4 key tech strategies for the survival of the small liberal arts college — from campustechnology.com by Kellie B. Campbell
In a recent study on the use of technology to reduce academic costs in liberal arts colleges, four distinct themes emerged: the strategic role of IT; the importance of data; the potential of alternative education delivery modes; and opportunities for institutional partnerships. Here’s how IT leaders at these small colleges understand the future of their institutions.


In this study, the flexibility of the semi-constructed interview format resulted in a fascinating level of honesty and bluntness from participants. In particular, participants’ language changed when they were asked to take off their professional hat and consider a new point of view — it was a chance to be vulnerable and honest. What was probably most interesting was that almost everyone signaled that the status quo is not sustainable. Something in the higher education model has to change for institutions to stay open, yet many lack a strategy for effecting change. Even if they do have a strategy in place on the business side, many are hesitant to dive into analysis and change on the academic side of the institution.

Institutions simply cannot continue to nibble at the edges of change. Significant change is needed in order to sustain the financial model of higher education. The ideas for doing so are out there, though the work must be guided by the institutional mission and consider new models for delivering education. CIOs and their departments can play an important role in that work — providing infrastructure, data, access, services and ideas — but institutional leadership at large needs to understand IT’s strategic role and position the organization to make that impact.

When participants were able to think about the “what if” question — what if the institution were forced to drastically cut academic costs — several had detailed, “out there” ideas that might not be traditionally welcomed into higher education cultures. Yet a number of participants were not being asked by their institutions to think about such ideas. The question is, if everyone agrees that the status quo is not sustainable, why aren’t they thinking about it?