North Carolina Central University (NCCU) School of Library and Information Sciences Dean Jon Gant, Ph.D., has been named to the Federal Communication Commission’s Communication Equity and Diversity Council, an organization that focuses on diversity and equity in the tech sector.
“With the new federal funding to support broadband access in the U.S., communities will be able to bridge the digital divide and expand digital equity particularly as the economy has grown more dependent on internet access to connect workers and students remotely,” said Gant.
In this role, Gant will join council members in providing guidance on advancing equity and access to digital communication services and products. He will also serve as a subject matter expert for two working groups on innovation and access and digital empowerment and inclusion.
“I am humbled by this opportunity to work with the Communication Equity and Diversity Council to do what I can to make sure that every community in the country has access to affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband,” Gant continued.
“I will share with the Council what I have learned from helping communities develop digital equity strategies and build advanced broadband networks to reach underserved areas. I will also help the Council address the digital divide that limits the extent to which the benefits of broadband reach every person.”
Gant’s career includes conducting groundbreaking research in areas including, internet access and use, broadband adoption and new models for delivering digital literacy training in public libraries and community anchor institutions.
Before joining NCCU, he served as a faculty member at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he had been employed since 2007. He also previously held faculty positions at Syracuse University and Indiana University.
In 2009, he founded the Center for Digital Inclusion at the University of Illinois. Gant also served as board chair and senior executive officer at Urbana-Champaign Big Broadband, a University of Illinois-led public/private partnership funded by the Broadband Technology Opportunity Program to build one of the first municipal gigabit fiber broadband networks in the U.S.
Gant also serves as co-principal investigator for the US Ignite/National Science Foundation Smart Gigabit Community initiative that is building a nationwide test bed to develop applications for gigabit broadband networks. He established the Illinois Digital Innovation Leadership Program developing a scalable university-community public engagement model using community makerspaces and Fab Labs, public libraries, schools and museums to improve digital literacy skills statewide in digital fabrication, digital media production and data analytics.
His research is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, American Library Association, the Organization for Economic Coordination and Development, the International Telecommunication Union, the National Science Foundation, US Ignite, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, IBM, State Farm Insurance and others.
Gant received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Carnegie Mellon University and his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan.