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February 7, 2018 by Laura Phagan

CWC’s Chief Information Officer Represents Higher Ed on National Panel

Chief Information Officer, John Wood

Central Wyoming College is part of more than 2,000 colleges and universities that are part of Educause, which focuses on information technology issues in higher education. Educause, higher education’s largest technology association, identified 2018’s Top 10 IT Issues in higher education on Wednesday, Jan. 31. 

Information security was the key issue identified.  This has been the third consecutive year this issue has been a focus for colleges and universities to advance their institution’s strategic priorities. Student success followed as a close second priority, with institution-wide IT strategy and data-enabled institutional culture coming in third and fourth respectively.

When you are a small, rural college, you sometimes question whether or not the issues you are dealing with are the same issues that larger scale universities are struggling with in urban areas. The opportunity to participate in a national study of this scale gives us confirmation that indeed we are dealing with the very same challenges that institutions like Yale and Harvard are and we have the chance to discuss best practices in solving them as well. ”

John Wood, CWC CIO

The list of top IT issues is chosen by a panel comprised of 25 individuals from more than 2,000 Educause member institutions which is comprised of private and public institutions as well as smaller colleges and larger universities. The panel  provides feedback to Educause on current issues, problems and proposals across higher education information technology which is then voted on by the Educause community.  CWC was randomly selected to participate in the panel and Wood was the lead representative for CWC.

“It was a real honor to participate in the process. There were some very impressive people on this panel who were experts in their field in higher education,” Wood said. “We participated in conference calls with Susan Grajek, vice president of Educause, and they chose people from a large variety of sectors of higher education; public and private, large and small colleges, rural and urban.”

Wood said that in the end it concluded with three major points: security, mission and efficiency. The Equifax data breach was part of many conversations. With colleges keeping records of student information which includes private information such as financial aid and student conduct, information security was an imperative topic not just for colleges but for every industry this year. 

“We have to take that responsibility seriously and that is reflected in security being our number one ranking,” Wood said. “Secondly it is apparent that technology has become mission critical for every industry, education included. We are in the business of helping students succeed, therefore, technology and student success go hand in hand. Technology is critical to helping our students succeed. And third, technology drives efficiency and innovation in the operations of the college. Things like human resources and business office operations are where you can improve processes and efficiencies and therefore drive down costs.”

Educause and the college focus groups involved created top 10 IT issues which can be viewed in their recent publication or online, The top 10 IT issues is something Educause publishes each year for institutions to review.

“IT reads the issues to make sure all of them are being addressed for our college,” Wood said. “In almost all cases smaller colleges are already addressing those issues but it’s a great teaching tool and an assessment plan to make sure we are doing what needs to be done for the college.”

Wood was one of four chief information officers selected to lead the discussion and webinar for 2018.