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December 2013

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Education Summit Identifies Solutions for Higher-Ed’s Thorniest Challenges

During Oracle’s recent Leaders Circle event in San Francisco, an invitation-only executive forum coinciding with Oracle OpenWorld 2013, Oracle executives and leaders from colleges and universities highlighted the top roadblocks to student success and explored how technology can address these issues. Cole Clark, Oracle global vice president of education and research and a keynote speaker at the summit, discusses the biggest takeaways from the event.

Q: The education summit included CIOs, CFOs, and other leaders at colleges, universities, and research institutions. What were some of the issues they were most concerned with?
A: The presentations and panel discussions examined thorny issues in higher education today, including the need to improve student outcomes and completion rates, as well as the need to dramatically increase operational excellence across higher education. When it came to recommending ways that technology can address these challenges, one of the overriding themes was how to achieve standardization, simplification, and consolidation of internal processes. To illustrate this, we featured an Oracle customer—Sendur Kathir, the CIO from the University of Melbourne in Australia —who spoke about his institution’s journey from what had been a siloed approach to IT, in which each academic area manages its own solutions, to systems that are enterprisewide and data-driven. Readers can find several videos about the University of Melbourne’s initiatives here.

Q: How are schools achieving these goals?
A: Several ideas came out of the discussions. For example, speakers at a panel discussion talked about the changing role of the CIO in higher education. They see the position evolving to become more of a chief “innovation” officer, versus remaining the operational function it has been in the past. Leaders in higher education and the rest of the industry are realizing that for technology to be transformative, they need individuals who can provide information and insight and show non-IT people opportunities for innovation—much like the information we provide on Oracle’s C-Central. In short, the industry needs people who are change agents.

Q: Do executives outside of IT also play a role in transformation?
A: Definitely. For example, Mark Becker, president of Georgia State University, discussed how the school is unifying data from sources across different departments and into a single institutionwide resource for student success. He explained that to break down those barriers he had to become a driving force for that kind of change; it simply wouldn’t have been as impactful if he hadn’t personally gotten all the constituencies to share their data with the team that managed the initiative. Similarly, Gordon Wishon, the CIO of the University of Arizona, described the impact of his university’s student success system, which the school’s president had endorsed several years ago. These stories reinforced the notion that to be truly transformative, an institution’s leadership must make projects like these a priority.

Q: How does Oracle support transformation in higher education?
A: Oracle isn’t a company that just sells point solutions to educational institutions. Our focus is to look at higher-education challenges holistically and recommend what we call industry solutions. These solutions bring together our broad product portfolio of technologies for the education industry, along with our deep industry expertise, to help schools improve graduation rates and ultimately help students advance in their careers.

Learn more about Oracle’s solutions for education.

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