I think the whole of idea of using linux and foss in education is a great one. I work in a university and it is an issue I always encounter. My personal experience has been that those who do high-performance computing and computational modelling in science have often completely embraced linux as their platform and become convinced by the utility of open-source. Some, but certainly not all, of the IT people who run departmental servers and so on, are advocates of linux and open-source. However, most students, teaching staff and professors are for various reasons, but primarily force of habit, think that their choices are limited to windows vs mac, and that if they want any good software they have to be prepared to spend large sums of money. People are always reluctant to change, it seems.
In case you hadn't heard about it, there is a project called edubuntu: http://www.edubuntu.org/
It is ubuntu designed for schools. From what I know of it, it is aimed at children's schools, rather than colleges.