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Institutions are under increasing pressure to provide more services, despite reduced operating budgets and elusive funding, and amid calls to hold down tuition. To meet these challenges, leading institutions are combining innovative approaches to technology and strategy by moving to the cloud, adopting managed services and focusing on strategic planning.

The rapid evolution of mobile technology is changing the way we learn, work and educate. Mobile students need mobile workspaces with on-demand, secure access to the apps, data and services they require, expanding beyond traditional methods to promote independent and exploratory learning—all without compromising security or compliance.

University of Montana gave Pinecone Awards as part of the web template project launch, with awards given to staffers in categories such as best user experience and most innovative.

Faced with increased competition for students and declining enrollment, the University of Montana centralized the oversight of its web presence to create a unified look and feel across all of its websites. The use of new templates reduced reliance on outside design firms, cut costs, helped meet accessibility compliance, and increased the pace at which new sites were created.


As technology advances and students remain on the cutting edge, colleges and universities have no choice but to keep up. That means ensuring that students can access the information they need, whenever they need it, from whatever device they choose. This creates an array of challenges for institutions, from increased volume of help desk calls, to providing a consistent user experience across devices and operating systems, to controlling access to sensitive information.

When Ohio State students requested a campus life mobile app, Steve Fischer, director of web and mobile apps (standing, left) and his team collaborated on the project that made it happen.

In today’s higher ed world, no department can work in a vacuum, least of all IT. From understanding the business plan to knowing how a web page or application will be used and by whom before it is designed and built, the days of CIOs and their teams working independently are gone.

IT administrators are spending more time than ever before collaborating with other departments to ensure there is a clear understanding of a project’s mission and to generate a more successful outcome.

The President’s Task Force  Committee at Salisbury University is an example of how multiple  departments can work with IT. On  the committee is Simeon Ananou (seated, with laptop), as well as his colleagues from the provost’s office, student affairs, registrar, financial aid, general counsel, HR, web  communications and two academic departments.

Within the next few years, as the ROI of collaboration becomes increasingly known, expect cross-departmental teamwork to be integral to the way all IT projects are handled, says Kamalika Sandell, associate CIO of American University. “There will be fewer boundaries in IT, and that will allow input to happen fluidly throughout the regular course of doing business,” she notes.

Simeon Ananou, CIO of Salisbury University in Maryland, sees a future higher ed model where IT and curriculum are integrated.

John Fragola (left) and Peter Grady use iPads to monitor the heat inside Dana English Hall on the Mount Carmel campus at Quinnipiac University. Both are licensed HVAC mechanics in the facilities department.

Members of the facilities crew at Quinnipiac University were spending a lot of time traveling back to their shop during the workday.

This situation, of course, was not unique to Quinnipiac, but department officials at the school set out to eliminate the trips workers had to make to retrieve new work orders, find information about equipment in manuals or look up floor plans. The central Connecticut institution has a 212-acre main campus, and two branches that are a half-mile and about five miles away.

Gone are the days when university CIOs filled their time with trouble-shooting computer bugs and managing servers. “CIOs are at the center of a campus conversation about the proper relationship between technology and education,” says Kamalika Sandell. Associate CIO at American University (AU) in Washington, D.C., Sandell is an expert on IT leadership and speaker at UBTech 2014. “We are now more than ever expected to introduce and lead change at the university level.”

Todd Kelly, Vice President for Library and Information Services

It was clear four years ago that Wisconsin-based Carthage College needed a new system for managing help requests from the campus community. The Library and Information Services (LIS) staff of 25 was manually handling nearly 12,000 questions each year from faculty, staff and students about everything library or technology-related. Additionally, many of the requests were sent made informally directly to technicians. That made tracking and follow-up nearly impossible, especially given the rapid growth the college was experiencing.

Mona Aldana-Ramirez, director of retention services, San Antonio College

Just when Mona Aldana-Ramirez thought she had all the answers, they kept changing the questions. The director of retention services at San Antonio College had to spearhead the implementation of a new enrollment program while fielding thousands of student requests for clarification. But every time she trained a few of her 20-person part-time staff, the enrollment process would change, and she would have to go out and retrain.