The EDUCAUSE Strategic Plan: What Isn't Said [video]

min read

In this conversation, EDUCAUSE President and CEO John O'Brien and EDUCAUSE Board Chair Helen Norris discuss a few things EDUCAUSE members should know about the new EDUCAUSE strategic plan.

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Helen Norris
Vice President and Chief Information Officer
Chapman University

John O'Brien
President and CEO

Gerry Bayne: What are three things that you think everyone should know about the EDUCAUSE strategic plan?

John O'Brien: Well, I'll go with one and then you jump in. You know, I've said many times that anybody has done a strategic planning process, knows that every single word is probably an hour or two of conversation. That's absolutely true. In our case, what's really interesting about our plan too, is there's words that aren't in the plan that represent really deep and important conversations. So you look at our vision statement, which is our, you know, where we wanna be in five years, and it's inspiring the transformation of higher education and service to a greater good. A lot of words there, a lot of hours there, but doesn't mention technology. And what does that mean? Does it mean it's, well, of course we're still obsessed with technology. It's what we do, but the vision for the future is not the tool we use to get there. And so that was a really deliberate conversation to not include the word technology, but to focus on where technology can take us and the difference that we think technology can make. Also not in there, is IT, not the top 10 IT issues anymore? It's the EDUCAUSE top 10. And so we're trying to recognize that our community is no longer what it has been. The heart and soul is the CIOs and IT professionals, but we're also institutional researchers, instructional designers, CISOs, and on and on. And that our community strength is who we include. Not who we leave out, but what, yeah. What do you think?

Helen Norris: I think that's exactly right. It's intentionally positioned to be more inclusive and less focused on a particular area. The other thing you asked what three things we might say. Three's a magic number.

John O'Brien: Yeah.

Helen Norris: There's three goals. So that I think makes it manageable, you know, for us to think about. But one thing I'd like to say about the goals, and we've even heard this from members of the community. They are strategic, they're high level, but they're actionable. And our intent would be that over through the life of this strategic plan, what will come from EDUCAUSE will be things we can use. You know, things that are actually gonna help us in our day-to-day life as we as CIOs and as professionals and higher ed work to transform the organization. So they're both strategic, they're looking at it from the top, but really we want to make sure that there's some actionable outcomes.

John O'Brien: We did a member survey, and it's probably really important for our members to know, we actually listened to the responses to the member survey. And one of them we heard loud and clear was more actionable items, more action oriented, more concrete, more takeaways. And so we really are gonna be, you're gonna be seeing that more than ever in the years ahead, so that you won't see that called out, but that's written in between the lines of this whole thing.

Gerry Bayne: So, just to wrap up, is there anything else you'd like to add that we haven't covered? Either about the strategic plan or EDUCAUSE in general of what you see in 2024,

John O'Brien: I wrote an article in 2019. I wrote an article in-

John O'Brien: Before the pandemic.

John O'Brien: Thank you for the, I get stuck in decades, in 2019 before the pandemic, which seems like 1818, I wrote an article on digital ethics. And that was before any of the generative AI. I mean, AI was there, but before any of the explosion of interest. And I think sort of underneath and woven throughout this plan with this idea of, of transforming with a greater good is this theme of digital ethics. And, you know, the whole generative AI world is gonna challenge and test our commitment to ethical principles in design and taking out bias and removing discrimination. And I just think that this is our test. And I think it's in there. Higher ed needs to lead the way in that. And I think we have the opening we need in this plan if we're gonna really focus on the greater good. Well, there we are.

Helen Norris: Yeah, and I think one of the other themes we see through the three goals, it's around partnership and people. The emphasis in all of these social tools is on the social, not on the tool or the technology. And that, I think is something that I'm excited about. The possibility of developing better partnerships with our industry partners. The focus on caring for our community our very diverse community. Those are the things that I think are gonna help us really transform our institutions.

Gerry Bayne: Great.

John O'Brien: Last word. If you haven't read it, I wrote an article in EDUCAUSE review that just came out about our strategic plan.

Helen Norris: Yep.

John O'Brien: And the ending to that article was, the way I would end today is this is a chance for you to get engaged in EDUCAUSE. If you've been, you know, you've been recognizing that this community has been helpful to you at some point in your career and you've been wondering or wanting to give back, now's the time because we're heading off into these new directions and we need you and could use you. So find a way to connect, find a way to be part of this great community, and that would be fantastic.

Gerry Bayne: Helen, John, thank you so much.

John & Helen: Thank you.