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EDUCAUSE Southwest Regional Conference 2007. Summary:The CIO Perspective on Changes & Challenges-Opportunities for Collaboration

Closing General Session
2007 Southwest Regional Conference
Friday, February 23, 2007
Panel: The CIO Perspective on Changes and Challenges: Opportunities for Collaboration
Moderator: Loretta M. Early, Associate VP for Information Technology, University of Oklahoma
  • Pierce E. Cantrell, Vice President & Associate Provost for Information Technology, Texas A&M University
  • Jenifer Jarriel, VP for Information Technology & CIO, Baylor College of Medicine
  • Kamran M. Khan, Vice Provost for Information Technology, Rice University
  • Sam Segran, Associate Vice President for IT & CIO, Texas Tech University
IT leadership has always been important, but given the challenges facing higher education, it is essential for not only cost-effective operations but long-term strategic success. A panel of four Texas CIOs will discuss significant issues in higher education IT and provide practical examples of how they can be addressed effectively through collaborative initiatives. Examples will include approaches for identifying opportunities, engaging leadership, and building effective partnerships with external/internal stakeholders.
Jenifer Jarriel spoke on relationships and communication strategies.
Soft skills, communication is “all” when you are working with other people and in collaborations. There is energy and success when communication is good. Otherwise things often fail.
Jarriel referenced “Collaboration Audit” from The Leadership Challenge; How to Keep Getting Extraordinary Things Done in Organizations by Barry Z. Posner and James M. Kouzes. This book talks about fostering collaboration. The Collaboration Audit is for a whole group of issues or a specific collaborative issue. It frames an individual’s or group’s ability to successfully collaborate.
Trust is important as well and Jarriel mentioned Stephen Covey’s new book and his belief that trust, speed, and cost are factors in high performing organizations. If you have low trust there is low speed and therefore more cost. When we listen to others, it must be done in the framework where we trust and respect people in general and our collaborators in specific. It is helpful to listen attentively as the better listener you are, the better they will listen to you in return. (Stephen Covey -
Another point for good communication is to have clarity of your goals. You can’t succeed if you don’t know what you’re supposed to do. And we need to know how will we know when we’ve reach the goal.
We must rely on each other to make all successful. Therefore good trust and communication is vital to the process.
Jarriel said we must give credit for other’s ideas and work. She suggest using “we” not “I” in conversations as this covertly engages people so they understand they are a part of the activity/process and share credit.
Another guideline was to treat every relationship as if it is a life-long relationship, even if it is not. This is a good way to develop the best relationships regardless of the time it will be active.
It is important to share information. Everyone needs to be fully aware. No one likes to be kept in the dark about a project or issues or to be in advertently surprised by information they should have been aware of in their work.
Jarriel also suggested that it is important to relate to others with different backgrounds, perspectives, expertise, etc., because we need diversity and dialogue to form the best ideas and make the best decisions.
Her closing points were:
  • Build the relationship before you need it.
  • Communicate to understand – not just be understood
  • Hearing isn’t listening
  • Make every interaction a positive one
  • Pay attention to your actions, they speak louder than words.
  • Choose the right communication channel
  • Blended communication plans are very necessary
Pierce Cantrell spoke on IT Governance
Cantrell opened his remarks with four questions.
Who makes which decisions?
Who provides inputs and analyses issues?
Who implements the results of the decisions?
Who settles disputes when there is no clear consensus?
--producing timely decisions, responsible actions, and reasonable results
IT governance is on the “top ten list” of issues to campus leaders.
The EDUCAUSE Core Data shows that we get input from all most all groups on our campus.
But Cantrell asks, Do your campus community and administration understand your IT Governance structure?
Does the CIO sit on, or interact regularly, with the executive cabinet, provost, deans, and department chairs?
He suggests that it is important to focus beyond the individual and to be able to work on an informal level with people at these levels as well as others on campus.
What kinds of advisory groups are in place on your campus and how effective are they?
He says that there is more success in focused advisory groups than those without a specific mission. Each IT organization needs to open up dialogue with groups that will advise and provide input into the work of the IT unit. Some advisory groups might be:
  • IT Steering
  • Instructional Technology
  • Classroom Technology
  • Student Computing
  • Research computing
  • Administrative Computing
  • IT Policy
  • IT Security
  • Networking
Cantrell notes that the partnership between central and local IT is an important element to be considered in IT governance issues.
Sam Segran talked about Security and Data Management Issues
Each issue has campus partners that the IT unit must collaborate with in resolving the issue.
Illegal downloads and p2p issues
Housing, student judicial, student affairs.
Credit card transaction servers and payment card industry security standards
Senior administration, comptroller, VPs, Deans, Department heads, Campus IT Staff
Worms, viruses, Trojans, hackers, etc
VPs, Deans, Department heads, campus it staff
Server, Desktop and application administration
VPs, Deans, Department heads, campus it staff

IT can only control so many things so you have to work with others to resolve issues. Segran asked, Where can we collaborate to make things happen for safe computing?
The major component for collaboration is TRUST and so you should have an advance coordinator who starts the trust process.
Social Netware, Anonymous feedback forms, etc. (Esp. University Hosted)
VPs, Deans, Department heads, campus it staff
Ability to Audit IT activity to meet mandates
VPs, Deans, Department heads, campus it staff
Data, data Everywhere – spring cleaning
VPs, Deans, Department heads, campus it staff
And now the data on mobile devices….
Everyone has a laptop or computer or other mobile device
Kamran Khan discussed Digital Natives and the Millennium Generation: Culture and Habits
Today’s traditional student has grown up with technology we hadn’t dreamed of and the ‘Net is their bloodstream. Some of those technologies are:
  • IM – multiple conversations, wireless devices
  • MP3 players – iTunes and more
  • Papers online – listening to lecture notes (iPods), posting papers online
  • Notes on blogs and wikis/downloading class notes
  • Web sites, cell phones/PDAs and location
  • Collaborative social and learning communities
  • Social networking – Myspace and Facebook
  • File and music sharing
  • Google search, computer games and much more
There was a time when the IT unit controlled the students’ technology but that is not the case now. Now it’s a new model where they provide their own technology and many of their own services. Khan said that Rice is building infrastructure that will support the students’ needs but this infrastructure is not layered and another business model is needed. Some of the technologies that the students’ “bring with them” includes:
  • Digital video – You Tube
  • Email messages
  • Web browsers
  • Portals
  • On-line shopping
  • Xbox, rough wireless routers, Tivo and HDTV
  • Roaming and ubiquitous access
  • Downloading “new and future” revenue based subscription services
  • Computers are “not protected” – virus
  • Second Life – Second What?
For IT units the learning curve is constant. Khan suggest that we should look at what’s happening K-12 to know what to prepare for in the next years.
He noted that kids speak a different language and we need to know that language in order to collaboratively work with them to provide the infrastructure and campus services that they need.
Q: An attendee noted that it is easier to manage communications and collaborations within an organization but asked about managing institution to institution communication and collaboration
A: Research types figure out what they need and because of the need will collaborate. You should leverage contacts as best you can in order to make relationships that can be used when needed. You need good interactions with your peers/colleagues and good relationships with community organizations as well.
Q: Another question centered on the inability to compete with Google and similar services but expressed the need to be able to offer a controlled environment for students.
A: Khan said that you need to know what your core services are and what can be outsourced – students are there anyway. We have to know what risk we are taking, or might be taking, and factor that into your decision process. He said that we need to understand the WHY/WHAT the client wants/needs, and decide if it something we need to be doing or if it can be provided by another organization or service. Some institutions have jumped on Google right away while others have a list of questions that still are not answered.
Alternately, we need to put our minds together and decide if we need to collaborate among our institutions to provide a new service. Few institutions can afford a ‘director of technology assessment’ to look into these new technologies.
The key message of the CIOs was to not lose the focus of why we are here – teaching, learning, and research.

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