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Reflections on EDUCAUSE

Several of us from OIT (including Jac Hoffsten and Patton Fast) attended EDUCAUSE last week. If you haven't previously attended an EDUCAUSE conference, please let your manager know - I'd like to see others attend next year (Denver, Colorado.) Aside from attending some great track presentations, EDUCAUSE is a terrific opportunity to connect with others in higher education. It's not just for managers; there are great track presentations that cover a wide spectrum of possible audiences.

I'd like to reflect on a particular track presentation that had a great impact on me.

EDUCAUSE has a research center called ECAR. Philip Goldstein presented the results of recent ECAR research on Leading the IT Workforce in Higher Education (ID: ERS0807). The research examined critical topics including the potention impact on the workforce of CIO retirements, succession planning, and leadership effectiveness. The presentation also touched on rising leaders' perspectives on the CIO role.

Update: (12/3/08) EDUCAUSE recently hosted a live event, where Phil Goldstein presented his research. Slides and multimedia are available in the archive.

According to the study, a leadership crisis is looming in higher ed. Goldstein states 48% of the senior-most IT leaders (for example, CIOs) intend to retire by 2018. While the current economy may bring that number down a bit, it's still alarming that only 23% of rising leaders in higher ed aspire to become a CIO. In short, we'll soon lose more IT leaders in higher ed than we'll have to replace them.

One way to address this is through mentoring, to build up the next generation of IT leadership. If you are a manager, engage your staff in some one-on-one meetings. Find out where they want to go, what are their goals. You may be surprised to learn that some of your staff may wish to become a Director or CIO in the next 10, 15, 20 years. Encourage those that are interested to enroll in some of Central HR's half-day seminars on leadership. (The great thing about these is that most are free, so it's not a big deal if you take the class then decide it's "not for me.")

If you are someone who is interested in moving into a leadership role, talk to your manager. If you aren't comfortable discussing it with your manager (for whatever reason) please feel free to schedule some time with me. The point is to discuss your plans for what you want to do. Maybe you want to change career tracks - let us help you get there. Or maybe you want to step into a larger role - we can help find opportunities. Where possible, we want to encourage personal growth so that our teams are filled highly motivated people who enjoy doing the work that they do.

I found it interesting that mentoring IT staff was the center of interest at another track presentation, late on Thursday afternoon. Many of the same topics were discussed, and they closed with this message: if we don't build up the next generation of IT leadership, we are doing ourselves and our institutions a huge disfavor. It's everyone's responsibility to take a part - current IT leaders need to build up those who will provide tomorrow's leadership, and rising leaders need to communicate with their managers if they want advice and help in making that next step.