February 2019 EDUCAUSE Board of Directors Meeting

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EDUCAUSE CEO and President John O'Brien provides an update on the February 2019 EDUCAUSE Board of Directors meeting.

Laptop with hands on the keyboard. Screen is showing a couple of graphs.

The EDUCAUSE Board of Directors met February 26–27, 2019, in Washington, DC, for our regularly scheduled meeting. At the start of the meeting, the board members shared their praise for the recently released EDUCAUSE Review Special Report on the 2019 Top 10 IT Issues ("The Student Genome Project"), with one board member calling it the "best ER issue" so far. The board similarly expressed appreciation for the new personalized newsletters, especially the CIO-specific newsletter.

Board Chair Michele Norin began the meeting by highlighting an effort at this and subsequent meetings to increase the proportion of time we devote to strategic thinking on topics of interest and importance to the association and to our community. We all see this as a very positive evolution for the board, and the new approach was embraced.

Michele Norin and Elias Edayrie sitting at a conference table.
EDUCAUSE Board Chair Michele Norin and Board Member Elias Eldayrie

Following this intentional new balance was the president's report, with key updates provided by the EDUCAUSE executive team. This discussion moved quickly through key topics, including the following:

  • Progress on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and the selection of members for the new DEI Advisory Committee, including Cheryl Washington as chair and Rae Clemmons as a board representative
  • The successful EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) annual meeting held the week before, with the second-largest attendance ever (almost 700)
  • Event updates such as the upcoming Enterprise Summit in partnership with NACUBO and AIR
  • New cohort of leaders joining the Young Professionals Advisory Committee (YPAC)
  • A new analytics statement being drafted by NACUBO and AIR with community member involvement
  • The EDUCAUSE digital transformation (Dx) initiative
  • Process improvement initiative for the annual conference
  • Strong continued progress of the EDUCAUSE IT department in implementing the recommendations of the report from Moran Technology Consulting
  • An overview of major research and publications for 2019 (Top 10 IT issues, the IT Workforce in Higher Education report, the Strategic Technologies and Trend Watch, and the Horizon Report)

Vice President of Digital Communications and Content Catherine Yang shared recent changes to EDUCAUSE Review, specifically that it has gone from six print issues to four per year. She noted that print Special Reports, such as the recent one on the Top 10 IT Issues, offer an opportunity to provide additional content. She also spoke about the new targeted newsletters that started to go out to members a week before the board meeting. Immediately following the release of that week's CIO newsletter, which focused on DEI, there was an increase in signatures to the CIO's Commitment on DEI, showing the value and potential of more personalized communications.

Following these updates, the board was presented with a status report on the 2019 organizational goals, which support our five-year strategic priorities. The board engaged EDUCAUSE staff in a conversation specifically about the community platform and how it will interact with the digital learning platform. The board expressed satisfaction with the progress made to date and also made some suggestions for improving progress reporting on annual organizational goals for future meetings.

EDUCAUSE Senior Advisor Jarret Cummings, joined by Josh Ulman and Katie Branson of Ulman Public Policy, led an open Q&A around higher education and technology-related policy issues, including digital privacy regulations, net neutrality, and reauthorization of the Higher Education Opportunity Act. In addition, he shared information on a possible modest increase in the fee for .edu management. The fee increase being considered would be the first since the current rate was set 13 years ago, and it is tailored to specifically address the increasing costs of efficiently, effectively, and securely administering the domain. The federal agency that oversees .edu administration must approve changes in the .edu registration fee, however, and its review of the proposed increase remains ongoing.  

Vice President of Business Services and CFO Stacy Ruwe led the board through a financial report on the financial status and health of the organization, sharing that, overall, EDUCAUSE is in a healthy financial condition. Ruwe shared that EDUCAUSE underspent its budget in 2018 for a variety of reasons, including salary savings from vacancies and increased revenue resulting from higher-than-expected membership growth and stronger-than-projected corporate sponsorships. On the flip side, investment income came in at a loss of $1.4 million, in line with how the markets performed in general. Board Treasurer Keith McIntosh reported on the work of the Finance/Investment Committee. Finally, both Ruwe and McIntosh asked for volunteers to serve on the Audit Committee: Elias Eldayrie and Loretta Parham stepped forward to serve.

Next Ruwe shared data on membership, including growth rates. Specifically, she pointed out a 2 percent growth in member count across all member categories between 2017 and 2018. Ruwe also reviewed the proposed dues increases for 2019–2020. McIntosh moved to approve the proposed dues rates for July 1, 2019, and the motion passed unanimously. Discussion followed on the importance of better telling the story of the value of EDUCAUSE membership.

The board unanimously approved a comprehensive updating to the EDUCAUSE Bylaws, a project that began last year with a subcommittee led by former Board Member Kay Rhodes. Following the vote, the board thanked Kay for her leadership.

EDUCAUSE Board and Enterprise Planning Director Nicole McWhirter provided an overview of the EDUCAUSE policy landscape. The board discussed policy development under way and plans to assemble a board policy and procedure manual in which all specific board policies, procedures, and process will be compiled and regularly reviewed and updated. McWhirter shared that the next step is to move, out of the bylaws, any details and content that are better suited as policies, as well as to develop specific policies per bylaw language. Additional policies will be brought forth to the board for approval at the June and October meetings, with the goal of having a complete board policy and procedure manual ready for new board member orientation by October. The intent is that once all new board policies are initially approved, each policy will be reviewed once within a three-year period on a regular schedule, unless changes need to be made earlier. The board approved new membership and investment policies.

Our guest speaker was Jim Fong, chief research officer at UPCEA, the association for professional and continuing education. He started his presentation by flying a drone around the room to capture everyone's full attention for his talk about "the convergence of a new economy, emerging demographics, higher education, and the demand for technology workers."

Jim Fong with his hand out in front of him and a drone a couple of feet in front of his hand.
Jim Fong, Chief Research Officer, UPCEA

Next, Vice Present of Professional Learning Eden Dahlstrom led the board through an engaging activity to reflect on career/leadership trajectories and the role played by professional learning. Dahlstrom shared information on efforts to modularize EDUCAUSE Institute programs, advance badging/microcredentialing plans, and work to empower members to track their own paths and progress.

The meeting concluded with a thirty-minute executive session discussing the membership structure and inviting board feedback.

Note: Longer accounts of this and other board minutes are archived here. 

John O'Brien's signature

John O'Brien is President and CEO of EDUCAUSE.

© 2019 John O'Brien. The text of this work is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License.