Article

An estimated 56 percent of higher education leaders said that the strategic influence of IT increased greatly during the pandemic. In addition to ramping up their capacity for online teaching and learning, institutions relied on digital solutions to facilitate remote operations, sustain research, deliver student services, and meet goals for admissions, enrollment, and fundraising. Leaders had to meet the needs of various stakeholders while operating under tightened budgets and an unpredictable future.

The solutions developed didn’t just facilitate an emergency switch to remote instruction. New modalities of teaching and learning have changed the future of higher education, and that transformation shows no sign of slowing down.

At Ellucian, we are completely focused on using technology to support higher education success and proudly partnered with The Chronicle of Higher Education to sponsor a survey of more than 600 senior administrators from colleges and universities. This report explores how technology has equipped institutions to meet the challenges of the pandemic while also paving the way for future innovation.

Below are six key takeaways from The Chronicle of Higher Education Report about the strategic technology decisions made during the pandemic and their impact on the future of higher education.

1.    HyFlex could be the way of the future

Students aren’t willing to let go of the flexibility that came with online learning. In-person experiences are still a critical part of higher education, but many predict a new “HyFlex” model—learning in the classroom, online, or both—will become the new traditional way of learning.

As students expect more individual choice in their education, institutions with the infrastructure and willingness to offer a wider range of learning experiences will find a competitive edge. “I anticipate that the number of instructional modalities we’ll be discussing will be much, much larger than it was the last time we looked at a contract,” says Mary Ann Rafoth, provost of Robert Morris University.

Whether or not the HyFlex model becomes the norm remains to be seen, but its staying power will be bolstered by the new revenue streams it creates, particularly regarding those students who may not have otherwise enrolled in exclusively in-person programs.

2.    The CIO has a bigger seat at the table

The CIO has always had an important voice in technology discussions, but as a greater portion of higher education processes go digital, CIOs are playing exponentially larger roles in keeping institutions competitive. This is not only true in terms of operational needs—as would be expected throughout the pandemic—but also regarding institutional strategy. In a 2020 survey of senior IT leadership conducted by Educause, over half of respondents noted an expansion in how IT informed key business decisions and shaped academic directions.

“We are seen as the ‘connective tissue’ of the institution, a key partner in making the pivot to remote teaching, learning, and administration,” said one survey respondent of their role in information technology. Just as the digital transformation hasn’t slowed down, the strategic influence of IT is likely to continue growing in the future, positioning CIOs as true thought partners for presidents and other institutional leaders.

3.    Collaboration among campus leaders is key

According to more than half of respondents to The Chronicle’s survey, when institution-wide decisions were needed during the pandemic, more faculty members, administrators, and other stakeholders were brought into the conversation than had previously been the norm. With varied opinions and needs being expressed beneath one clear objective, challenges were circumvented earlier, leading to quicker wins overall.

Results from the survey suggest that while decision-making may have become more democratic, it has not always been streamlined. Institutions that strike a balance between effectiveness and efficiency will be best equipped to navigate the landscape of higher education as it continues to evolve.

4.    The integration of technology is key to campus operations

When the pandemic hit, business-as-usual wasn’t an option. It took a dramatic shift from the traditional way of doing things as institutions leaned on technology to support students in the new normal. Moving forward, the benefits that the cloud, automation, and artificial intelligence bring have been proven and can be implemented on a wider scale.

Success does not depend on technology alone, but also on the people and processes putting it to use. When asked about challenges for technology investments, 56 percent of respondents identified “faculty reluctance,” while nearly half were concerned about training the campus community to use new learning tools.

Furthermore, while many students demonstrated comfort in remote learning, there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach. “When we had to suddenly move everything online, it brought into very sharp focus the divide between the haves and the have-nots in terms of what [technology] students had at home, and how much harder online learning is for low-income students,” one respondent says. This “digital divide” will persist until institutions make concentrated efforts to close it by ensuring all students have the tools they need to learn online.

5.    The time for cloud is now

The cloud has been a key part of the massive digital transformation being experienced by higher education, as supported by 96 percent of responding leaders citing cloud-computing services as “somewhat valuable” or “very valuable” during the pandemic. Institutions saw firsthand how the cloud improves student outcomes, increases security, enhances operational efficiency, and enables business continuity.

“Leaders know that they have to simplify technology management. They know that they need to invest and reinvest,” says Susan Grajek of Educause. “Cloud moves a lot of that effort and expertise offline. It helps to simplify technology management.” The cloud gives you the agility and space to innovate. When products work in the cloud, your institution can make better decisions and your IT staff can focus on the most critical priorities.

6.    Budget constraints are the top concern when it comes to implementing technology

As digital solutions continue to advance rapidly, institutional access to them may struggle to keep pace, as evidenced by 75 percent of respondents citing budget constraints as a significant barrier to adopting academic technologies.

While the pandemic stretched higher education institutions and forced them to make quick decisions about technology, it also showed them what they could be doing better. It proved that students can learn effectively online, processes can be improved to save time for staff, and more can be done with data.

While budget will always be a barrier, the cost of not innovating and adopting technology will soon overcome it, which is why competitive institutions will continue investing in future solutions.

Conclusion

We are headed toward a “new traditional” that will mean future investments in the critical strategic role of technology. Reflecting on that potential, John O’Brien, the president of Educause, noted that “technology can no longer be seen as a utility working quietly in the background. Now more than ever, technology is a strategic asset that is vital to the success of every higher-education institution.”

How those tools will be utilized is a question for each institution to answer. This is particularly true when addressing ongoing challenges in higher education such as improving affordability and accessibility, serving diverse student populations, and establishing new academic programs in line with a choice-driven market.

Meeting these challenges will require not only executing solutions on an operational level, but embracing technology as a core pillar for strategy and big-picture decision-making. Institutions must meet constituents where they are to improve the student experience at every stage and in every learning environment. They need to move away from manual practices and streamline processes, implement machine learning, and increase the use of data and analytics to make smarter decisions.

The results of the survey show that despite the challenges of the pandemic, institutions are committed to student success. They understand the importance of exploring new processes, embracing technology, and maintaining a clear focus. The world has changed—so has higher education.

Read the full report

Trends & challenges in higher education
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Ellucian
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Teaser Text

Six key takeaways about the strategic technology decisions made during the pandemic and their impact on the future of higher education.

Article

Information with any value will always be at risk. Even institutions with world-class security systems know that a breach is still possible, even likely. The best strategy? Plan ahead.

A well-rounded security plan accounts for both short- and long-term needs, mapping out actionable strategies to reduce risk, while knowing how to address the inevitable breach. Just as threats evolve, infosec plans must be continually revised alongside the policies and technology that support them.

10 questions to gauge the strength of your information security plan

1. Do we know our security requirements? 

To outline, budget for, and implement an effective security program, you must first understand what needs to be protected and what it will take to do the job right. This includes taking an inventory of the following: 

  • Your institution’s data and information assets
  • The technology, people, and processes that affect how that information is stored and shared
  • The security posture of your partners and other external parties
  • The tools and capabilities required to safeguard your assets

Even systems and data that are not under the direct control of your central IT team should be included in this audit. The institution is responsible for protecting all its information assets, regardless of ownership, so your plan must be comprehensive.

2. Are we staying up to date on legal and regulatory requirements?

In addition to your own internal standards, there are a range of legal and regulatory policies governing data privacy and protection. Requirements may vary by state, country, and institution type, but failure to comply can impact your funding and reputation.

The best strategy for staying current and compliant is to create a strong partnership between your IT and legal departments. Don’t leave it to technical staff to interpret the law. Your legal team is best equipped to: 

  • Understand and monitor local, state, federal, and international policies 
  • Put regulations in context as to how they relate to your institution and the level of risk involved 
  • Help manage compliance 

3. Do we have adequate policies and standards? 

Every school should have a clear set of policies and standards governing how institutional data gets used, stored, and shared. Here are a few guiding principles: 

  • Develop an “Acceptable Use” policy that dictates what employees and other users can or can’t do on the institution’s network and systems 
  • Set standards for how often passwords must be changed and how strong they must be 
  • Create policies governing the use of personal devices on campus

The SANS Institute—a non-profit organization serving security professionals across multiple industries—offers templates for creating and implementing a range of information security policies. 

All employees should be educated and expected to follow institutional policies and standards. Ensure other users are informed of their responsibilities as well. Some organizations have a formal certification process for new employees—or all employees at regular intervals—to ensure compliance.   

4. Are we tightly managing identity and access?  

Identity and access management is about giving the right people access to the right information at the right time. If you don’t keep a tight rein on who’s accessing what, you leave multiple entry points for hackers. 

For example, here are two common scenarios that put many institutions at risk: 

  • There are dozens of systems across campus that aren’t linked and require separate IDs and passwords. To make life easier, staff tend to use the same password for a low-security system (like a survey application) as they do for a high-security system (like payroll). A hacker then only needs to break into the survey application to gain entry into payroll. 
  • There isn’t a clear process for changing or removing credentials when employees switch roles or leave the institution. Perhaps a disgruntled former employee can still access financial information or a staff member who has moved to a new department can still access information that’s no longer relevant to their job.

As institutions across the country weathered transitions to remote learning, new security gaps emerged, possibly accounting for the number of ransomware attacks on higher education doubling between 2019 and 2020, as reported by Educause. Now is the time for institutions to ensure they have a unified, centralized system for managing identity and access—one that is well integrated into daily business processes.   

5. Have we engaged senior management and the board? 

Security is not just a technology challenge, it’s a business imperative. Given the large potential impact of a data breach, senior management and board members must be highly engaged in information security planning. IT alone cannot weigh risk vs. cost or ensure a culture of compliance at every level of the institution.

When faced with funding decisions for network security, senior leaders need to understand exactly what’s at stake. According to IBM’s 2021 report, the average cost of a data breach in the education sector is $3.79 million. For colleges and universities, however, the true expense can’t be calculated, as any failure to secure personal information risks noncompliance with federal regulations, potential funding opportunities, and most critically, student trust.

6. Are we providing adequate ongoing education? 

Lack of awareness and education about security threats is one of the biggest risks for most institutions.

You must have a well-documented and adequately resourced plan for ongoing information security training. This could include everything from mandatory courses on phishing and malware to regular messaging on the latest threats.

Educause offers a number of free resources institutions can use to educate faculty, staff, and students about cybersecurity. 

7. Are we careful when choosing partners? 

When retail giant Target experienced a massive data breach in 2013, it was not their own network that hackers broke into but rather the network of a heating and air conditioning sub-contractor that had worked at a number of Target stores.

No one remembers the name of that HVAC company, but they surely remember Target as a company that loses personal data. Target also paid a heavy financial price to rectify the situation and appease customers. The key takeaway? You are ultimately responsible for your students’ and employees’ personal data, even when—especially when—it’s being shared with third-party vendors. So, choose partners wisely.

Ask potential partners the same hard questions about the security of their information systems as you do about your own. Discuss auditing and compliance up front. Put processes in place to hold them accountable. If they can’t meet your standards, look for someone who can. 

8. Are we using appropriate technology? 

Technology can greatly enhance information security. The key is to modernize and simplify, since complexity only makes it harder to monitor and control who is accessing what.

  • Identify and retire legacy systems and business processes that are needlessly cumbersome or no longer receive security patches.
  • Streamline the steps you use to grant system and data access, as well as those used to close the loop once an employee moves on.
  • Install updates and patches as soon as they’re available.
  • Invest in new tools and technology regularly

While it might feel like the investments you’ve already made will soon be obsolete, a lot of malicious activity remains rudimentary in nature. If you’ve implemented basic security protocols and technology, they’ll still be effective against all but the most advanced attacks for quite some time.

To address more advanced threats, or if you’re having trouble getting basic systems and processes in place, consider relying more on partners. Vendors that specialize in information security have significantly more resources and expertise than institutions can likely build in house. Transitioning data to the cloud, for example, might be a smart security move for institutions with outdated infrastructure or skills. By outsourcing some aspects of security, you can use your own resources more efficiently.

9. Do we aggressively follow up on incidents?  

We live in a world where data breaches are “when” not “if.” That’s why responding appropriately to security incidents is as important as preventing them.  

Gather data on incidents that will help you reduce recurring issues or prevent more damaging impacts. Establish routines and best practices, so that you can mobilize quickly in the event of a breach. Review and analyze your trends. Data can also help you make the case for spending more money on things like firewalls or network intrusion detection.   

10. Are we making continuous investments? 

Information security is an ongoing practice, not a one-time implementation. You will never be fully protected because there will always be new threats. But with careful planning—and a sustained investment of resources—you can effectively mitigate risk.

Make sure that your annual and long-term budget for information security reflects its level of importance to your business. Help decision makers understand the link between data protection—or lack thereof—and successful recruiting, advising, fundraising, and other key functions. Stay actively engaged with industry forums and workgroups to understand evolving threats and security best practices.

Get comfortable with discomfort 

Planning for something to go wrong, in a world where what can go wrong is constantly changing, is uncomfortable, to say the least. But if you can get comfortable with discomfort—becoming agile, alert, responsive, and realistic—you can create the level of security that faculty, staff, and students need to thrive. 

Learn more about information security in higher education. 

Insights - Infosec tips
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Ellucian
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Learn how to revise your plan to keep pace with threats and legal requirements. 

Article

Despite global disruptions throughout higher education in 2020 and beyond, institutional success will continue to be defined by the ability to attract new students, effectively educate them, and inspire their ongoing support as alumni. What’s changed, however, are consumer demands in the wake of the pandemic and evolving market trends.

Enrollment, student success, and alumni relations are all pieces of the same puzzle—the student lifecycle. By treating them as such, institutions can meet students' evolving needs and maintain continuity from recruitment to graduation and beyond.

Reimagining recruitment

In the past decade, the demand for higher education has begun to slide, with prospective students no longer seeing college as an inevitable step on their career path. The pandemic has only exacerbated this change as institutions scramble to meet expectations during a period of upheaval.

In a survey conducted by Inside Higher Ed, 91% of responding college and university admissions officers were “concerned” or “very concerned” about meeting their enrollment goals for the fall 2021 semester. As institutions look beyond COVID-19, recruitment tactics must evolve to sustain the lifecycle.

Modern communication

Social media has quickly become a go-to recruitment tool, but in today’s attention economy, a panoramic shot of campus is going to have some tough competition for engagement. To reach a generation of students that grew up online, the answer is not to jump on the latest TikTok trend, but to embrace the kind of peer-to-peer authenticity that’s come to define influencer culture. In addition to a steady cadence of institution-led social posts, consider hiring students as digital ambassadors to “take over” admissions’ Instagram stories for the day. These glimpses into daily life create mini campus tours that can engage prospective students anywhere.

While video may have killed the radio star, social media hasn’t yet finished off email, particularly when dealing with application logistics. Recruiting in uncertain times means clear, consistent communication is of the utmost importance, and as modern consumers, prospects expect messages to come to their inboxes already personalized.

Being able to pivot quickly institutional goals as the landscape evolves is also critical. By leveraging existing technology such as a constituent relationship management (CRM) systems, institutions can manage these targeted communications adeptly and at scale to ensure every applicant gets the exact information they need.

Evaluate evaluations

In response to widespread testing site closures in 2020, hundreds of institutions made a radical decision: cut standardized tests from their admissions requirements. While the ACT and SAT have long-defined college-readiness checklists, University Business notes test-optional policies were already prevalent among some schools before 2020. This is largely due to the potential bias standardized tests give wealthier students with greater access to tutoring and preparatory resources.

Whether or not test-optional policies become the norm, this is an opportunity to pause and evaluate past practices. Enrollment leaders will need to determine which metrics of success are most meaningful for their institutions moving forward. Likewise, as these requirements are updated, application volumes may spike, making it critical to equip admissions staff with the right tools and technology ahead of time.

Building a foundation for success

Once applicants receive their long-awaited decision letters, it’s the institution’s turn to wait for admitted students to become enrolled students. The right outreach at the right time will help the undecided imagine their future at an institution and take the next crucial step toward matriculation.

Lend a hand with financial aid

The ability to pay for a degree is often the weightiest factor in deciding to pursue one, particularly as the national student loan debt experienced a record-breaking increase of 3% between Q2 2020 and Q2 2021.

To make higher education more attainable, institutions must first ensure admitted students—particularly those who are first-generation and/or international—can easily navigate the federal aid application process. This applies to returning students as well. According to the National College Attainment Network, in the 2020–21 school year, there was a 4.7% drop in the number of lowest-income students who renewed their FAFSA by the national deadline. Without aid and hoping to avoid debt, these students are most at risk of dropping out. It is critical to have a financial aid system that can disburse aid accurately and efficiently, provide insights into student needs, and align to the nuances of external regulations.

Social support near and far

A sense of belonging is one of the most crucial success factors for new and returning students alike, but it’s challenging to measure. Traditional students may find community in extracurriculars, but what about part-time, remote, and continuing education students? How do institutions create a campus culture when, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education, only 16 percent of undergraduates were living on campus even before the pandemic?

Today’s engagement strategies must account for the growing number of students who don’t participate in activities or flock to sports. As institutions seek safe ways for their students to convene on campus, they must continue to nurture the remote and asynchronous activities that got their community through 2020.

Accounting for basic needs

Especially in times of widespread economic precarity, institutions must be attuned to their community’s daily needs. Using data to support student well-being on a holistic scale helps alleviate financial stress to ensure students can stay enrolled, focus on their learning goals, and reach graduation.

Access to food, housing, child care, and transportation are crucial for student success, as reaffirmed by a nationwide survey conducted by The Hope Center that found nearly three in five students experience “basic-needs insecurity.” The pandemic has greatly exacerbated financial hardships for many students and institutions have begun accounting for these needs through voluntary data collection, partnering with local groups to supply vital resources.

Paving the way to graduation

One of the greatest threats to fostering an active and thriving alumni base is getting students to the finish line in the first place, which is why institutions invest so heavily in supporting students through that crucial first year of learning. Those systems tend to decentralize soon after, however, relying on individual interventions to keep students on track to graduate.

A monolithic approach to student success neglects the vast and growing population of part-time, transfer, and otherwise non-traditional students without dedicated orientation programs. Institutions must revise their success strategies to meet a wider range of student needs across the entire completion span. This is especially relevant as a higher percentage of historically underrepresented students enroll in higher education with their own specific needs.

Streamlined degree pathways

As it became clear that the pandemic’s effects would extend far beyond initial lockdowns, students around the world were forced to radically change their academic plans. According to the latest Student Voice survey reported by Inside Higher Ed, 25% of students returning to four-year colleges have altered their completion timelines and/or changed their plans for post-graduation due to COVID-19.

Student advising is only as effective as it is efficient, creating direct paths to completion with the fewest detours possible. To create these paths, the modern campus will rely on collaboration technology, sharing data between departments as well as empowering students with the information they need.

Many institutions may have taken this opportunity to prepare for a guided pathways model, if they hadn’t implemented one already. This student-centered approach has gained popularity for its clearly defined roadmaps to degree completion, and its proponents have begun adapting the model to best suit a wider range of constituents. While younger students may need space to explore their interests, older, working students often want to graduate quickly and take their next steps on a career path.

Closing gaps in career readiness

Today, higher education is not only reckoning with disrupted timelines but also new and widening gaps in career readiness due to lost networking and work experience opportunities. For many low-income students, however, these gaps were already impacting their post-graduation earnings potential before 2020, as evidenced by PayScale’s research.

While restoring pathways to success, institutions should consider how to do so equitably. Unpaid internships, study abroad, undergraduate research, and networking opportunities are career-building activities that are not always accessible to low-income students. By ensuring constituents can make use of these resources regardless of wealth, institutions are making an investment in student success, as well as future alumni’s capacity to give back to their schools after graduation.

Lifelong alumni relationships

University advancement in 2021 operates in an entirely different landscape compared to the capital project-driven campaigns of years past. With wallets snapping shut against uncertainty, forward-thinking institutions have already innovated, embracing micro-campaigns, data-informed alumni outreach, and virtual events to meet their goals. But in the face of declining donor pools, colleges and universities can’t limit their outreach to alumni. Instead, they must cultivate philanthropy throughout the student lifecycle, ensuring they can count on support from future generations year after year.

Meaningful engagement between past and present students

Graduation is a common breaking point in student engagement in part due to institutions operating academic affairs separately from advancement and alumni relations. Fostering collaboration and data-sharing between these departments will create parallel opportunities for alumni to engage with their successors, and for current students to develop a culture of philanthropy long before graduation.

As fundraising efforts pivoted in 2020 to meet student needs, donors rose to the occasion, but alumni engagement can extend beyond financial support. Create opportunities to contribute in more experiential ways such as volunteering, tutoring, mentoring, and professional consultation. Given the world’s growing access and comfort with video conferencing, these initiatives can connect alumni all over the world with current students.

Advancement offices should also continue educating students about philanthropy and the role they can fulfill as alumni in supporting future classes. Senior class giving programs, general student fundraisers, giving days, and crowdfunding initiatives all help fuel ongoing projects and create a seamless transition from graduate to donor.

Continuing education programs

Higher education was already experiencing a curricular evolution before 2020, but now the job market has irrevocably changed, and degrees are no longer the golden ticket to a lifelong career. In response, a host of new education models have arisen in service of consumers who aren’t seeking two- or four-year experiences, but specific skill-building opportunities.

“The looming issue for higher education is not just the explosion of alternative providers, but their world-class quality,” The Chronicle notes, citing Google and the Museum of Modern Art as two of the new powerhouses with which local colleges will soon compete. Traditional degrees must now share space with certificates, microcredentials, and badges. These competency-based offerings break away from the standard academic model to provide the specific skills and knowledge consumers are looking for.

While competition can be seen as a threat, it’s also an opportunity, particularly for extending the lifecycle. As former students decide to continue their education, the first place they’re going to look is their alma mater’s course catalog. By investing in more robust and flexible workforce development programs, institutions can strengthen existing alumni relations, with the added benefit of attracting new non-traditional students.

Beyond the lifecycle

When it comes to student engagement, there is no going back to “normal.” Student demographics are shifting and so, too, is the market. While the pandemic catalyzed change throughout higher education, institutions have the opportunity to accelerate their own evolution, embracing new technologies and strategies to nurture lifelong relationships with their constituents.

 Campus Life Student Engagement
Ellucian
Ellucian
9
Teaser Text

Look at the student lifecycle holistically and meet students' evolving needs throughout enrollment, student success, and alumni relations.

Results

  • On day one of using CRM Advance, the institution processed a $50 million gift
  • Greater efficiency and insight through reporting and integration
  • Processing complex gifts is simpler with a system designed specifically for higher education philanthropy

Summary

Advancement, in general, is going through a real change. There's a divestment from state and local governments for higher ed, and enrollment is dropping with the millennials now graduating. We now are having to search more for the next generation, and the next generation is not as big. So, we need to think about, “How do we leverage technology to make ourselves more efficient?”

We chose Ellucian CRM Advance because we were looking for technology that was built today, that had a future tomorrow. By pushing your data and infrastructure out to the cloud, you save a lot of time and resources, and taking advantage of a vendor like Ellucian to be able to provide us that support, really takes my staff and allows me to use them in far more strategic areas.

The first day that we went live, we were able to process a $50 million gift. A $50 million gift is not as simple as a simple transaction, so there was four or five different parts to the gift. Some of the gift was direct cash, some of the gift was planned giving vehicles. It actually is a testament to the new software to take a very complicated gift and to be able to book that on day one, was a real testament to the flexibility of the product.

Now that Ellucian CRM Advance is live, we have a lot of opportunities that we've never been able to think of, or consider, before. Some of the most exciting things that we're looking to work on are predictive and prescriptive analytics, embedding that into our system to where, if a certain activity occurs, then we can automate a process to make something else happen.

For colleagues that are looking for a new CRM solution, I really do encourage them to think about not only were they want to be but wherever they would like to go. To paraphrase the old Wayne Gretzky quote about not skating to where the puck is, but to skate to where you believe the puck is going to be. That is one thing that I believe Ellucian CRM Advance solution provides, an opportunity for the future, not just thinking about what you need today, but what you need tomorrow.

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Improving advancement through technology

How the Oregon State University Foundation uses cloud-based
Ellucian CRM Advance

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Author
Mark Koenig
Assistant Vice President for Advancement
Oregon State University Foundation
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How the Oregon State University Foundation uses cloud-based Ellucian CRM Advance

Ellucian Expands Strategic Partnership with D2L

Closer alignment ensures customers a seamless end-to-end experience from sales through support

RESTON, VA  — Ellucian, the leading higher education technology solutions provider, today announced an expanded partnership with D2L, a global learning innovation technology leader. Based on customer demand, the organizations will extend their existing technology partnership to be inclusive of enhanced go-to-market capabilities to better serve customers.

As today’s higher education institutions recognize the evolving needs of students, faculty and staff, an integrated experience across technology providers is essential. Through their existing API integrations, Ellucian ERP/SIS platforms and D2L Brightspace automatically synchronize user, course and enrollment updates across systems in real-time and in bulk for hundreds of customers. A stronger partnership between Ellucian and D2L will make it easier for more colleges and universities to integrate their LMS and ERP/SIS platforms, ensuring a streamlined experience beginning with the sales process through to implementation and support.

“Ellucian’s open SaaS Platform was designed to support the unique and ever-evolving needs of higher education. With seamless integrations to Brightspace, Ellucian customers can link essential data to inform decision-making across all facets of the higher education experience,” said Steve Harris, Chief Revenue Officer, Ellucian. “Building on our longstanding partnership with D2L, our expanded agreement demonstrates our commitment to open and extensible technology platforms and will make it easier for institutions to secure the greatest value from their investments.”

"D2L is committed to delivering an integrated teaching and learning experience that enables the exchange of student information that is designed to drive collaboration, personalization and engagement," said Puneet Arora, Chief Revenue Officer at D2L. "We're delighted to expand our partnership with Ellucian, a leader in student information systems, and further enhance our powerful learning innovation platform, which currently enables more than 1,800 applications and technologies. I know our customers and partners will benefit greatly from our enhanced ecosystem that unites people, processes, data and technology to create highly personalized learning experiences.”

Ellucian proudly partners with a world-class ecosystem of organizations to provide higher education solutions and services that drive value for its customers, communities, and shareholders. For more information, visit: https://www.ellucian.com/partners.

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Company News
 EDUCAUSE 2021: Ellucian Showcases Solutions, Insights and Partnerships that Deliver the Future Now

RESTON, VA and PHILADELPHIA, PA — Ellucian, the leading higher education technology solutions provider, today announced details of its onsite presence at EDUCAUSE 2021, the annual conference that brings together IT leaders and professionals in higher education. Ellucian’s plans include breakout sessions, product demos and in-booth sessions reinforcing the company’s commitment to supporting the unique needs of today’s higher education institutions and learners.

More than 50 Ellucian experts will be onsite meeting with customers, partners and other conference attendees. Activities will highlight Ellucian’s ecosystem of innovations that connect all aspects of an institution’s technology on Wednesday, October 27 and Thursday, October 28 at booth #401. Demo stations will feature conversations around core application solutions, student lifecycle, extensibility and Ellucian Experience, the company’s new SaaS-based user experience platform that addresses student expectations and simplifies campus life.

“At Ellucian, we spend every day focused on how we can help drive success for the 26 million students and more than 2,700 institutional customers who benefit from our technology. Our solutions and services deliver modern technology platforms to support institutions so they can deliver the future now,” said Laura Ipsen, President and CEO, Ellucian. “Working with our partners and customers across the EDUCAUSE community, Ellucian is delivering the experience tomorrow’s students expect today.”

Ellucian’s 2021 EDUCAUSE Sessions include:

The Role of Institutions and Technology in Creative Inclusive Communities for Students in Online Learning
Wednesday, October 27, 2:15 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. ET
Location: 203AB, 200 Level
Presenters:
Tara Kissel, Senior Learning Experience Designer, Ellucian
Heidi Schuler, Learning Experience Designer, Ellucian

‘Crisitunity’: Learning from a Difficult Time to Make a Better Future
Thursday, October 28, 9:15 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. ET
Location: 108AB, 100 Level
Panelists:
Dr. Timothy M. Chester, Vice President for Information Technology, University of Georgia
Rupa Saran, Dy. Chief Information Technology Officer, Coast Community College District
John Rathje, Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer, Kent State University
Moderator: Dr. Timothy M. Chester, Vice President for Information Technology, University of Georgia

In-Booth Theatre Sessions:

Theater sessions will be held in Ellucian’s Booth (#401). Each 20-minute session will start at time indicated, with 15 minutes for presentation, and five minutes for Q&A. To register for the sessions below, visit https://lp.ellucian.com/educause-2021-booth-theater-registration.html.

Session: Connecting Your Campus Ecosystem with Ellucian Ethos
Wed, Oct. 27 at 12:30 p.m. ET
Thurs, Oct. 28 at 3:10 p.m. ET
Presenters: Mariam Tariq, SVP of Product Management, Ellucian; Michael Kennedy, Principal Solutions Consultant, Ellucian

Session: The “Experience” Your Constituents Need
Wed, Oct. 27 at 1:10 p.m. ET
Thurs, Oct. 28 at 12:30 p.m. ET
Presenters: Connie Minnick, Principal Solutions Consultant, Ellucian; Michael Kennedy, Principal Solutions Consultant, Ellucian

Session: Your Path to the Cloud
Wed, Oct. 27 at 1:35 p.m. ET
Thurs, Oct. 28 at 1:10 p.m. ET
Presenter: Bob Zwarycz, Solutions Architecture Director, Ellucian

Session: Improve Enrollment Outcomes with CRM Recruit
Wed, Oct. 27 at 10:35 a.m. ET
Thurs, Oct. 28 at 10:35 p.m. ET
Presenter: Tim Dawson, Principal Solutions Consultant, Ellucian

Session: Streamline Your Workflows for Your Campus
Wed, Oct. 27 at 3:10 p.m. ET
Thurs, Oct. 28 at 10:10 a.m. ET
Presenter: Connie Minnick, Principal Solutions Consultant, Ellucian

Session: Discover the Student Lifecycle – Learn More About CRM Advise and Degree Works
Wed, Oct. 27 at 10:10 a.m. ET
Thurs, Oct. 28 at 3:35 p.m. ET
Presenter: Tim Dawson, Principal Solutions Consultant, Ellucian

Ellucian is leading the digital transformation of higher education with more than 1,100 institutions worldwide in the cloud. For more information, visit: https://www.ellucian.com.

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Missouri Valley College Selects Ellucian to Upgrade Technology Operations

Ellucian Colleague ERP to Modernize the User Experience for Students, Faculty and Staff

RESTON, VA and MARSHALL, MO — Ellucian, the leading higher education technology solutions provider, today announced that Missouri Valley College (MVC) has selected Ellucian Colleague to modernize its technology operations. A new Ellucian customer, MVC joins more than 650 institutions worldwide using Ellucian Colleague.

Missouri Valley College will implement Colleague, a comprehensive ERP platform that connects students, faculty and staff across departments — including admissions, registration, student services, and billing. The new infrastructure will deliver flexibility and long-term sustainability, while both increasing IT security and providing 24/7 access to online services. Moving to Colleague will reduce manual processes and create a more efficient campus, equipping faculty and staff with integrated data across systems to support student success.

“We are thrilled to have partnered with Ellucian as we venture into a large-scale digital transformation here at MVC. We believe that this partnership will take our technologies and student services to new heights. Most importantly, we will be able to become a much more agile campus, a need that was recently heightened by the on-going pandemic,” said Omar AlRefae, Principal Software Engineer and CIO.

“Missouri Valley College recognizes that today’s students have high expectations for a modern user experience across all aspects of their daily life – including their college experience. By implementing Ellucian Colleague, MVC is transforming to meet the unique needs for their users, providing easy access and expanded offerings for students, faculty and staff,” said Laura Ipsen, President and CEO, Ellucian. “Colleague will unlock efficiencies campus-wide while freeing up IT resources to be more attentive to student needs. We welcome MVC to the Ellucian customer community and look forward to a strong partnership.”

For more information on Ellucian Colleague, visit: https://www.ellucian.com/solutions/ellucian-colleague.

About Missouri Valley College

Known for its dynamic, richly diverse, and friendly educational environment, Missouri Valley College offers many opportunities to grow in mind, body, and spirit. Grounded in the liberal arts, undergraduate studies empower students to master interdisciplinary skills needed to succeed in a knowledge-based global society. MVC offers over 30 academic programs, study abroad program, extracurricular activities, and a wide variety of sports. The most popular majors include education and business, criminal justice and exercise science. Above all, Valley is committed to student success. For more information, call (660) 831-4000 or visit www.moval.edu.

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Springfield College to Modernize Operations Using Ellucian SaaS Solutions

Cloud technology to streamline processes, integrate data and deliver an exceptional user experience

RESTON, VA and SPRINGFIELD, MASS — Ellucian, the leading higher education technology solutions provider, today announced that Springfield College has selected Ellucian’s SaaS technology to modernize operations and improve the user experience for students, faculty and staff. A new Ellucian customer, Springfield College joins more than 1,100 institutions worldwide in the cloud with Ellucian.

Using Ellucian Banner, a cloud-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution, Springfield College will integrate systems and improve workflows across financial management, human capital management, financial aid, customer service and the institution’s Student Information System. Integrated data across systems will equip faculty and staff for better decision-making campus-wide. Upgrading operations to a SaaS environment will remove significant maintenance and administrative burdens for the institution and ensure business continuity with a modern, easy-to-use platform.

"After an extensive search, we look forward to our partnership," said Dr. Mary-Beth Cooper, President of Springfield College. "We see Ellucian Banner SaaS as an integral part of our overall strategic commitment to accelerating a digital transformation that leverages best practices, drives operational efficiencies, and builds a modern, more integrated, and responsive technology that meets the needs of our students, faculty, and staff. Ultimately, we will be able to serve our community's evolving needs while remaining agile and affordably sustainable."

“We are pleased to welcome Springfield College to the Ellucian community. Our partnership reinforces the institution’s commitment to delivering a superior student experience and leverages Ellucian’s SaaS solutions to free up internal resources to focus on student success,” said Laura Ipsen, President and CEO, Ellucian. “Implementing Banner in the cloud will strengthen the resiliency of Springfield College’s technology operations — a proactive step to future proof the institution.”

For more information on Ellucian Banner, visit: https://www.ellucian.com/solutions/ellucian-banner.

About Springfield College

Springfield College is an independent, nonprofit, coeducational institution founded in 1885. Approximately 4,100 students, including 2,500 full-time undergraduate students, study at its main campus in Springfield, Mass., and at its regional campuses across the country. Springfield College inspires students through the guiding principles of its Humanics philosophy – educating in spirit, mind, and body for leadership in service to others.

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Edward Waters University Accelerates Digital Transformation through New Partnership with Ellucian

Florida’s first HBCU to modernize technology operations and improve processes with Ellucian’s Colleague SaaS

RESTON, VA and JACKSONVILLE, FL — Ellucian, the leading higher education technology solutions provider, today announced that Edward Waters University has selected Ellucian Colleague SaaS to modernize its technology operations. A longtime Ellucian customer and one of the nation’s 101 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), Edward Waters University joins more than 1,100 institutions worldwide in the cloud with Ellucian.

Edward Waters University will leverage Ellucian Colleague SaaS, a comprehensive and cloud-based ERP, to optimize processes, empower faculty and staff with greater access to data, and support student success with a better user experience. With the institution’s highest overall enrollment in nearly twenty years, automated processes will provide greater efficiency to support Edward Waters University’s continued growth.

“We are excited about continuing our relationship with the Ellucian family and providing the Colleague SaaS program to our campus community. The services offered will allow us to implement best practices, enhance overall productivity, and increase institutional efficiencies. Edward Waters University continues to seek creative ways to meet the needs of today’s students, instructors, and professionals and systems such as Colleague SaaS will support us in our efforts to evolve how we perform and excel,” said Dr. A. Zachary Faison, Jr., President and CEO.

“With Colleague SaaS, Edward Waters University will accelerate its digital transformation, freeing up internal resources to focus on initiatives that help students reach their full potential,” said Laura Ipsen, President and CEO, Ellucian. “Ellucian’s cloud-based solutions will integrate data across systems for informed decision-making and ensure a better user experience for students, faculty and staff. We’re pleased to support university leaders as they emerge as a model for others, championing academic excellence with modern technology platforms.”

For more information on Ellucian Colleague, visit: https://www.ellucian.com/solutions/ellucian-colleague.

About Edward Waters University

Edward Waters University (EWU), accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and member of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), is a private, historically black, urban college which offers a liberal arts education with a strong emphasis on the Christian principles of high moral and spiritual values. EWU was established in 1866 and is an African Methodist Episcopal Church-related institution of learning. It is the first private institution of higher education in the State of Florida.

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When students go to college, they often leave a safety net of support they've had for most of their lives. While professors and advisors serve as vital mentors, their attention is split between various responsibilities and increasingly virtual classes. Student well-being is in an ongoing crisis at a time in which many of the standard support tools are out of reach.

After undergoing radical changes in 2020, institutions must determine a new “normal” for their campus community in 2021. Just as learning models have been transformed across the world, student well-being support methods must evolve in turn, adapting to increasingly hybrid institutions at which advisors may never meet their advisees in person. Without face-to-face interventions, experts in higher education agree that monitoring student engagement and using that data will be critical to improving outcomes in the coming years. With the right methodology, institutions can create reliable networks of support across departments, providing vital resources to all students, exactly when they need them.

According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, “The overall persistence rate dropped two percentage points to 73.9 percent for fall 2019 beginning college students, its lowest level since 2012.” In the face of ongoing pandemic-related challenges, institutions are reimagining retention strategies across campus, whether in-person or virtual. Comprehensive engagement plans combine personal communication with scalable response systems to support the students that need it the most. But in increasingly hybrid learning environments, how do you identify students in need? That’s where data comes in.

Taking a holistic view of student well-being

While the term “at-risk” has sparked debate in the education community—with alternatives such as “at-promise” being discussed, or a move away from comparable labels altogether—the term has historically described students who may have a higher probability of needing academic intervention. That probability can be difficult to calculate even in the best of circumstances, leaving little time for faculty to react when necessary. With the help of a full lifecycle CRM platform, data can inform proactive engagement, automating response systems for the entire student body and communicating needs to the appropriate advisors.

It’s critical to view each piece of data as exactly that: one part of the whole student experience. Like all data, at-risk categories can be used responsibly to support student and institutional goals, but they can also be mishandled. Belonging to an at-risk category alone is not a clear indication that a student needs additional support, nor should it be used to generalize identity groups. Instead, when used to develop personalized support plans, this information can direct advisors to the most appropriate resources.

Student well-being centers are often the main source of on-campus support, but that doesn’t mean they’re alone in their mission. Colleges and universities are already tracking data with the potential to effectively connect students with the resources they need. By putting that data into action, institutions can create networks of advisors, faculty, and support staff all working toward the common goal of positive learning outcomes. As institutions have mapped out strategies to retain students during the COVID-19 pandemic, the benefits of personalized communication have become increasingly clear. That “personal touch” is still an effective technique, though its form may vary. Automated responses will never replace guided, targeted advising, but effective data use can create a digital safety net, ensuring no student slips through the cracks.

Student on campus

Four types of data points that empower staff and improve student well-being

1. Student performance and engagement

Academic activity is often the first metric advisors use to evaluate success, as the path to graduation is paved with passing grades and consistent attendance. While advisors can react to low performance with additional resources, academic support begins long before the first day of class. By looking at a student’s prior use of tutoring services, remediation records, and high school GPAs, a data-informed advisor can create proactive support plans to best fit each student.

Classes aren’t the only measure of student well-being. Community-building and on-campus engagement are other key metrics. When participation wanes in clubs and student activities, the underlying reasons can vary, prompting advisors to reach out and determine the correct resources to provide. Alternatively, a student who is overloaded with extracurricular activities may benefit from paring down their commitments to focus on the organizations that are most important to them.

Social support may take different forms during the pandemic, shifting more virtually, but a sense of community remains vital to student persistence. Through data-informed mentorship, faculty can embrace a more active role in keeping students engaged and on track.

Data in action

To understand how different types of data are used to support student well-being, we can apply them to hypothetical scenarios, such as the one below.

Molly is a second-year student who recently changed her major to computer science. Eager to fulfill her degree requirements, she packs her schedule with necessary math courses. Molly’s advisor sees that she struggled with statistics last year, and recommends she use on-campus tutoring services to stay on track for graduation. To ensure the tutor is helping Molly’s performance, the advisor can monitor her assignment grades in relation to how often she uses those services.

Molly keeps up with her coursework for the first eight weeks, but her advisor sees a dip in assignment grades around the time she stopped seeing the tutor. With this information at their disposal, the advisor may recommend Molly resume tutoring for the rest of the semester.

Student performance and engagement metrics to track:

  • Grade point average
  • Assignment grades
  • Discussion board activity
  • Student club membership
  • ACT/SAT scores
  • Use of tutoring services
  • Class attendance

2. Financial information

Financial worries create significant obstacles to completion, which has only been exacerbated by COVID-19. In a study conducted by the HEDS Consortium in 2020, students are increasingly worried about meeting basic needs, with 38% of those surveyed concerned about paying bills, 21% about having a safe place to sleep, and 15% about having enough to eat day-to-day.

Student Information Systems (SIS) enable financial aid officers to guide students through every step of the aid process, not only ensuring all the logistical boxes get checked, but also identifying best-fit applicants for scholarship opportunities.

A modern SIS can go beyond financial aid advice, however. For example, the state of Oregon may soon introduce “benefits navigators” as a requirement for public colleges to alleviate food and housing insecurity within campus communities. By tracking access to meal plans, qualification for public assistance, and housing status, institutions can share that information with the appropriate parties to best connect students with resources on campus and beyond.

Data in action

An academic advisor notices one of their students, Jeff, has a hold on his account because of an overdue bill. The hold exacerbates Jeff’s financial precarity, as he needs an official copy of his transcript for upcoming scholarship applications. Using a CRM platform, the advisor can coordinate directly with the financial aid office, who may recommend Jeff enroll in a tuition payment plan. Once the hold is removed, Jeff can then apply for additional scholarships to help fund his education.

Student financial security metrics to track:

  • Financial aid status
  • Scholarship eligibility
  • Meal plan usage
  • Housing information
  • Qualification for public assistance

3. Identification with underrepresented groups

According to a study cited by University Business, “First-generation students are 1.3 times more likely than their peers, whose parents experienced higher education, to leave an institution during their initial year.” Without familial experience in navigating college, these students may need additional guidance to succeed.

First-generation students represent a large at-risk population, but they’re not the only underrepresented group that could benefit from targeted support. Historically, students of color, non-traditional or “later-in-life” students, and veterans are among the groups who may feel alienated on campus.

While the Glossary of Education Reform cautions against “overgeneralizations that may stigmatize students” in identifying at-risk categories, when seen holistically, this matriculation data can inform institutions on how to best support a diverse campus community.

Data in action

Regina and Natalya are both international students with the same academic advisor. Coincidentally, they are both showing unusually low engagement and attendance rates in their first semester. Seeing this, the advisor reaches out to them individually to develop personalized response plans, and may ask if they have sources of community on campus.

Regina is active in several identity-based student organizations that provide her a robust support network, but Natalya discloses feelings of isolation. By talking through each of their specific needs, the advisor may determine that an absence of community is presenting an engagement challenge for Natalya as an international student, but that may not be the case for Regina. With this knowledge, the advisor can guide each student to the most helpful resources.

Data to track on historically underrepresented groups in higher education:

  • First-generation students
  • People of color
  • Veterans
  • International students

4. Accessibility needs

Many students struggled with accessibility challenges long before 2020, but the past few semesters have underscored how one-size-fits-all learning models fail to provide an inclusive education. Instead of seeking universal solutions, institutions must instead use data to track and meet the specific accommodations of each student.

“The pandemic has accelerated the conversation about disability accommodations on college campuses,” the Chronicle of Higher Education reports, “as requests long labeled impossible, such as remote learning and recorded lectures, were universally adopted overnight.” Whether or not these changes will hold true is a question for every institution to answer as they consider what it means for education to return to “normal.”

Whether classes are conducted in person or remotely, accommodations can be as unique as the students they support. By tracking accessibility needs, advisors can ensure that all their students are equipped for success before the start of each semester.

Data in action

Thomas is a returning student with a chronic illness. Virtual learning has allowed him to record lectures and engage with the material when he is feeling well enough to do so. Returning to in-person classes presents a challenge for Thomas, who worries his health will cause him to miss lectures and fall behind. A data-informed advisor will see that recordings are a necessary accommodation for Thomas to succeed and can help him coordinate that resource with his professors.

Data on specific accommodations that can be recorded in an SIS:

  • Use of transcription services
  • Wheelchair-accessible equipment
  • Screen-reading software
  • Flexible assignment scheduling
  • Lecture recordings

Student wellness activities

While personalized advising is the best and most reliable method for supporting student well-being, institutions can provide regularly scheduled wellness activities to help alleviate stress and encourage self-care practices across the campus community.

If a portion of your student body is learning remotely, consider offering at-home or virtual variations of these activities. Additionally, for accessibility reasons, consider providing a range of options with varying levels of physical engagement so all students can benefit from these programs.

Here are a few examples of student wellness activities to offer at your institution:

  • In-person and/or on-demand yoga classes
  • Guided meditation recordings
  • Stress-management workshops
  • Open mental health discussions, led by trained counselors
  • Therapy dog days

Build support systems that will last

While student success depends on a variety of factors, institutions can provide personalized support at-scale with the right advising platform. By leveraging key data, advisors can use holistic views of their students’ experiences to coordinate timely action across departments and promote well-being for every member of the community.

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Just as learning models have been transformed across the world, student health and wellness support methods must evolve in turn, adapting to increasingly hybrid institutions at which advisors may never meet their advisees in person.

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