What Keeps You Up at Night?

What Keeps You Up at Night?

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Before I read the "2005 Educause Current IT Issues Survey" that annually ranks hot issues for higher education CIOs, I took a stab at guessing what three issues are top-of-mind for IT folks. Well, I nailed two out of three. Funding IT was the winner, followed by security concerns, and strategic planning came in third.

I guessed right on IT funding and security, and wrong on strategic planning. I thought wireless would be in the top three.

According to Educause, for the third year in a row, "Funding IT remains the number-one IT-related issue in terms of its strategic importance to the institution." Regarding security, the report said the increasing cost of "securing campus information environments, acquiring and maintaining administrative systems, and enhancing network infrastructure, the heightened national scrutiny of the cost of higher education, and the continuing strain on, if not further reduction in, state budget allocations to public institutions, all contribute to this issue's stability at the top."

We've reported on security issues throughout the year and have received a lot of feedback from readers because it is a constant battle IT has to wage to secure the network from very clever--and dangerous--attacks from hackers, pranksters and even students.

It is an issue we will continue to report on to help you keep your network and systems secure.

We held our first live web seminar last month--"Stategies To Gain a Competitive Edge: Improving The Campus Experience"--and some 260 IHE administrators attended the one-hour event. Many more who couldn't make the event went to our website to view the archived version (which is now available for all to view at www.universitybusiness.com).

By the e-mails and calls following the seminar, the topic certainly was well-received and underscored how providing great all-around service, well-kept facilities and grounds, and good food service can play a critical role in admission and retention.

Our speakers, Bob Sevier of Stamats, Inc., a marketing consulting firm focused on higher education, Peter Cusato, vice president for Business Affairs at Boston University, and Dennis Trotter, vice president for Enrollment and Dean of Admissions at Franklin & Marshall College (Pa.), pointed out how their respective institutions have seen student satisfaction increase by paying greater attention to their facilities, food service, and other non-academic amenities.

Bob Sevier explained how parents are very interested in issues related to academic quality, access to faculty and facilities--and campus security. Sevier discussed what he calls the "Money Walk." That's where he walks the campus and points out an array of problem areas that a particular institution may not be aware of, but that could be considered a negative factor during a campus tour.

Dennis Trotter discussed how the beauty of a campus could contribute to the institution's brand, which can attract faculty and quality students. And Peter Cusato explained how Boston University's 18 quality and diversified dining facilities help build student satisfaction and loyalty.

In the future, we will host more web seminars, on topics ranging from increasing security to improving student retention--the kinds of things IHE leaders tell us keep them awake at night. If you have a particular topic that you think would be a good candidate for a seminar, please drop me a line.


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