The Era of the IT Executive: 25 CIOs Speak Their Minds
Associate Provost and CIO for Information Technology
Northern Kentucky University
How does your vision of IT support NKU’s mission?
As CIO I spend significant time working with our administrative systems and leaders to streamline our business processes. In addition, our IT teams take a vested interest in the academic needs and staying in tune with student perspectives. One of the advantages we have is NKU’s Fuel the Flame strategic plan that was approved last year. President Geoffrey Mearns, who is very forward thinking, has led NKU in mapping the future of the university. This has been an exciting experience for the entire campus. Even though IT was in a very good place before this new strategic plan, it gave us an opportunity to prioritize our foundation and services. Through that strategic plan, we built an implementation plan to communicate all the things we are going to do through 2018. The NKU strategic plan is crystal clear; for example, one of the things is innovative, student-centered education. We have several goals in our implementation plan that supports this, including innovative mobile apps. We know students in today’s world are consumers of technology and they want to be able to do anything from anywhere 24/7.
If you look at some of the goals in the university strategic plan, many of them require technology to be successful, so there is a framework underneath to make that happen. One of the key things in the new plan is trans-disciplinary academics, such as taking curriculum from different disciplines and integrating them to bring greater learning opportunities for our students. There are opportunities for technology to impact this work both in the classroom, with online tools and other aspects. You need the tools IT can provide to record lectures and do online learning and hybrid classrooms, so students in the classroom and students working remotely all receive the same experience. There are lots of opportunities to impact the implementation of the new strategic plan through technology and we are focused on working with the campus community to make this happen. We had a plan before, but this new focus on a campus-wide strategic plan enables our efforts to fit in with it nicely.
What is the relationship like between IT and professors and academic leaders?
A lot of the innovation from an IT perspective starts outside IT with a professor who wants, for example, to do something cool like integrating tablets or iPads in the classroom. NKU faculty have innovative ideas on how to leverage technology to increase learning outcomes. In fine arts, faculty and students are using tablets and apps instead of actual color swatches to teach color theory. Journalism students are using tablets and apps to produce their news stories. So innovation can happen when technology is leveraged to meet a need, and there are many emerging technologies that can make a tremendous difference, but we have to figure out how to leverage it at NKU. The academic leaders on campus bring many opportunities to our IT folks and we work together to make it happen.
What are the key objectives for NKU to continue growing?
Under the leadership of president Mearns and provost Sue Ott Rowlands, we are all striving for excellence. We want to be the best at what we do – educating students to be successful academically and prepared for their careers. NKU is focused on key areas such as experiential learning that enhances their coursework and will allow students to be even more competitive in the marketplace. So overall it’s excellence in what we do and that we help each and every student reach their goals both academically and beyond. Our mission places students in the center of all that we do.