College Planning & Management

JUN 2012

College Planning & Management is the information resource for professionals serving the college and university market. Covering facilities, security, technology and business.

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Business Practices ACHIEVING ADMINISTRATIVE EXCELLENCE The Tech-Savvy President Presidential leadership for higher education today. BY DR. SCOTT D. MILLER AND DR. MARYLOUISE FENNELL T HE ACCELERATING PACE OF technology presents a good news/bad news scenario for institutional CEOs. On the one hand, new technology offers many more possibilities for attracting, retaining, and serving students, providing signifi cant support for marketing, institutional research, and networking. On the other, though, it requires substantial start-up expenses, raises constitu- ent demands for improved access and conve- nience in the delivery of educational services, and carries the risk that systems may quickly become outdated. In our experience, technology in higher education is best understood and managed not as a one-time expense but as an ongoing investment for the vitality and growth of the institution. These investments need to be fueled by presidential leadership and leveraged to reap future rewards. Therefore, we recommend the following. Be Strategic Presidential leadership is essential to effective use of technol- ogy that serves not merely as a standalone goal, but as part of a broader, strategic institutional objective. As our colleague Laurence W. Mazzeno, former president of Alver- nia University in Pennsylvania, notes, "One of the key reasons presi- dents need to think of 'investing' in technology rather than 'spending' on technology is that we are conditioned in our society to think dif- ferently about expenditures and investments. It may be a cliché to say that we spend in the present but invest for the future — but that cliché has merit." When we are investing, as Dr. Mazzeno continues, we tend to make purchases that support strategic institutional growth. Think Long-Term Campus leaders must understand the implications and value associated with recurring technology costs. Students and prospec- tive students demand the latest generation of computer-assisted, computer-based systems, 24/7. Institutions that don't keep up may never have these would-be matriculants on their radar screens; many simply won't bother to inquire. Skeptical faculty who express reservations about high start-up costs may be converted when convinced that those whose teaching and research are aligned with institutional objectives will be supported appropriately. 14 COLLEGE PLANNING & MANAGEMENT / JUNE 2012 Finally, developing a long-term investment strategy will en- able you to make appropriate decisions to purchase and upgrade information technology as a means of enhancing the educational enterprise. Use Social Media as Part of Your Marketing Mix Increasingly, colleges and universities are embracing vehicles such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. More than 60 percent of college students report visiting these sites daily, and all have a high return on investment and nominal or no production or distribu- tion costs for marketing compared with more traditional media. All are "musts" when used strategically to reinforce your institu- tional brand and message across multiple platforms. Facebook fan pages have become the new Internet home pages of a decade ago, but they should not be approached as just another "to do" to check off your list. Before overinvesting, we caution, go back to the basics of research, analysis, and evaluation that you would apply to traditional media: Who is your target audience? Where is it? When and how is it using social media? And fi nally, how will social media advance your institutional mission? Build In People Costs Campus CEOs who have committed to viewing technology as an integral part of a plan often point to one of the primary pitfalls of technology implementation — the failure to anticipate and build in "people" costs. In fact, training and investing in technol- ogy support personnel correlates positively not only to improved productivity campus wide, but also to job satisfaction and to the core business of student learning. Technology must always serve the ultimate user — the institu- tion — not exist for its own sake. "Randomly spreading technol- ogy around campus," Dr. Michael K. Townsley, noted author, consultant, and former president of the Pennsylvania Institute of Technology, emphasizes, "will neither automatically yield opera- tional effi ciency, nor will it enhance strategic value." CPM Dr. Scott D. Miller is president of the College and M.M. Cochran Professor of Leadership Studies at Bethany College in West Virginia. Now in his third college presidency, he has served as a CEO for 22 years. Dr. Marylouise Fennell, RSM, a former president of Carlow University in Pittsburgh, is senior counsel for the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and a partner in Hyatt-Fennell, an executive search fi rm. WWW.PLANNING4EDUCATION.COM

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