C2 July 27, 2005

C2 Strategic C-level Discussions on Technology

July 27, 2005
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From the Top

Strategic Planning for Information Technology:
Steering the Ship or Being Driven?

By Eduardo J. Padr–n,
President
Miami Dade College

Planning for technology advancements in any industry is a monumental challenge today and a particularly demanding one in higher education. As a learning enterprise we are concerned with both process and outcomes, and our ear must be to the ground well beyond the campus environment. Historically, no industry—or set of industries, which is a more apt description—has grown more prolifically or diversified more explosively than this all-encompassing labyrinth we call "technology."

In such an atmosphere, effective planning is absolutely crucial. The operative word, however, is “effective.” How d'es an educational institution, at the confluence of individual learning, a volatile marketplace, and a veritable revolution in communications plan effectively?

At MDC we have established a set of guidelines by which to steer the good ship technology. They are basic, common sense principles that are closely allied with the fundamental values of the institution. I’d like to share them here:

  1. Prioritize students: MDC’s mission statement instructs to “place students at the center of decision-making.” Literally hundreds of technology needs are tendered to the yearly budget proposal and not all are fulfilled. As a general rule, we work outward from the core of the teaching and learning process and relevant support.
  2. Adhere to the college’s Strategic Plan: Be consistent. Ensure that such a major outlay of resources as we make for technology is attuned to the long-range priorities of the institution.
  3. Have the debate: Make sure opposing views on investment are aired thoroughly and poll the marketplace through formal requests for information to fuel the debate. Considerations like the anticipated paradigm shift in personal mobility, communications, and computing are certain to have nearly universal impact across the college. Debate is healthy.
  4. Make careful choices: Notions of reversibility, flexibility, and risk assessment should be core constituents in any major investment decisions. The road ahead promises too many curves to do otherwise.
  5. Don’t overplan: It’s wise to know your needs in advance and wiser yet to purchase what you need, when you need it. Understand shelf life whenever possible and capture the ever-volatile market as effectively as possible.

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Need to Know

Disinterested Students, Depleted Funding Threaten Computer Science Fields

Executives from Microsoft and Princeton University recently cited a pair of ominous threats looming over college campuses: school rosters no longer packed with computer science majors and government officials intent on slicing funds dedicated to IT research.

At his company’s recent Research Faculty Summit held in Redmond, Wash., Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect, Bill Gates and Princeton University Dean of Engineering and Applied Science, Maria Klawe identified these worrisome trends.

“One of the biggest concerns of computer scientists in the United States is the decline in federal funding for academic research and graduate education,” said Klawe.

She noted specifically that the Defense Department’s Defense Advanced Research Agency (DARPA) has cut university research nearly in half. Meanwhile, the other major federal agency that contributes IT research dollars – the National Science Foundation – has trimmed its academic funding rate by about 16 percent.

Dwindling government funding figures, however, may not be the biggest problem now facing technology leaders at higher education institutions, suggested Klawe. “Perhaps even more worrisome, we’re seeing a huge decline in interest in studying computer science,” she noted.

Klawe cited statistics offered up by the University of California, Los Angeles’ Higher Education Institute, which identified between 2000 and 2004 a 60 percent drop in the number of incoming college students who declare computer science as a major.

These paltry enrollment figures stand in direct contrast to the fastest-growing jobs as indicated by the U.S. Department of Labor. DOL has predicted that the demand for data communications analysts, health information technicians and computer software engineers will soar through 2012.

Gates vowed that his company would do its part to stem these identified computer science losses, particularly student disinterest in the field. “Microsoft is trying to hire every great college student who has basic computer sciences skills,” he said. “We’ve got open headcount [and] these are super well-paying jobs.”

A webcast and details of the exchange between Gates and Klawe are available at http://www.microsoft.com/events/executives/webcasts.mspx

UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute Website is at
http://www.gseis.ucla.edu/heri/heri.html

Information on DARPA programs is available at
http://www.darpa.mil/body/off_programs.html

Information on NSF’s competitively-awarded grants and cooperative agreement programs for research and education is available at http://www.nsf.gov/funding/

Community College Leaders Advocate Caution in Developing Successful Online Education Program

Pima Community College in Tucson, AZ, gained some notoriety in the local press this week when it graduated a woman who had never set foot in a PCC classroom.

Bedridden for five months after the birth of her son, Christianne Dinsmore told the Tucson Citizen that she began taking online courses offered by the college at the suggestion of her husband. Now, after two-years of online course work in computer information systems, she is graduating without ever physically going to a single class.

Despite this online education success story, Suzanne Miles, PCC provost, told the newspaper, "We're starting slowly." She said the community college has adopted a slow and steady philosophy out of pragmatic caution. "We don't want to put them all online and have no one interested."

It also comes down to resources according to Jana Kooi, president of PCC's Community Campus, the district's leader in distance learning. "If we could produce the classes faster and train faculty faster, we could do more."

PCC is planning to phase in not only more course but also move into innovations including online science labs, where students mix chemicals and conduct tests virtually, without the hazards of a physical lab, Kooi told the newspaper.
Read more

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Who's Where

Washington and Lee President Moves to Become Notre Dame Provost

Thomas G. Burish, president of Washington and Lee University (VA) and was elected provost of the University of Notre Dame (IN) this past week by the university’s board of trustees. A distinguished researcher in the field of clinical psychology, he also was appointed professor of psychology.

Burish, 55, is a Notre Dame alumnus. He had served as president of Washington and Lee for the past three years. Prior to that he was the longest-serving provost in the history of Vanderbilt University, serving as provost there from 1993 to 2002.
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Indiana University Southeast Fills New Top IT Position

Larry Mand, will become vice chancellor for information technology and community engagement, a new position combining communications and IT in accord with the institutions new strategic plan.

Mand, who was an IT executive at the university prior to his appointment, will serve as the university liaison for a range of economic-development activities in the regional community in his expanded role. (Louisville Business Journal) Read more

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Archives

July 13, 2005 Hitting the Ground Walking
By Brian D. Voss, CIO, Louisiana State University

June 22, 2005 It's Not Simply Infrastructure
An Interview with Tracy Futhey, CIO, Duke University

June 8, 2005 Online Piracy, Ethical Behavior, and the Unintended Consequences of Technology
By Diane Barbour, CIO, Rochester Institute of Technology (NY)

May 25, 2005 The Internet, the Pope, and the iPod
By Tracy Mitrano, Director of IT Policy and Computer Law and Policy
Cornell University (NY)

May 11, 2005 Overcoming the Biggest Barrier to Student Success
By Ron Bleed, vice chancellor IT
Maricopa Community Colleges

April 27, 2005: Piracy on the Seas of Higher Education
By Graham Spanier, President, Penn State University
More archives

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