The evolving role of the higher ed CIO
CIOs are deeply involved in institutional governance,strategy, and the development and adoption of technology and information systems.
- The role of the CIO in higher ed has evolved into a cabinet-level management position, involving deep engagement with institutional governance and strategy
- Today's CIOs should understand, embrace, and champion their institutions' fundamental academic mission
- The job of a CIO has become far more demanding over the past 15 years
Cornelius Kerwin, president emeritus and professor of public management and public policy, American University
On this campus, and I think on many others based on my conversations with colleagues around the country, the role of the chief information officer now is largely assumed to be one of senior management—cabinet level, and deeply engaged in the fundamental governance of the university. A decade and a half ago, our CIO was in a reporting position to a vice president. Today, our CIO is a vice president, is someone who is expected to participate not just in the development of technology and information systems, but in fundamental strategy for the institution as a whole.
I think the contemporary chief information officer is now someone who has institutional-level responsibilities. And what that requires is, of course, complete understanding of that element of the management of the institution that he or she is directly responsible for. But far beyond that, the chief information officer has to be acutely aware of each critical element of his or her institution's mission. They not only have to be aware of it; they have to embrace it. They have to be champions of it.
Their understanding of what information can do for an institution hinges on an appreciation for the academic work of the institution, both in terms of the dissemination and the creation of knowledge, the support of students, support of faculty, and the support of staff. They have to understand the elements of financial integrity of an institution. They have to understand the role that this university and other universities play in keeping critical stakeholders fully informed about the work we do. So, the job of a CIO has become far more demanding over the past decade and a half.