Feature

Big Ideas: The Administrator's Bookshelf

Advocating for change in higher education

If you want a comprehensive view of the world of higher education, look no further than your local bookstore. Every month sees a wave of releases by administrators, scholars, analysts, and more focusing on the current state—good and bad—of higher education. We’ve chosen to highlight here some of the more interesting titles that have arrived at our offices. You’ll probably notice a common thread of thought among them. All the books below advocate dramatic changes to the very nature of higher education, and in many cases, they don’t just suggest change, they demand it.

Limited Liability

With a new focus on risk management and safety efforts rather than just compliance, campus environmental health & safety offices are preventing on-the-job injuries and costly workers’ compensation claims.

For years, Kevin Confetti would perform a metaphoric scratching of the head. Thousands of work-related injuries were reported at the University of California’s 10 campuses and five medical centers, costing the system $25 million annually in workers’ compensation claims. As a workers’ compensation specialist for UC, he was responsible for payments to injured employees while they were off their feet.


Touch to Begin

Inspiration for interaction with campus digital signage installations

Touch screens are taking over—and people expect to see them. In the years since Apple first popularized the technology with the iPhone in 2007, it has become almost rare to meet someone who doesn’t own a touchscreen smartphone or tablet. This is becoming even truer among the college-bound and younger generation. Take, for example, the viral YouTube video showing a toddler who could easily operate an iPad, but seemed perplexed when she touched the pages of a magazine and nothing happened.

A Sound Investment

Making the right decisions—and avoiding missteps—in considering campus audio and acoustics

Imagine a learning environment where students can’t hear the professor—or the emergency notifications as part of a safety situation. The basic need of clear audio solutions in higher education impacts so much more than meets the eye.

Financial Aid Technology Services at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Worldwide Campus

When applying for any of the more than 200 institutional scholarships at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, whose worldwide campus is based in Daytona Beach, Fla., students used to complete an online form and then spend time gathering an essay and 15 to 20 pages of additional hardcopy documentation. Financial aid staff then sorted and filed it all away in physical file folders.

Human Resources-Payroll at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College

Automating Adjunct Agreements

Adjunct faculty members are an important resource on campuses, supplementing full-time faculty course offerings and making it possible for students to complete required courses on time. But until the fall of 2011, adjuncts and full-time faculty teaching additional courses were causing a tremendous drain on resources at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, located in Green Bay.

Administration and Finance Division at Old Dominion University

CPR for ERP

Blessed by rising enrollments and increased faculty hiring but burdened by flat IT staffing, Old Dominion University (Va.) officials took a hard look at both its ERP system and itself in hopes of addressing a simple but hugely significant issue. “We framed the basic question as, Is it Banner or is it us?” recalls Bob Fenning, vice president for administration and finance. “We were wondering whether or not we were utilizing Banner in the most efficient way, that we were maxing out all the functionality that existed there, or was the issue how we did business.”

Facilities & Construction Office at Texas A&M Health Science Center

Building Asset Tracking

Before August 2011, Texas A&M Health Science Center Facilities & Construction office (FCO) employees frequently used hand-written notes to record and track building problems reported on its eight campuses. Faculty, students, staff, and visitors used a variety of methods to report problems, including phone calls, email, and catching someone in the hall to request help. From building temperature issues to electrical problems or falling ceiling tiles, there was no process for tracking requests or operational trail of the department’s daily work, outside of purchases made.

Engineering-Liberal Arts and Sciences Online Learning at Iowa State University

Closing the Distance

There doesn’t seem to be anything higher education can’t break apart and dump into silos. Even technology, which was supposed to help integrate things and eliminate duplicate, wasteful efforts we all loathe, isn’t immune to the practice.

At Iowa State University, the two major providers of online coursework—the College of Engineering and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS)—were engaged in virtually identical technological activities. When rising enrollment numbers clogged registration for on-campus classes, the opportunity to combine services was realized.

Accounting Services & Financial Systems at Western Washington University

Entry Levels

The amount of money that gets routed around a campus without cash ever exchanging hands is enormous. Recording those exchanges is vital for accounting, but often cumbersome. “Universities do a fair amount of chargebacks for their operations,” observes Rich Van Den Hul, vice president for business and financial affairs at Western Washington University. “The copy center is a good example. Facilities work. IT work. So there’s a lot of transactions.”

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