In his Drury Magazine article “Techie Talk: A Digital Revolution,” Executive Vice President, Chief of Staff, COO, and CIO David Hinson explores the challenges of managing technology infrastructure in this “brave new technological world.” As the “consumerization of technology” alters expectations for the university space, Hinson argues that leaders must adopt a growth mindset to deliver upon, and plan for, ready access to technology. This access predicates faculty performance and student success, as the well-equipped student will be able to develop the critical thinking skills that facilitate lifelong learning.
Before addressing the technology challenges at Drury, Hinson takes a step back to fundamentally reevaluate capital technology investments and their connection to Drury’s institutional mission. Ultimately, keeping up with the “arms race” of technology expectations compounded by budgetary restrictions encourages Hinson to partner with Apogee. Apogee’s managed residential networking solution, funded by Drury’s existing student technology fees, offloads the installation, responsive student support, and onsite repair burden for the residential network from Drury’s team. While Hinson is unable to share specifics, he states with confidence that the Office of Academic Affairs will be unveiling a new academic platform to emphasize more reflective and personalized learning systems. Thus, offloading management of the residential network to a partner is allowing Hinson’s team to plan for more mission-critical technology advances. In Hinson’s words, “the legacy we are creating today [will] water and shade those dreamers and learners of tomorrow,” implying that today’s foundational technological infrastructure will allow future Drury students to achieve greater success.
While Hinson’s story underscores his visionary approach to supporting Drury’s students, his challenges are not uncommon. Small, private institutions are facing immense pressure as expensive tuition deters loan-adverse students from attending. Technology acceleration is occurring at an exponential rate, challenging higher education leaders to abandon reactionary measures in order to plan for success, support students who do attend, and attract prospective students. Broken funding models that treat technology as capital expenses without planning for advances and/or refreshes will not be able to keep up with students’ expectations for changing technology. And unfortunately, with more institutions closing their doors and/or merging every year, the stakes for refusing to optimize funding models and plan for change are high.