The Second Decade and Beyond

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© 2008 Diana G. Oblinger. The text of this article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License (

EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 43, no. 1 (January/February 2008): 4–5

The Second Decade—and Beyond

Diana G. Oblinger

Diana G. Oblinger is President of EDUCAUSE. Comments on this article can be sent to the author at [email protected] and/or posted to the web via the link at the bottom of this page.

In times of transition, two categories of advice typically emerge: the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” camp and the “Any change is good” group. Oftentimes, the assumption is that respecting the past (“If it ain’t broke…”) is the equivalent of standing still. And in a rapidly changing world, standing still likely means falling behind. I believe that the best way to respect the past is to build on it to create an even better future.

In its first decade, EDUCAUSE can point to significant accomplishments for both the association and the IT profession:

  • EDUCAUSE membership has increased from 1,400 to over 2,200 institutions.
  • EDUCAUSE has become the leading voice in national IT policy issues and in teaching and learning with technology.
  • EDUCAUSE offers a range of professional development opportunities, from a “boot camp” for new managers to a premier leadership-development event.
  • EDUCAUSE holds regional conferences and one-day seminars to reach members across the country.
  • EDUCAUSE has moved beyond print to deliver information in the form of audio and video.
  • Higher education now has chief information officers—and many of them sit at the executive table with the president, provost, and chief financial officer.
  • IT is today considered absolutely essential to all colleges and universities.
  • EDUCAUSE and the IT profession have worked together as a community to advance IT on a global scale.

EDUCAUSE and the IT profession have done well. We should celebrate those accomplishments. But these successes do not mean that we can stand still. The rest of the world certainly isn’t. Think about the rapid emergence of new technologies. Think about how IT has become a strategic differentiator for business, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Think about just a few of the challenges that await IT in higher education:

  • Cyberinfrastructure
  • Web 2.0
  • Access by and success of students
  • Business continuity
  • Enterprise systems
  • Leadership development
  • Security
  • Privacy
  • Internationalization

Yet along with all of these challenges, there are constants. EDUCAUSE is an association dedicated to the intelligent use of IT. EDUCAUSE supports those involved with IT, whether they are engaged with infrastructure, services, administrative systems, research computing, teaching and learning, finance, policy, or emerging technologies. Our philosophy has been that we cannot focus only on IT; we must concentrate on all the things that IT enables.

Another constant is that EDUCAUSE serves its members. The corresponding challenge is that members’ needs are changing all the time—whether because of the technologies or because of the issues they generate. The technologies and the issues that existed a decade ago seem relatively simple in comparison with many of today’s challenges. So, the question is: What can EDUCAUSE do to address members’ needs?

Sift, sort, and synthesize information. There is so much information available that no individual or organization can keep up with all the details. EDUCAUSE can help its members by sifting through the trends, issues, and technologies available and helping them focus attention on those that are most promising or most likely to cause problems. In an environment where no one has enough time, sorting out the best information and synthesizing trends and issues can be a significant service.

Catalyze conversations. Among the greatest assets of EDUCAUSE are its relationships and its ability to convene discussions. EDUCAUSE can gather the collective wisdom of its members (colleges, universities, and corporations) and friends (other associations, government organizations, foundations). By actively convening these participants and encouraging conversations on emerging topics, EDUCAUSE can help crystallize issues and catalyze action on the part of the community.

Promote IT as a critical institutional asset. Although those in the IT profession feel that IT is critical to their organizations, not everyone in the institution believes the same. Sometimes this is due to a lack of understanding: some may not understand RSS or Web 2.0, for example. EDUCAUSE can communicate about technologies and practices in understandable terms. At other times, it can show the connection between IT and critical institutional issues. EDUCAUSE can help institutional leaders better understand the role that IT plays.

Lead the community. Higher education must address a wide range of IT issues. EDUCAUSE can use its credibility and position to frame these issues and to provide thought leadership to the community. It can also extend its leadership-development efforts. Members can be empowered and encouraged to lead from wherever they are in their institutions.

To do all this—to synthesize, catalyze, promote, and lead—EDUCAUSE relies on its members, on you. What can you do? Tell your colleagues about the accomplishments of EDUCAUSE and about how they might benefit by becoming a member of our community. Help us reach the future generation of IT leaders and workers, as well as those existing IT professionals who are in departments or units that may not consider EDUCAUSE to be their professional home.

At this transition point, we celebrate the past accomplishments of EDUCAUSE. But there is still much for us all to do. As individuals—and as an association—we have many more opportunities to grow, to contribute, and to transform our profession and higher education.

Please join us as we create the future of EDUCAUSE. After all, you are EDUCAUSE.