WOU operates a primary DNS, along with several secondary DNS servers. The primary server runs on a Sun Microsystems server running Solaris 10. The secondary servers run on Cisco blade servers running RedHat Linux on top of VMware, a virtualization engine. The servers are configured and maintained by Dave Diemer, unix systems administrator.
DNS servers allow you to access a destination on the internet using words, rather than numbers. As an example, you can use http://www.wou.edu instead of http://126.96.36.199. There is a tool called nslookup that you can use to determine the ip address associated with a domain name. Another tool, dig, returns additional information, including which DNS servers can authoritatively respond with the ip address associated with the domain name.
There is a good document on the history and usage of Domain Name Servers here.