3 things I learned in 1 hour with a higher ed CIO and Deputy CIO


Recently, I had the privilege of sitting for one hour with the CIO and Deputy CIO of Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) for a live social media chat. More than 280 people joined us, asked questions, and Tri-C’s tech leaders provided answers.

What an amazing opportunity to see Standish Stewart, deputy CIO, and Jerry Hourigan, CIO, interact as they formed their answers. I’ve spent a lot of time with them and I know Tri-C’s story well. So I was surprised at how much I took away – though I shouldn’t be. I always learn whenever I have a chance to listen to clients, especially as the pace of technology continues to increase.

Here are top three things I learned in that single hour:

1. We learn a lot from asking each other questions.

EDUCAUSE 2016 is coming next week. Long-time friends in higher ed – carrying enormous responsibilities for the evolution of technology, security, infrastructure, and even the service model of the IT organization – will ask each other about challenges and strategies.

The big question will be: What are you doing new and different? And attendees will learn a lot in the process, just like I did while sitting with Stewart and Hourigan.

To prepare for EDUCAUSE – and in case you can’t attend the conference – we asked Tri-C questions that I imagine higher ed professionals want to know the answers to:

  • What is the biggest challenge you are facing regarding student success strategies?
  • How do you prioritize technology projects at Tri-C?
  • What do you see as the top three things that your institution needs to focus on in the next five years to ensure your IT systems are sustainable for your campus?

These are great questions. I encourage you to read their answers.

2. Higher Ed is facing very serious challenges that really demand we work together.

When Hourigan summarized his answer to the top three things his institution needs to focus on in the next five years, it was sobering for me. I’ve been on the Tri-C campus and spent time with Hourigan, his team and the team that serves students on campus, so I am keenly aware of their absolute dedication and commitment to students.

But Hourigan’s answer reminds us of the responsibility CIOs and their teams carry on their shoulders every day. He mentioned the absolute need for readiness regarding cybersecurity threats. This is a hot topic that CIOs across multiple industries are talking about – but is extremely important when it comes to student records.

In fact, security is such a hot topic, many CIOs have requested we address it. Therefore, we will definitely discuss it at our upcoming Executive Summit in April, 2017.

Other topics were about the funding issues in higher ed, realities of building an IT infrastructure that grows as devices – and demand – grow, and the importance of training and documentation. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers here.

More than ever, we must work together as partners. I’m proud of our partnership with Tri-C and I’m proud of how Hyland listens to our customers. I’m proud of our development team that delivers an OnBase release every year with 3,000 enhancements – many of which come from customer requests.

I’m also incredibly proud of our tech support team that is dedicated to higher ed. These folks receive rave reviews week after week. And I’m grateful for our dedicated higher ed services team. They are passionate and determined to ensure our clients are successful. Both now and in the future.

As higher ed faces these incredible pressures, I want every customer to feel the strength of our partnership.

3. Tri-C is proud of its impact on Cleveland.

I started our social media conversation with a question that should be easy.

“What is your favorite restaurant in Cleveland?”

I thought that would give Stewart and Hourigan a chance to get to know our process for a live social media chat and find their rhythm. And truth be told, it’s not an easy question to answer in Cleveland because it has really become a foodie city.

Answering the question, Hourigan could not help but emphasize his love of Cleveland. And he is so clearly proud of the Tri-C mission. His answer reminded me that the institution serves 60,000 students in the greater Cleveland area.

It was wonderful to watch Stewart and Hourigan actually collaborate on their answer to that question! They debated back and forth and arrived at the best answers. As I said above, their collaborative spirit was so evident.

And they are proud of their OneRecord project, a collaboration undertaken all for the sake of students in Cleveland.

“Knowledge truly is power,” said Stewart. “And through OneRecord, all our employees have access to the information they need to assist our students on their journeys.”

In fact, Hourigan is presenting at EDUCAUSE on Thursday, Oct 27 and he’ll have a few remarks on that as part of the panel he is on. I encourage you to attend and ask him about it – it’s truly remarkable.

Speaking of the city of Cleveland and pride, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the Indians are headed to the World Series! With all the hard work we’re all doing to make Cleveland a tech hub and a leader in the higher ed space, winning two championships in the same year would definitely be the icing on the cake.

Let’s go Cleveland!

Laurel Stiller brings her passion for helping institutions strategically maximize their efficiency to Hyland as its marketing portfolio manager for Higher Education. A graduate of Miami University, Ohio, with more than 20 years of experience working to map proven solutions to higher education challenges, Laurel implemented ERP solutions at Dickinson College and University of Oregon Foundation before joining the sales and marketing team at Datatel, now Ellucian, Inc. Laurel offers a deep understanding of higher education, dedication to transparency and a fondness for candid conversations about the solutions Hyland develops and delivers to the market. You may reach her at Laurel.Stiller at onbase.com.

Laurel Stiller

Laurel Stiller brings her passion for helping institutions strategically maximize their efficiency to Hyland as its marketing portfolio manager for Higher Education. A graduate of Miami University, Ohio, with more... read more about: Laurel Stiller