The Era of the IT Executive: 25 CIOs Speak Their Minds
Nelson C. Vincent
Vice President for Information Technology
University of Cincinnati
How does your vision of IT support the University of Cincinnati’s core values?
We are an interdependent team sustaining and advancing the university through information technology partnerships. Collaborations with students, faculty, and staff make our work meaningful and are foundational to the university’s shared vision for information technology, research and academics.
For example, we collaborated on a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to support a dedicated, high-speed research network. Faculty researchers in the College of Engineering & Applied Science and the McMicken College of Arts & Sciences teamed up with IT@UC to submit the NSF Campus Cyberinfrastructure – Infrastructure, Innovation and Engineering Program grant. The $499,741 award funds the development of UCScienceNet, a dedicated, high-speed research network to facilitate the transfer of very large data sets or very fast transfer of data for real-time visualization and analysis. Joint planning and implementation ensures that the IT investment is fully aligned with the university’s research focus.
How do you see your role with IT students and the IT community outside of UC?
I think it’s tremendously important to connect people with the right resources and partnerships—to communicate authentically and follow up on commitments. That’s the sort of relationship you want to have with your customers, your vendors, and your community network. One of the hallmarks of a successful community is a relational way of doing business based on quality assurance, best practices and reliability.
The Greater Cincinnati start-up community is particularly generous. Recently, I had the opportunity to introduce UC students to the founders of Batterii. These talented and generous entrepreneurs have launched a third successful startup. They are great role models—willing to have conversations and exchange ideas. I know if I send an intern or a student there, they will encounter generous people who will make time for real dialogue.
What is the biggest challenge you have with IT meeting business objectives?
Change is a constant. We are often “building the plane while flying.” Listening, validating and having agreement on outcomes (transparency, deliverables, timeline, cost-benefit, and sustainment) are the keys to navigating effective change management across all areas of enterprise information technology. Project management resources—especially people—help us navigate the course together with our partners. We build trust in one another and that trust—combined with a spirit of helpfulness, communication, and transparency—moves the needle significantly toward mutually beneficial results.
An example of an area of rapid change and transformation is eLearning. At UC, thirteen percent of enrollments are currently in programs delivered completely online. These students experience UC without ever stepping foot on campus.
eLearning is not only about convenience and cost-savings. It’s primarily focused on student success. As the technology organization for the university, we focus our energy on partnerships that support our faculty and ensure students have the very best learning experiences in all environments—fully or partially online, in-person, in classrooms and in the community.
To deliver eLearning well is an evolving science that requires investments of time, talent and budget. This is a major shift in our educational mindset. It’s not just about following trends or the launching of the newest device; it’s about sustained collaboration and complimentary technology choices that assure the best outcomes for our students, our faculty researchers and community partners.