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KNOXVILLE — A new agreement between Dell, the number one provider of computer systems to the education market in the United States, and the University of Tennessee will place the university at the national forefront of information technology education and research, UT officials said Thursday.

UT President J. Wade Gilley said the agreement between UT and the Texas-based computer company will offer the university state-of-the art equipment, service and support. In exchange, UT laboratories, faculty and other educational resources will be available for Dell research and development.

Gilley said UT and Dell leaders will meet twice yearly to discuss strategies and product development geared toward higher education.

UT will help Dell zero-in on technological demands of higher education institutions and develop new products and services to meet the needs of colleges and universities, Gilley said.

The partnership will help UT towards its goal of becoming a national leader in information technology and a top 25 research university, he said.

“Our relationship with Dell will help establish the new standards for technological excellence among the nation’s colleges and universities in the 21st century,” Gilley said.

“Not only are we helping establish the new standards, but UT also will be among the first to actually implement them into the research and educational curriculum at our university.”

Gary Enzor, general manager of Dell-s higher education division, said company consultants and technical support will help UT upgrade networks, services and computer systems and to collaborate on special research projects.

“As the leading computer supplier to the U.S. education market, we are excited to begin working with the University of Tennessee on new research and development,” Enzor said.

“As we continually strive to improve our award-winning products and services, we will utilize this opportunity to gain an even deeper understanding of the specific needs of the higher education market through this agreement and make the appropriate enhancements to our offerings.”

UT’s strategic relationship with Dell also will:
— Set up product development laboratories at UT, such as a Development Wireless Lab where faculty will test new wireless communications technologies and conduct related research. UT will update the labs with the latest technology every 18 months.
— Create several student computing and curriculum initiatives, including collaboration with UT’s Career Services to establish student internship programs and enhance recruitment of UT students for employment at Dell.
— Provide UT staff, faculty and departments discounts on Dell products such as desktop computers, notebooks, servers and data storage devices. An online purchasing agreement will allow UT staff, faculty and departments to purchase Dell products online and offer several financing options.

Dell Computer Corporation (Nasdaq: DELL) is the world’s leading direct computer systems company, based on revenues of $30 billion for the past four quarters, and is a premier provider of products and services required for customers to build their Internet infrastructures.

The company ranks No. 56 on the Fortune 500, No. 154 on the Fortune Global 500 and No. 3 on the Fortune “most admired” lists of companies. Dell designs, manufactures and customizes products and services to customer requirements, and offers an extensive selection of software and peripherals. Information on Dell and its products can be obtained on the World Wide Web at www.dell.com.

1. Sources: Gartner/Dataquest US PC Quarterly Statistics, Q2 2000, Harte-Hanks Market Intelligence, Projected Market Report, 2Q 2000