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This has been a rich and illuminating discussion.   A few observations…

 

1.       I commend to you the entire current issue of EDUCAUSE Review (http://www.educause.edu/er).  Pressed for time?  Start with Diana Oblinger’s “Choosing What Not to Do” as a concise guide to some of the most compelling issues before us.

 

2.       Casey Green’s Campus Computing Project (www.campuscomputing.net) continues to be a very valuable resource.  Opinions are like elbows – most everyone has a couple.  Casey’s recent post took us beyond opinions and led us to what the data tell us:  noble intentions and actual execution sometimes are worlds apart.   Genuine inter-institutional collaboration is really hard work and requires sustained effort.  I’m reminded of Paul Saffo’s famous admonition – “Never mistake a clear view for a short distance.”    (http://www.saffo.com/idea1.php)

 

3.       Casey also named an elephant in the room – trust.  I wish I had a good answer for this one.  Sometimes we academic IT leaders trust each other even less than we trust vendors. The late William F. Buckley once said (I’m paraphrasing here) that he’d rather be governed by the first 2000 names in the Boston telephone directory than by the 2000 members of the Harvard faculty.  And that wasn’t just because he was a Yale man.  If we don’t deal with the issue of trust, the rest of our discussion will be mere white noise.

 

4.       Speaking of vendors, a few times our discussion has veered dangerously close to demonizing corporations who profit by selling us products and services.  I understand the temptation.  At my institution, we’re currently implementing a proprietary ERP system across eight campuses.   We are also negotiating hosting services for our proprietary LMS.  We and our vendor-partners are not always thrilled with one another.    But successfully navigating our differences is critical to the academic and operational goals of my University.   We’re business partners, with all the joys and sorrows that designation may imply.

 

5.       Final observation… isn’t it essential for our key academic colleagues to participate in these important conversations about the future of IT in higher education?   This is an opportunity to invite our chief academic officers, CFOs, HR leaders, and others to join us at the table.  If our conversation is solely about technical architecture, sustainable economic models, and to source or not to source, I submit we will have missed a great chance to re-engage our senior colleagues in serious dialogue about nothing less than the future of the academy.

 

Thanks to all in this wonderfully diverse community for generously sharing your experiences, insights and aspirations… Bill

 

William F. Hogue

Vice President for Information Technology and CIO

321 Thornwell Administrative Annex

University of South Carolina 29208

wfhogue@mailbox.sc.edu

803-777-0707 (land line)

803-777-1049 (fax)

 

  

********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.

Comments

In our experience, we aren’t seeing many elephants in the room. 

 

Trust is pretty straightforward.  It is demonstrated by behavior and it is earned over time.  Since our most nascent software and services collaboration with the U. of Michigan in 2002 (pre Sakai), IU has partnered with dozens of institutions in projects for research systems, grants, teaching and learning tools, library content, SaaS, etc.  Some institutions have proven remarkable partners, and I try to instill in our team the long-run value of being a trusted partner.  People come to know each other and institutions come to know each other.  The path to trust is action, and we’ve seen that illustrated at institutions of all sizes and in individuals at all levels.  Through those experiences, we are now increasingly clear on where to find trustworthy partners when a time-sensitive opportunity arises and a joint effort is mutually beneficial.  Likewise, our phone rings when good opportunities need a partner.

 

We’ve also learned that trust is more about covenants than contracts.  Most of our greatest progress and best financial savings has been garnered through MOU’s and agreements that are nowhere close to the rigor of a contract.    There are times that it has been hard, some partners have disappointed, and I’m sure that we have sometimes disappointed our partners too, …but we’ve managed all of this as a multi-round scenario where the experience of any one moment doesn’t taint an entire collaboration.

 

I also thought Casey’s post last week was insightful.  Perceptual survey data is, by its very nature, a time-stamped lagging indicator even if asking what people anticipate regarding an unknown future.  A year ago Blackboard was a public firm, Sungard/DataTel were competing, Kuali Financial was only in production at a few places, HTM5 was “coming,” etc.   Those situations and many more are now different than a year ago  …but are our views and actions as IT leaders?

 

I don’t think our chessboard is a spectator sport.  As buyers and consumers of software and IT services – or creators of multi-institutional collaborations – we can cause outcomes that are in our economic interests.  I see no demonization of commercial interests and their offers to higher ed.  My posts celebrate shrewd sell-side firms that shape their markets to their favor and rightly serve their values (and my 401K).  My concern is that the buy side becomes equally shrewd in using the growing set of tools available to us to serve our institutions/constituencies.  I think this is an ideal opportunity for CIO leadership with the groups that Bill identifies.

 

Cheers -- Brad

----------------------------------------------------------------------

IU Vice President for IT & CIO, Dean, and Professor

Indiana University, http://ovpit.iu.edu 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Message from luke.fernandez@gmail.com

Years ago Brad wrote an Educause article titled “Of Birkenstocks and Wingtips: Open Source Licenses” and, following the shoe metaphor alluded to there, I’ve always been impressed by the way he’s been able to cater to both the sentiments of the Birkenstock and Wingtip crowd in his posts. The metaphor of shoes can also shed a little more light on the *trust* challenge that Casey, Bill and Brad mention: About 15 years ago Robert Putnam wrote a book titled Bowling Alone in which he argued (along Tocquevillian lines) that American democracy and American commerce thrived in large part because of the existence of strong civic associations that built trust and social capital among parties that might not otherwise have been inclined to collaborate. In Putnam’s view that *trust* has eroded in recent years because civic associations have weakened: once we’d been inclined to join bowling leagues – but now not so much. The initiatives Educause members seem to be expressing here is that we better get those bowling shoes on again! Luke Fernandez Weber State University http://itintheuniversity.blogspot.com
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