After 10 months of research, including site visits to California State University-San Marcos and Colorado State University-Fort Collins, the Strategic Technology Advisory Committee (STAC) has submitted to President Stephen Jordan a report of their observations of IT processes, reporting structures and funding.
“In preparing for a strong IT system for the future, we need to know if our Division of Information Technology should continue as a vice presidential division or perhaps follow a different model,” said Jordan, who has been sharing the results with key constituents on campus this week.
“The report raised important issues,” said Jordan. “Key among those were that whatever structure we end up with, it must be nimble and capable of adapting to and growing with our academic and administrative needs simultaneously.”
Interim Vice President of Information Technology and STAC Co-Chair Steve Beaty said, “I think one of the most important things the report suggests is modifying the mission or planning goals of Metro State to include technology.”
The committee’s observations found that some IT divisions report directly to the provost. “It’s one of several of the committee’s observations that we’ll consider as we prepare to conduct a national search for a permanent head of IT.”
Other observations found that there were processes in place for soliciting feedback from all constituents and that the campus community at the two institutions relied upon IT instead of developing “work-arounds,” which, according to Beaty, happens when campus entities attempt to meet their own IT needs. “When they believe that IT is not responsive enough, they work-around them. For example some create their own web servers,” he explains.
Janos Fustos, STAC co-chair and professor of computer information systems, says that the IT leaders at CSU-San Marcos and Colorado State emphasized that their most important role was to support their institutions’ primary mission: education. “They also said that major IT projects were not IT’s projects – they were initiated by faculty or students. They have regular discussions on strategies and operations, and they view themselves as enablers by providing opportunities, framework and coordination.”
Among STAC’s recommendations are:
- Integrate technology into the mission and planning goals of the College
- Partner to serve community needs (i.e. assign an IT representative to each school and division)
- Integrate agility into organization
- Proactively communicate and collaborate to problem-solve and engage
- Maintain and leverage technical competence across community
- Sustain innovation that is cost-effective, green and value-added
- Structure the organization for excellent service and strategic influence
- Modify funding and support for IT(i.e. balancing the use of long-term budget planning along with one-time monies)The report will be an invaluable baseline for where technology needs to progress, said STAC member Susan L. Cook, who is an associate professor of technical communication and media production. “The issues discussed, the needs presented and the strategies proposed all frame the committee's views and feelings. This report only presents the framework; the new incoming CIO will need to color in the picture and take action to make that picture a reality.”
Staying grounded in the goals of the College are also important when choosing a model or structure moving forward, according to STAC member Ben Zastrocky, director of the Educational Technology Center, which reports to Academic Affairs and has e-learning as its primary focus.
But he cautions that technology is a powerful tool and not the primary function of the College. “Students do not learn from technology but rather from exceptional instructors who have been trained to use technology and other strategies to support their learning outcomes,” Zastrocky said.
“There is no perfect model or structure as organizations are built around people and not models.We need to determine the best models and practices for Metro State and ensure the faculty, staff and students are included in the process.”
Beaty says that after Jordan has finished gathering feedback from the VPs, IT and the Cabinet, he will propose a model for IT services. Once a model has been confirmed, a job description for the head of IT will be developed and a national search conducted.
In addition to Beaty, Fustos, Cook and Zastrocky, the other STAC Committee members are:
Corey Keaslin, Student Government Assembly
George King, Assistant Professor of Aerospace Science, Faculty Senate
Jeff Lewis, Associate Professor of Marketing
Chris Mancuso, Director of Web Communications, Division of Institutional Advancement
Mark Potter, Director, Access Center for Disability Accommodations and Adaptive Technology
Bob Williams, Special program management official, Rightsizing with Technology initiative.
Kip Wotkyns, Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Journalism
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