Why College Presidents Need to Be on Top of Campus Tech

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Historically, an institution’s tech stack—its selection, implementation, and maintenance—has been solely the prerogative of the CIO/CTIO and the IT team. But with technology’s increasing vital role in day-to-day operations, student and staff success, and institutional sustainability, many college presidents are becoming more involved with technology roadmaps. While collaboration between presidents and CIOs is growing, recent surveys reveal that the majority of college and university presidents still haven’t set specific goals for digital transformation. Many aren’t yet as involved in campus technology as they need to be.

For presidents, partnering with CIOs/CTOs to set transformation goals is crucial, not only for overall success of their institution, but for the overall success of their presidency. Below, we examine why now—more than ever—it’s essential for college presidents to partner closely with their CIO/CTOs and support digital transformation. We’ll also break down the key steps presidents need to take to ensure their finger is on the pulse of education technology.

Why College and University Presidents Need to Be on Top of Campus Tech

When it comes to digital transformation in higher education, a pattern has emerged in the past few years. Institutions that successfully implement new campus systems have found themselves able to advance institutional initiatives and achieve growth. Institutions that have experienced failed system implementations have found themselves hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of dollars in debt. In fact, while not directly linked, there have been several recent cases where failed ERP implementations have coincided with presidents and other high-profile college leaders stepping down from their posts.

To avoid issues like this, college presidents need to be involved in technology-based decisions and initiatives. What steps can college presidents take to better align with technology initiatives on campus?

Monitor Higher Education Technology Trends and Campus Capabilities

While college presidents should trust that their CIOs and CTOs are on top of the latest developments in the edtech space, presidents tend to have a more holistic view of their institution than technology leaders. Because of this, it’s important that presidents not only understand the type of systems they have on their campus, but also how changes across the technology landscape might improve institutional and student success outcomes.

Partner Closely With Your CIO/CTO

The CIO/CTO is the technology expert on campus. If they’re not at the leadership table, then they can’t gain the full perspective of campus operations that would enable them to make informed technology decisions. A CIO/CTO needs to be a part of the president’s cabinet. The more time presidents spend with their CIOs/CTOs, the better a president will understand the campus technical landscape, and the better the CIO/CTO will understand institutional goals.

Support Innovation and Change Management Across Campus

To digitally transform a campus, the entire campus needs to embrace a culture of change. But getting the entire campus on board can be a real challenge, especially if that campus has legacy technology silos in place. Supporting innovation and change management isn’t as simple as sending encouraging emails and holding collaborative meetings. It’s going to take investments in new technology and in technology training. Presidents that understand and share the CIO/CTO’s vision for campus technology and transformation will be better equipped to encourage cross-departmental collaboration and allocate the type of resources that change demands.

Keep Your Mission at the Center of Your Technology Decisions

Is your new technology going to support student success and further the institution’s goals? This is one of the main questions for college and university presidents to keep in mind when making technology-related decisions. A president should keep abreast, perhaps even ultimately oversee, transformation priorities and timelines. This way, if signs arise that an implementation isn’t going according to plan, steps can be taken to address problems before they become insurmountable.

As education technology advances, president and CIO/CTO partnerships are increasingly critical to the success of students and the institution as a whole. Get the President and CIO Checklist and discover whether your institution is doing all it can to support change and accelerate digital transformation.

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