We here at Campus often speak with stakeholders at every level of higher education. As people seek solutions for to age-old problems in higher ed, ranging from enrollment and retention to communication and community building, there are simply some nuts that have yet to be cracked.
Sometimes the conversations we have with administrators are rich, candid, and transparent. But just as often, the discussions are stilted, guarded, or difficult. The reasons for such dramatic swings are all over the map. Some stakeholders are simply more understanding of context. A recent conversation with the CIO of one of the largest university IT teams in America said it best, “Why on Earth did you choose to sell into higher education? We are more dysfunctional than any other sector out there and it takes forever to get even the slightest technology implemented, which will often fail due to implementation anyway…” We all shared an uncomfortable laugh.
Some administrators forget that we are educators, not just a company of programmers or sales people. Campus has more than 7 decades of higher education administration experience on our executive team alone, not to mention 25 years of faculty / teaching experience (some of us still teaching today), aside from almost half a century as higher education students. But regardless, sometimes stakeholders will make statements that seem desirous to hide reality or guard some kind of secret regarding their institution, when we all know it simply not to be the case.
Occasionally, the system itself creates barriers. From silos to ego to not-playing-well-with-others, the reasons are numerous, but predominant. Those struggles can be always be addressed and even empathized with, although sometimes they present a barrier too high to climb over and too think to break through.
Sometimes our conversations are quite positive, though. We experience discussions about implementation and savvy project managers talk about adoption and change, which is one way our product is unlike many others in our space – we have implemented it on the ground. We know what it is to fight political fights, to lose ground to bureaucracy, to implement a partial solution due to silos and power plays…all on campuses of higher education. We are not just technologists looking to sell something cool. We are trying to help solve universal problems in a sector that is under more scrutiny than ever.
So here you will find what we would really like to say to various buyers. In other words, if we could talk openly, honestly, and candidly with a President, Provost, CIO, Dean of Students, VP of Student Affairs, Advancement Director, Communication Director, Provost of eLearning, etc., the following blog series represents what we hope the conversation would include. The tag “Campus Conversations” is all you will need to see the various blogs addressed as an open letter to you, the people in higher education who are on the front lines, and who need as much (genuine) help as you can find.