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The Syllabus2005 Executive Summit Survey report reveals what’s on the minds of decision makers in higher education.

IT DIRECTORS and other top-level executives in higher education met this past July at the Syllabus2005 Executive Summit ( to focus on common issues and solutions. In order to provide context and a framework for a full day of productive discussions, Campus Technology contracted Eduventures analysts ( to perform a study of strategic IT concerns, using a survey instrument and expert interviews informed by an extensive scan of relevant research findings. Four broad areas emerged:

  • Aligning IT with Institutional Goals
  • Information Security as a Strategic Issue for Institutions
  • Students as Customers: Online Student Services
  • Digital Learning Technologies and Instructional Impacts

The survey instrument asked respondents to rate, using a five-point scale in descending order, the relative importance of seven strategic themes predominant in the literature.

All seven themes received scores above 4.0, placing them all in the “somewhat important” to “extremely important” range. While only the most critical themes were introduced for rating in this portion of the survey and uniformly high scores were not a surprise, the relative ranking of themes factored into the development of a discussion framework, based on the four major areas listed above.

Another section of the survey asked respondents to rate each of 22 IT discussion topics on a five-point, descending scale of their interest in discussing each topic with peers. The first 10 top-rated topics are included in the chart, above right.

Theme Avg. Rating
Linking IT to the foremost mission-critical objectives of the institution (e.g., enrollment growth, improving teaching and learning practices)4.73
Securing institutional data4.69
Supporting students as institutional “customers” (e.g., supporting online student services)4.47
Connecting institutional stakeholders with better decision-support data4.40
Driving and supporting faculty usage of IT4.37
Enabling anytime, anywhere learning4.16
Doing more with less in the IT function4.15

While the “strategic themes” responses shown below assign a relatively lower rating to instructional technologies, the chart above demonstrates that the application of technology to learning is of great interest as a topic of discussion. Emerging education technologies, digital content, and eLearning are all included among the top five topics that IT executives are keen to discuss.

The Flood Gates Open

From the first expert interview conducted in the study phase, to the final exchanges at the end of the Executive Summit meeting, recorded commentary and diverse views of participants abound. Samples follow:

Lev Gonick, VP for IT Services and CIO, Case Western Reserve University (OH): “We are going to see a handful of IT directors really help shape their institutions, versus continuing to be incrementally involved in reacting to changes.”

Mark Bruhn, chief IT security and policy officer and acting sssociate VP of Telecommunications, Indiana University: “It used to be a very unpopular position to take on university campuses, but more and more IT people are taking control—if not of the devices, than of the network connections to and from those devices.”

Mary Jo Gorney-Moreno, associate VP for Academic Technology, San Jose State University (CA): “The ultimate goal of our strategic plan is student success…. Our core mission is not to have the latest and greatest technology; it is to educate students.”

We’ll be sharing interviews, comments, and summaries with our readers and Web site visitors in the coming months. Join the ongoing discussion!

Theme Avg. Rating
Emergent education technologies (e.g., simulations, ePortfolios) 4.47
Digital content usage, support, and infrastructure 4.32
Emergent technologies for students (e.g., file-sharing/PSP, podcasting) 4.31
Information security 4.29
eLearning 4.18
Online student services 4.18
Content management systems/learning management systems 4.16
Faculty development practices in IT 4.08
Research technologies (e.g., high-performance computing, collaboration tools, advanced networking) 4.02
Bringing the IT point of view to the attention of senior administrators 4.00
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