Being a Social CIO at a Liberal Arts College

Being a Social CIO at a Liberal Arts College

Perhaps the most important role that a Chief Information Officer has, is to be an advocate for the role of technology at the senior leadership level.

We live in a world of ubiquitous connectivity, knowledge, and entertainment. How do we incorporate that “new normal” into the residential college experience? A significant component of what I do is focus a lens on what technology means for today’s students, and to insert that perspective into the priorities of the College.

There is a perception that technology is antithetical to a traditional liberal arts education. And that’s simply not true. There are studies that show that a blended use of technology, coupled with traditional methods of teaching, can produce outcomes superior to using either approach alone. But I do not see it as my job to force technology upon faculty. Pedagogy drives our technology planning, and not the other way around.

The definition of what constitutes work and learning spaces now means being able to work, learn, and study anywhere we have an Internet connection. Students are constantly connected, and voraciously consume video and content. Our greatest opportunity -­ and challenge -­ is to keep our networking infrastructure ahead of the demand curve, and recognize that this is now no longer an amenity, but a baseline necessity for our students and a competitive advantage if we can successfully communicate our capabilities to our prospects.

As an entrepreneur, I was always dialed into the importance of promoting my personal brand, as a key part of my business’s overall marketing strategy.

When I transitioned to CIO in 2011, I eased off my social media activity until I could get my bearings with regard to my new position. It’s one thing to promote your personal brand when you’re the CEO; it’s quite another to do so as a senior member of the administration of a leading liberal arts college.

But once I understood how I could retain my authenticity, and still help craft interesting conversations about the College within my established social networks, I relaxed and just let the stories about the cool projects we were working on develop organically.

The key is to be true to yourself, respect the brand and institution(s) you represent, and be accountable for your conversations in the marketplace of ideas.

That – and a ton of self­ editing.

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