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Risk Management

Medieval castles were protected by moats, fortified walls, and small villages, yet enemies sometimes still snuck through using disguises.

A similar multilayered approach is needed to protect the modern campus IT infrastructure. Only this time the enemy is malware and viruses and the disguises are links on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites.

Four feet of snow in a week might be awesome if you run a ski resort, but it causes havoc if you run a college or university campus. That is just the quandary campus leaders in the mid-Atlantic were dealing with in December 2009.

"We couldn't open campus," says Joy Hughes, CIO and vice president for information technology at George Mason University (Va.). "You couldn't drive around."

Since the January 12 earthquake that decimated Haiti, U.S. colleges and universities have continued to carry out aid initiatives to support relief efforts. As would be expected, some of those efforts are more traditional (think fundraisers and collection drives), while others involve technology (including social media, websites, and wikis). Other institutions have taken more creative measures.

Year-end statements for pensions, 403(b) accounts, and mutual funds aren't as frightening to open as they were this time last year. University endowment managers usually wait until their fiscal year ends in June before they really look at their statements, but interim surveys indicate that performance has improved.

IN THE CURRENT ECONOMIC environment, it comes as no surprise that some higher ed institutions are beginning to wonder whether a radical strategy like reducing sticker price would be the best way to maintain market share. This spring, deposits were lagging at many private IHEs, even at campuses where admit numbers were up. More families were appealing financial aid awards, and more institutions were responding to those appeals. Officials are concerned students may “melt away” before fall.

Twenty years ago, projectors had three "guns," weighed between 80-120 pounds, were the size of a coffee table, and took a crew of technicians a couple of days to install and converge. They were dim, expensive, and finicky machines, but the one advantage they had over today's bright, ultra-portable, and inexpensive projectors was that you could come into the classroom or lecture theater and pretty much count on still finding them, on the ceiling, where they were yesterday. Theft wasn't an issue.


Hardly a day goes by without a college announcing jobs, programs, or spending cuts. You would think with all the brainpower at our colleges and universities they would be able to come up with better solutions than lopping off people, sections and services to students. But they don’t seem to. Why not?