Today’s BU students take access to the Internet for granted, but they would hardly recognize the university’s first website, which is believed to be among the first 1,200 registered websites worldwide and the first five in Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education linked to the Internet in fall 1993. By 1994, developers nationwide were creating pages for the World Wide Web with text, graphics and sound that could be accessed through an Internet browser. Seeing the potential for the information that could be marketed through the Internet despite the common belief that the Web would be a passing fad, Bloomsburg’s University Advancement Office (known today as Marketing and Communications) formed an Information Highway Committee in summer 1994.
The committee’s proposal for creating a Web presence was formally issued in September of that year with the justification that “the Internet has great potential for serving as an important public information/communication tool for the university.” The overall project was called a Campus Wide Information System (CWIS) and referred to as The Web Project.
Timothy L. Phillips of the Department of Instructional Technology and Institute for Interactive Technologies (IIT), Geoff Mehl and Joan Lentzner from University Advancement, Bob Abbott from Academic Computing and Glenn Bieber from Computer Services were primarily responsible for coordinating the development of the website. Samples were shown at the Council of Trustees meeting on Dec. 14, 1994, and seven IIT graduate students got to work when final approval was given, under Phillips’ supervision.
Site development progressed throughout spring 1995 and members of the campus community were encouraged to open their Web browser and go to www.bloomu.edu to see the current status of the website with its simple text-based resources and a few graphics. The domain name, bloomu.edu, was chosen as bloomsburg was too long for an acceptable address.
The work was groundbreaking. At CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Switzerland where the Web was born in March 1989, one committee member recalls seeing a map with just three registered websites in Pennsylvania – Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pennsylvania and Bloomsburg. Major universities nationwide sought BU’s advice on managing information on the Web and the university home page captured national attention when Yahoo featured it as a new and interesting site.
From its beginnings as a prototype that provided basic information, the website has grown to become an essential source of university information for current and prospective students, parents, alumni and other visitors. Today, www.bloomu.edu is home to nearly 9,500 pages accessible from computers and mobile devices. •