Technology is one of my favorite higher education topics. It is, of course, a dynamic vector into the future of our field; it streamlines processes, maximizes efficiency, and opens new frontiers.
But more importantly, technology allows institutions and individuals to come together—across oceans, time zones, and fields of study—in ways and at speeds that were simply impossible before the Information Age. This kind of cooperation is the foundation of higher education, and is what makes our field such a powerful engine of ingenuity and discovery.
That is why I am particularly pleased to introduce this special technology issue of The Presidency, which highlights a broad spectrum of strategic insights and best practices from some of higher education’s foremost practitioners and thought leaders:
In this edition’s main feature, we shine an admiring spotlight on seven best practices for leveraging data to bolster academic achievement and maximize resources, including those at California State University, Fullerton; Georgia State University; Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis; John Carroll University (OH); Purdue University (IN); the University of Delaware; and the University of Iowa.
Georgia State University President Mark P. Becker’s article describes how his institution innovated a new system of predictive analytics and interventions that has dramatically improved outcomes: The campus’s graduation rate has jumped 22 percentage points overall—including 30-point gains by both African American and Hispanic students—and achievement gaps among race, ethnic, and economic groups have been eliminated.
University of Maryland University College (UMUC) Senior Vice President for Analytics, Planning, and Technology Pete Young shares the process that led his institution to develop a technology platform that boosted completion and persistence rates. The innovation, which also increased enrollment while reducing recruitment costs, was so successful that it has been spun off as a fee-for-service venture that uses profits to reduce tuition for UMUC students.
At the University of Michigan, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Atmospheric Science Perry J. Samson channeled his frustration about the limits of lecturing into developing a tool that allows his colleagues to gather and apply real-time student engagement data that help improve teaching.
Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO of Lumina Foundation, shares an update on a Lumina-funded effort by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers and NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education to extend transcripts into a digital-first model that better reflects student competencies.
Smaller institutions often find themselves paying disproportionately large sums for software and other necessities. But as an article by Higher Education Systems and Services Consortium Board President and Shenandoah University (VA) Vice President for Finance and Administration Bob Keasler reminds us, a large group of independent institutions working together can have a big impact—not just on lowering costs, but on their ability to focus on their core academic missions.
Such exemplars of creativity and inventiveness are truly inspiring. As these and other colleagues in the field continue to find ways to do the work of higher education better and more efficiently, I am fully confident that our colleges and universities will emerge stronger and more resilient than ever as they prepare students for taking our innovations to the next level.
Molly Corbett Broad
American Council on Education