EDUCAUSE, NACUBO, and Cross-Enterprise Collaboration

min read

One of the three EDUCAUSE strategic priorities calls for expanding partnerships and collaborations. To meet our objectives for this priority, we will be helping members strengthen their connections across their individual campuses. In addition, we will be expanding EDUCAUSE’s own relationships with other associations and organizations. Our existing collaboration with NACUBO (the National Association of College and University Business Officers) is a good example of what can result from this priority on deeper partnerships.

We just wrapped up the fourth EDUCAUSE/NACUBO Enterprise IT Summit, a gathering of higher education IT and business office leaders to discuss and build strategy around their collaborative efforts. For this event, EDUCAUSE staff members work hand in hand with NACUBO staff to determine a theme, develop an agenda, solicit speakers, and invite participants. This close collaboration creates an event that is useful for both IT leaders and business office leaders, and it demonstrates the synergies that are possible when cross-enterprise relationships are highlighted.

The relationship between NACUBO and EDUCAUSE has evolved over the years to achieve the close collaboration we now enjoy.

The Early Years: Ad Hoc Collaboration and Awareness

A quick search of the EDUCAUSE and NACUBO websites unearths evidence of collaboration stretching back to 2000, very soon after the formation of EDUCAUSE.  These early resources show a nascent but astute awareness of the need for IT leaders to work in partnership across the institution to address the challenges of higher education. During this time, NACUBO published an article [] calling out the importance of effective relationships with other higher education associations, such as EDUCAUSE, to help advance institutional effectiveness. And we partnered on an executive briefing on Recruiting and Retaining Information Technology Staff in Higher Education.

The Middle Years: Cross-Pollinating and Building a Relationship

During the middle years, both associations looked for ways to provide expanded expertise to our members. Our collaboration became more in-depth as we sought to include perspectives from across both memberships in research efforts. As we explored areas for collaboration, an ECAR study looked at the chief business officer perspective on IT, and a joint research project examined how funding priorities are established in higher education. Leadership from EDUCAUSE and NACUBO gave presentations at each other’s conferences and events.

Recent Years: Formal Collaboration

EDUCAUSE reached a new stage in the partnership with NACUBO when we created the EDUCAUSE Enterprise IT Program, with advice and input from NACUBO, and when we formalized our collaboration on the Enterprise IT Summit.

  • In 2013 EDUCAUSE convened an expert panel, including representation from the business officer community, to consider the future of administrative IT. One of the key findings was that “all of higher education has to work together to realize the potential of administrative IT to reduce costs and advance the institutional mission.”
  • That led to a joint working group on administrative systems and services that developed suggestions for ways to maximize the cost-effectiveness of administrative services and systems. The working group’s report stressed the importance of working with key stakeholders across the institution in an effort to drive transformation in administrative systems and services.
  • These collaborative efforts informed the EDUCAUSE decision to start up a new Enterprise IT Program in 2014. This program includes a close connection with NACUBO as a critical part of its efforts, with representation from the NACUBO community on its advisory committee and with cross-programmatic linkages on its website, blogs, and other materials.
  • The Enterprise IT Summit has been a formal collaboration between our two associations since its founding in 2014. We consistently hear that members value the opportunity to meet with attendees from across the enterprise to talk about higher education issues and how they can join together to address those issues. We publish a summary report of the proceedings following each event, both to remind attendees of highlights and to allow non-attendees to benefit from the rich discussions (see those reports here: 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017, forthcoming).

We’ll use our experience of collaborating with NACUBO to inform the development of collaborations and partnerships with other associations. But the point of a collaborative mindset is to be looking always for the next evolution, so we’re not going to be satisfied with what we’ve done in past years. As we make progress on this pillar of our strategic plan, we’ll grow and enhance our existing NACUBO intersections as we bring other associations and partnerships into our collaborative efforts.  We recognize that the partnership between IT and the business office is only part of the higher ed collaboration picture, and we’ll consider including additional partners in future summits to make the conversation even richer.

In his inspiring keynote presentation at the recent Enterprise IT Summit, Arizona State University President Michael Crow commented: “We did what we did by integrating technology in all aspects of the institution.” His comments confirm what EDUCAUSE members know: it takes collaboration across the entire enterprise to use technology in ways that deeply impact institutional goals.

John O'Brien's signature

John O’Brien is President and CEO of EDUCAUSE.

© 2017 John O’Brien. The text of this blog is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.