Sounds like a fun class, I was a CS minor, but I never got around to taking Networks, just OS/Datastructures/AI etc. Bummer. Your admin does sound like an idiot. The reason to say 'no' to a Linksys in an environment like mine have mostly to do with support (4 hour RMA), interference with other devices (our Cisco APs all talk to each-other), and management (I want to enforce security policy on you). Who cares if Cisco bought Linksys
Its the same reason why our server admins want all HPs, because they already have a shop full of HPs, support agreements etc. Not because HP is magical. There's always the option to change, but in a large enterprise, a homogeneous environment greatly reduces cost IMHO.
Then again if I worked in an academic environment I'd be a lot less of a hardass, I work in Healthcare.