Mike Thee
September 27, 2011

Ever wonder what happens to your SU computer when it’s replaced with a new one? Well, if your number came up for a refresh in recent times, there’s a chance your previous unit is now being put to good use by one of the university’s key partners. 

Over the summer, the university donated nearly 300 computers, of which 249 were shipped to SU’s Jesuit sister school, the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA) in Managua, Nicaragua. Another 40 went to Bailey Gatzert Elementary School, Seattle University’s Youth Initiative partner. 

This is the second time in five years that SU has made a substantial computer donation to the UCA. The first came in 2006 when the university shipped 100 units to the university. Inspiration for the most recent donation came in 2009 when Dan Duffy, chief technology officer in the Office of Information Technology, participated in the Nicaragua Immersion Experience led by Joe Orlando, assistant vice president for Mission and Ministry. 

Returning to campus, Duffy worked closely with Bob Dullea, vice president for university planning, and his OIT colleagues, particularly Lester Wright, network manager, and Reggie Alencastro, user services support specialist, to make the transfer happen.  

This group of computers donated by SU to the Universidad Centroamericana in 2006 is being joined by 249 additional units the university donated over the summer.
“I want to express my sincere gratitude to Dan for his leadership, to Lester and Reggie for their hard work and to all others involved in making this idea come to fruition,” says Orlando. “These computers represent a valuable and substantial technology contribution to our sister Jesuit university, and will certainly enhance the educational mission and the learning and teaching opportunities for students, faculty and staff at the UCA.” 

Getting the computers to Managua was no small task. 

First, the university compiled a list of machines that had been taken out of service and asked the UCA to identify which computers would be most useful for their faculty and staff. Then, it was time to ready the machines for their second lives. The computers were re-imaged and re-loaded with Windows XP and Microsoft Office 2007 Spanish Language Pack. For some computers, parts of more than one machine were combined to make a reconditioned unit.  

“These machines left totally tested and operational,” Wright says. “I would guess they will be good for another four or five years, easy.” 

“It was also a very green project,” says Duffy. “We weren’t just taking these old computers and dumping them in a trash bin somewhere. They’re being put to good use and even the ones that UCA passed on were recycled and funding came back to the university.” 

Lenovo, SU’s computer manufacturer, agreed to cover the shipping costs, while Wright and others took care of the paperwork needed for the machines to clear customs. “Every time we thought we cleared the final hurdle, there were three more,” Duffy says with laugh.  

Shipping was not nearly as much of a challenge for the donation to Bailey Gatzert, where their 40 newly refurbished Macs are gratefully being welcomed into the elementary school. The four-year-old computers, which are much younger than the 10 to 12-year-old machines the school had been using, support the school’s growing emphasis on computer literacy. 

“This is yet another way that Seattle University is contributing to a positive learning environment for Bailey Gatzert Elementary School students,” says Kent Koth, director of the Seattle University Youth Initiative and the Center for Service and Community Engagement. “Computer literacy is critical for success in the 21st century; SU’s contribution of computers provides an opportunity for children to develop these critical skills.”  

For Wright, the Bailey Gatzert donation made for a “This Is Your Life” sort of moment as he attended the elementary school back in the 1970s. “I am happy to see that these systems will help out kids from my old neighborhood,” he says.