Discussions of IT in higher education tend to come in one of two flavors: IT is the money pit of infrastructure or IT is the strategic tool critical to lowering the cost of higher education. It seems clear that the two are not mutually exclusive, but too often the conversation never moves beyond the cost of IT or the promise of cost reduction through IT.
Once in a while, we happen to have that conversation in the presence of academics, professors, or others involved in student learning, and they insist (and rightly so) that a third flavor be added to the mix: the capacity of IT to transform teaching and learning.
Presidents and trustees need to know about all three of these elements of IT. It is not just a cost, not just a pathway to efficiency, or a way to transform our core enterprise. It’s all three, and the interplay between the three is nothing short of dynamic—and sometimes dramatic. And the stakes can be startlingly high when we start to think about the reputational and monetary costs of a breach or the tragedy of students who don’t succeed where integrated planning and advising tools could have made the difference.
We are convinced that the best way to understand the risks associated with IT is through an enterprise risk management approach, and the best way to fully realize the benefits of IT involves working collaboratively across higher education’s well-worn silos and traditional constraints.
We believe successful IT in higher education depends on:
- collaboration with academic leaders and faculty,
- deeper strategic relationship between IT and other c-suite campus leaders,
- a shared understanding of what IT can and can’t do to advance the mission of our colleges and universities.
In fact, we believe successful higher education depends on it.