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Release: Immediate

Information technology director takes leave to head NFS Internet program

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- William F. Decker, director of Information Technology Services for the University of Iowa, will take a two-year leave of absence to direct all Internet connections programs for the National Science Foundation (NSF) in Washington, D.C.

The appointment was announced by Dr. George Strawn, director of the Networking and Communications Research and Infrastructure Division of NSF.

Decker, who is also UI associate vice president for research, will assume his new duties April 1, 1998. As program director for NSFNET, he will be involved with NSF programs related to the Internet 2 project, a partnership of 108 universities that aims to create a computer network that is 100 times as fast as the Internet.

The UI is a member of the newly formed University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development, which is pushing the Internet 2 project. In addition, the UI is one of a number of universities connected to the NSF's high speed computer network known as the Very High Speed Backbone Network Service, or vBNS, which has become the backbone of the Internet 2 project.

Decker will also be involved in the Next Generation Internet project, a government effort designed to create a high-speed Internet backbone that will be 100 to 1,000 times faster than today's Internet.

"I'm tremendously excited to have this opportunity to be directly involved in the development of a national telecommunications infrastructure that many of us believe to be critically important to the future of higher education," Decker said. "When I return to the university, my direct experience in developing this new network will enhance the university's ability to capitalize on the opportunities it presents."

"This appointment is a well-deserved acknowledgment that Bill Decker is among the nation's leaders in information technology," said David J. Skorton, UI vice president for research. "It reflects well on the University of Iowa that a member of our staff has been chosen to participate in a program of this magnitude.

"It is part of Bill Decker's nature to be eager to perform this public service," Skorton said. "But it is just as important to point out that Bill sees this as a way to extend his service to the university. That speaks volumes about his commitment to the university, which he has served for nearly three decades."

While serving as NSFNET program director, Decker will remain a UI employee and will return to campus three to four days each month to consult with ITS staff members about projects and strategic planning. The UI will receive a grant from NSF for 85 percent of his salary with the remainder representing a grant match from the UI.

Skorton will name an acting ITS director in the near future. In addition, Decker will be naming a new deputy director of ITS sometime in December.