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UEN: millions served, every day

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 9 2013 9:52 p.m. MDT

UEN CEO Ray Timothy oversees a technology network that connects Utah educators from all corners of the state.

Lee Benson

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SALT LAKE CITY — Few people know Utah education like Ray Timothy.

A former fifth-grade teacher and native of the small northern Utah town of Garland, he earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah, his master’s degree from Brigham Young University and his Ph.D. from Utah State University. After that, he taught at four elementary schools and a middle school, followed by stints as a vice principal or principal at two more elementary schools and a high school. He then sandwiched four and a half years as deputy superintendent in the State Office of Education between stints as superintendent in the Millard and Park City school districts.

He’s worked for more schools than Urban Meyer.

And now?

Now he’s working for all of them.

It’s been a year since Timothy, 59, left his post in Park City to take over as CEO and executive director of the Utah Education Network — UEN for short — the statewide collaboration that connects Utah schools, colleges, applied technology campuses and libraries. After conducting a nationwide search for a successor to outgoing director Mike Petersen, the UEN board discovered precisely what it was looking for right here at home.

Timothy jumped at the chance to take over the helm of an organization he’d long admired and utilized while wearing his many hats during his three-plus decades as an educator around the state. Better than most, he knew that while Utah may not lead the nation in class size, or expenditure per child, or teacher salaries, when it comes to being connected in the Internet Age, the Beehive state is in a class all its own. In an exclusive conversation with the Deseret News, the new UEN chief explains why.

DN: Thank you for visiting with us. First, could you please describe in layman’s terms what UEN is.

RT: Simply put, it is a network of technology and people that connects students, educators and anyone else associated with education throughout the state of Utah.

DN: And it does that how?

RT: Through network infrastructure that carries high-speed data and applications to communities, schools and libraries via the Internet and our television station, KUEN-TV. There are very few places in the state that are not connected to UEN. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Blanding or Bountiful, you have the same access to resources.

DN: What types of services are provided?

RT: It’s really a wide range. Beyond the myriad of information available through the Internet, UEN also connects classrooms. For example we connect high school students in Orderville to professors at USU in Logan. UEN connects teachers to interactive training tools so they teach more effectively. UEN connects colleagues via videoconferencing so they don’t have to leave their campuses for meetings. UEN connects teachers and students to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) resources. UEN connects schools to 19,000 videos, images and documents that are instantly available online. UEN connects parents and educators via classroom websites. And it’s all available day and night, seven days a week.

DN: That is no small audience.

RT: True. In fact, if UEN were a school district, it would rank in the top three nationally in the number of students served. New York City is No. 1 with 1.4 million students. Los Angeles is No. 2 with nearly 700,000 students, but UEN would be No. 3 with over 600,000 public school students. And that’s just public ed students. UEN also serves more than 200,000 students in college and applied technology. We serve 64,000 educators and staff from schools through universities. We also provide resources for Utah’s 285,000 preschoolers under the age of 6. In addition we serve Utah public libraries and our TV station reaches over 900,000 households. It adds up to well over a million students, educators, library patrons and viewers statewide.

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