Tag Archives: student affairs

Applying the Technology Competency on Your Campus



  • There’s a Google Drive link coming that contains all the information
  • #ApplyTechComp

Pretty good turnout for this session, considering it’s at 8:30 and down in the convention center’s basement ūüôā Got an opportunity to finally meet Lisa Endersby in person and catch up with some #SATech friends. Let’s see what Jeremiah has in store for us…

Lisa introduced Jeremiah and made a few shameless plugs for other sessions at the conference.



  • Competency Background
  • Michigan Tech Background
  • Our Process
  • You and Your Campus

Competency Background

  • Provides a game plan and establishes what we should be doing
  • Tech was incorporated into many different areas in bits and pieces, and talk about a standalone technology competency began in earnest in 2010
  • Special thanks to: Matthew Brinton, Joe Sabado, Josie Ahlquist, Lisa Endersby
  • Established rubric in October 2016! This is a tool that will help members of the student affairs profession to utilize and engage with the competency areas on their campuses.

Michigan Tech Background

  • 7,000 students, founded 1885
  • Our Student Affairs division contains advancement, which is a bit unique.
  • January 2012: a charge from Dr. Les Cook to form a committee to address the 2035 vision of “High Tech, High Touch.” Central idea behind the group to consider how we embrace and push the technology agenda.
  • Technology Advance Committee: multi-member group from all areas of SA and Advancement; research & present seminars/trends and work with professional development committee and leadership team to provide recommendations.
  • Challenge: small surveys work great, redundancy of seminars, needed a plan

Our Process

  • Large doc; how to apply, how to inform, how to standardize?
  • Break down the competency
  • Assess the areas: technical hardware/software; professional dev (networking); technology like SoMe and collaboration tools.
  • We let our IT division know we were planning to do this assessment. Bring them into the conversation!
  • Use your professional networks!
  • Every department has its own SoMe accounts; we needed to figure out what was going on and who was in charge of things. Transition was a concern .
  • How to evaluate? Create a baseline evaluation and rubric survey for all staff members. NASPA HAS DONE THIS FOR YOU!
  • Our survey: questions a user can self-rate; comfort levels; open questions; 50 questions in total including department identification.
  • Our VP helped to hype the survey, including how we planned to use the information to inform increased resources/training.
  • CampusLabs is the backbone of our survey.
  • 39.75% response rate; largely mid-ranged responses; additional areas of professional development needed
  • Wanted to figure out where our people were uncomfortable. It turned out that a lot of our people didn’t know where to turn for help.
  • You can use our assessment for your own campuses, and we encourage you to use it!
  • Next Steps: present findings to SA and Advancement directors; meet with professional dev committee for recommendations; assist in professional development; reassess one year from initial survey.
  • We’re right in the middle of this process…we hope to¬†see improvement next year!

You & Your Campus

  • This is very accessible, and the model we think is useful for any size campus
  • Join TKC
  • Self-assessment:Figuring out what you’re comfortable with is important
  • Training resources: YouTube, knowledge base, ticket database
  • Reach out and ask! People out there have had the exact same problem as you in the past.
  • What to do at the campus level? ¬†Join the TKC; create a committee (does not have to meet on a regular basis), talk to others; use the rubric/create an assessment; training resources; reach out and ask.
  • To get people to complete your assessment, tell them¬†what you’re doing and what they’re going to get out of it.
  • The main thing is to TRY SOMETHING! Now is the time to jump on this!


  • How were the survey results shared with your IT division? How were¬†they¬†received, and did¬†it result in changes in service/collaboration between divisions? Our IT department gets 250 tickets a day, they’ve been able to use our assessment to help streamline some processes and develop some training materials to help improve services.
  • Did you have others in your division who were interested in participating in the competency area? Yes, but we were able to use this assessment and model as a starting point.

Dr. Estela Bensimon – Making Race Talk Routine


Welcome message from Dr. William Watkins

  • This is the fifth annual Terry Piper lecture!
  • It’s our pleasure to host development and enrichment programs such as this, and it’s wonderful to see such a turnout.
  • Shout outs: ¬†Cheryl Spector, Shellie Hadvina, Ben Quillian, Frank Stranzl, Randy Reynaldo, Abraham (didn’t catch last name – sorry Abraham), Matt Perez, Meryl Simon, Shelley Ruelas-Bischoff, Michael Clemens
  • Purpose of this lecture series: ¬†gather faculty, staff, and administrators to acknowledge our work together and interconnected responsibilities for student learning and success.
  • Terry served as VP of Student Affairs at CSUN from 2001 – 2010.
  • Terry’s mission: ¬†to forge and amplify the work that we all do in support of student success: ¬†we ALL have a role in helping our students make it to the finish line.
  • Terry would want us to remember the amazing work of Dr. Jose Luis Vargas, who passed away late last month.

Forward by CSUN Provost Dr Yi Li

  • Though I did not know Terry, his legacy at CSUN is deep and it influences my work.
  • One outcome of Terry’s legacy are multiple collaborations between Academic Affairs and Student Affairs; this lecture series is just one example of that.
  • US Census Bureau: ¬†“majority minority” is a coming reality for the United States. ¬†By 2018, 45% of all jobs will require a higher education…so our work is incredibly important.
  • CSUN has already arrived at this point! ¬†It is important for us to lead the way for our sister campuses, and campuses across the nation.
  • Dr. Bensimon is a Distinguished Professor of Higher Education at the USC Rossier School of Education and Co-Director of the Center for Urban Education, which she founded in 1999.
  • Race, empathy and student success are the themes of Dr. Bensimon’s work. ¬†Recommendations based on¬†her work have been implemented at over 40 campuses across the country.
  • Dr. Bensimon spent a few moments thanking the folks who helped make this event happen.

It’s important for us to mobilize our power on behalf of others…we have so much more power than we realize: ¬†social networks, authority to make change in our institutions, and more.

Has much changed between 1964 and 2016? ¬†Sometimes it’s hard to see…

Why is Race Talk So Difficult?

  • We’re fearful we’ll say the wrong thing, we’re afraid of being called a racist.
  • Fear of conflict is an obstacle to discussing and addressing racial/ethnic inequity.
  • In higher education, we’re overly polite at times (collegiality)
  • Shared a comic to highlight disparities in the accumulation of generational differences
  • “The Diversity Agenda” makes it easier to NOT talk about race. ¬†The history of the word is tied to the 2003 Supreme Court decision about the University of Michigan (could race be used as one of the admissions criteria? ¬†Answer: ¬†yes).
  • Diversity Misunderstood and Misused: ¬†Chief Justice Roberts asks: ¬†“Why does diversity matter in a physics class?”

Details of Racial Inequality

  • Wealth gap is real.
  • Mortgages are the primary means of wealth for the middle class; mortgages are denied to black and latino families than whites.
  • Black and latino students are more likely to attend poorly funded school. ¬†On average, these students are shorted $733
  • Affluent schools have AP courses, which helps students with access to advance more quickly.
  • Grad rates at CSUN: ¬†4 year 14%, 6 year 48%, 8 year 55%
  • Aggregate data doesn’t tell the whole story! (Will need to see if the slides will be made available…I’ll post if I find it).
  • Detailed slide of CSUN’s Student and Faculty Representation by Race/Ethnicity, Fall 2014. ¬†Big takeaway: ¬†white students are the minority (26%), and white faculty are by far the majority (65%). ¬†However, this “is fairly typical and not something for us to feel too bad about.”

Language Used To Talk About Race

  • Avoid ambiguous term like At Risk, Non-Traditional, Minority, URM (Under Represented Minority)
  • The CSU does this a lot and I really think it shouldn’t. ¬†People don’t identify themselves like this, neither should we. ¬†I to personally agree with this in a big way
  • Caucasian, European, American; why are these terms not ok? ¬† A German Anatomist (Johann Friedrich Blumenbach) who was into racial classification identified these “races” as a measure of Christian perfection.

The Meaning of Equity

  • Diversity != Equity
  • The antidote to diversity, rooted in civil rights principles.
  • Redistribution of resources to provide for those with the greatest need
  • Financial aid is a form of equity.
  • Racism is created by structural inequality.

Structural Racism

  • Important to recognize and name it
  • Institutions are molded to certain values and certain people. ¬†They have historicity associated with them.
  • “Neutral” often masks structural racism
  • We need to be equity-minded to help be more systemically aware; need to focus and put the emphasis on the institution.
  • Understand inequity as a dysfunction of structures, policy, and practices
  • Question assumptions and take action to eliminate

Example:  Euniversity of Wisconsin Eau Claire

  • Honors program was 100% white
  • Criteria: ¬†ACT test scores
  • NOW: ¬†they use multiple entrance criteria

Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine

  • Faculty experience the institution differently
  • A series of slides highlighted the differences between perceptions of campus racial climate, depending on your own race
  • We typically think that “Student Commitment + Student Effort = Student Success”
  • Cultural practices may not exist in some schools and households
  • Inequitable outcomes != emerge from deficits in: ¬†motivation, direction , engagement, effort, discipline, study skills, time, commitment. ¬†NEED TO REFRAME THIS
  • We need to focus on what we can control within the institution. ¬†Require new: ¬†institutional structures, cultures, practices, routines
  • We need to look to the data to notice racial inequities. ¬†Go course by course, section by section! ¬†This is hard work, and sometimes there is fear by faculty that it may unearth uncomfortable facts.
  • Essential Equity Practice: ¬†Disaggregate > Report > Set Goals.
  • Report the state of equity by department. ¬†The numbers that result are manageable!

Can You Make Race Talk a Routine?

  • Yes / No?
  • What will it require?
  • Who will lead it?
  • What stands in the way?

Reactions / Q&A

  • Catherine Stevenson (director of dev math at CSUN): ¬†parallels between developmental education for students and for faculty are profound. ¬†Students can succeed if you can show them what they need to do and then provide “do-able actions.” ¬†How do you help institutions find those practical steps. ¬†Dr. Bensimon: ¬†we use data to inform actions; we train faculty on the protocols to use to help implement those changes. ¬†Example: ¬†work-study students may not have been trained to understand and identify student help-seeking as a cultural practice (some cultures do no encourage reaching out for help and view it as a personal failure). ¬†Another example: ¬†syllabi can be modified to help facilitate learning. ¬†This has been a powerful tool for faculty in reviewing and re-stating pedagogical philosophy.
  • Nicole Olson (graduate student): ¬†I think we can make race talk a routine, but it will require awareness of biases. ¬†Senior administration, departments, faculty and student working groups can help to address this. ¬†Dr. Bensimon: ¬†can you give an example when race was NOT discussed?
  • Catherine, Financial Aid: ¬†I think it can be done, I see it in my own department. ¬†You have to have the courage to talk about it! ¬†My director has done this without fear – we talked about the Mizzou situation, and was a safe space for us all to talk about things.
  • Dr. William Watkins: ¬†have we ever actually talked about race directly on this campus? ¬†Yes, particularly during CA proposition 209. ¬†Dr. Bensimon: ¬†sometimes laws are made to be broken ūüôā
  • Admissions & Records: ¬†we recently went into full impaction, and race often hasn’t come into play in the discussions we’ve had in A&R (personal note: ¬†this has been discussed extensively¬†among Student Affairs leadership…what this tells me is that we need to do more active outreach on our own campus!). ¬†Dr. Watkins: ¬†we’ve been so focused on the public, we haven’t provided enough education internally. ¬†We’re going to change that right away via internal focus groups.
  • SAP (Satisfactory Academic Progress) is often a barrier. ¬†Dr. Bensimon: ¬†we have a tool that analyzes the language used on university web sites…and number of clicks it takes to get to certain info.
  • Becky from Library: ¬†if white is preferable to “European,” does this apply to Middle Eastern students? ¬†How does that break down and is it useful when speaking about race? ¬†Dr. Bensimon: ¬†we don’t address that issue specifically, but we’re clear about the basis of research, which is that equity and status in this country have a basis¬†in slavery, racism and economic barriers. ¬†I don’t actually know how Middle Eastern students identify themselves.
  • Vanessa Bustamante: ¬†goals are important! ¬†My studies on gap analysis re: faculty hiring were not easy in Academic Affairs. ¬†When I moved to Student Affairs, my studies opened up dramatically. ¬†Dr. Bensimon: ¬†we’re doing work with CLU ¬†right now. ¬†Another audience member – didn’t catch her name: We cannot have real clear goals on hiring due to proposition 209.

Student Affairs and Social Media

Warning: ¬†I’m about to sound like a curmudgeon. ¬†I’ve held my tongue (so to speak) on this topic for several years now, but¬†Eric Stoller’s post today in Inside Higher Ed was the straw that broke the camel’s back. ¬†And to be clear, this has nothing to do with this specific¬†post, or with Eric¬†personally. ¬†I’ve never met Eric, and I find many of his posts thought-provoking and entertaining. ¬†I just had to put what I’ve been thinking about into words.

Maybe I need to broaden my online reading horizons, but whenever I see¬†posts about technology in¬†student affairs, nine times out of ten it’s¬†about social media. ¬†Social media and leadership. ¬†Social media and identity. ¬†Social media and the admissions process. ¬†Social media and emergency notification systems. ¬†Social media and campus climate. ¬†Social media and why you’re missing the boat¬†if you’re not on¬†the latest platform. ¬†Enough already! ¬†Without a doubt,¬†social media is important, and there are interesting ramifications for students with this new “permanent record” that we older folks haven’t come to grips with yet.

Many¬†rising stars in the student affairs profession¬†are brilliant¬†at using¬†social media as a platform for self-promotion. ¬†An irrepressibly upbeat attitude coupled with a¬†positive message goes a long way in this field. ¬†If you have an EdD, you’re probably also an unstoppable force of nature and you don’t give a damn what I think. ¬†Popularity contests don’t bother me. ¬†What bothers me is the¬†implicit connection being made that somehow social media IS technology.

That’s wrong, and it really grinds my gears. ¬†Mastery of social media is not the same thing as mastery of technology.

Legions of IT pros in student affairs support an incredibly diverse range of systems, services and infrastructure. ¬†Most of them work behind the scenes and don’t draw any attention to themselves. ¬†It just so happens that the¬†things they work on aren’t perceived as being as sexy as “SoMe.” ¬†But the¬†systems they manage are an integral part of what makes a university run.¬†¬†And if any of those systems¬†fail, boy howdy.

What makes social media interesting as a technology (at least to me) is that they’re¬†platforms designed from the ground up AS PLATFORMS. ¬†They’re easy to integrate with and can “talk to” virtually any system you can shake a stick at. ¬†But this isn’t what student affairs social media evangelists talk about. ¬†They instead use it as a fulcrum to leverage against current hot topics in the field.

I usually don’t complain without bringing some sort of solution to the table, but in this case I’m annoyed and need to vent a bit. ¬†Maybe the quiet techies¬†need to speak up more and participate in standards-making bodies. ¬†Maybe they should be¬†more active in (gasp) social media. ¬†The only thing I can say for sure is that I’d really like to see the student affairs social media evangelists slow their roll¬†a smidge.

Frankly, I doubt this post will resonate with anyone.  Hardly a surprise, given my massive double-digit readership.  Maybe I should take the hint and use social media more effectively << sighs >>

Student Engagement and Inclusive Campus Environments – From Magical Thinking to Strategy and Intentionality

Presenter:  Professor Shaun R. Harper, Ph.D, University of Pennsylvania

@DrShaunHarper | #CSUNmagic | works.bepress.com/sharper Terry Piper Lecture Series | Organizing Committee Members

This is the fourth annual event for the Terry Piper Lecture Series.  Previous speakers have included Dr. Laura Rendon, Dr. Vincent Tinto, and Dr. Marcia Baxter-Magolda.  I personally had the pleasure of reporting directly to Dr. Terry Piper when I started working at CSUN back in 2006.  I make sure to attend this event every year.

“Change is inevitable, progress is optional” – Dr. Terry Piper

Started faculty career at USC, and talked briefly about his relationship with Dr. Brandon Martin and Debra Hammond. ¬†Before becoming a faculty member, Shaun was involved with Student Affairs and credits Debra’s leadership as a major inspiration to him. ¬†While Shaun did not know Terry, ¬†he acknowledged his work (“I feel as if I knew him based on legacy”).

Student success requires a lot from a university – it doesn’t happen out of thin air.

Some Common Occurrences of Magical Thinking Assumptions

  • The assumption that powerful educational outcomes will be automatically manufactured through student-initiated engagement with peers who are different.
  • More racial diversity = increased sense of belonging for students of color
  • The curriculum will diversify itself
  • Students will engage themselves
  • All 40,000+¬†CSUN undergraduates will be learned persons who are prepared for a democratic society
  • Students will confront their own biases

Dr. Harper and his graduate students did a content study of mission statements of universities with enrollments over 20,000 students. They made some interesting promises, i.e. students will be prepared for a global economy, ready for a diverse and inclusive workforce, etc.  The reality is that cultural barriers put student groups on the fringe of the university experience.

Diversity is often reflected in the student body, but this is not sufficient. ¬†It needs to be reflected across the institution. ¬†However, we see cultural clustering that effectively perpetuates racial segregation. ¬†If students do not feel substantively engaged, they leave. ¬†This can produce “accidental” racists, sexists, and homophobes. ¬†Universities are often the most guilty institutions in perpetuating these attitudes. ¬†Overwhelmingly, these attitudes are from men.

Dr. Harper shared some learning from his work:

  • Deliberate strategies that bring principles of good educational practice to fruition on college and university campuses.
  • Individual and Collective Reflection: ¬†What am I doing to involve all students equitably? ¬†When was the last time I read about these principles and intentionally attempted to implement them.
  • Remediation. ¬†Deficits are not all the students’! ¬†It’s completely possible to become an educator without ever teaching students. ¬†We’re now four year into a study, the race and student affairs project. ¬†What have we learned? ¬†People learned in their student dev theory course about a racial identity model from the early 1970s! ¬†It doesn’t teach how to deal with racial inequity issues.
  • Literacy. ¬†You must read to keep up with developments within the field. ¬†I often have people come up to me and tell me that they can’t read because they don’t have the time to. ¬†This is not intentionality!
  • Collaboration with students
  • Cross-sectional partnerships
  • An actionable written document. ¬†So many campuses do not have this.
  • Assessment. ¬†How do you measure success?

Intentionality Examples

  • The professor who does not wait for the one Native American student in his class to approach him about research opportunities, but instead invites her to have a conversation about how their mutual interests might be collaboratively pursued via a research project.
  • ¬†The academic advisor who asks commuter and part-time students how they would prefer to receive information about engagement opportunities, then communicates this information in a systematic way to the campus activities office and later checks the database to ensure her advisees are receiving info in ways they requested.
  • ¬†The office or department leader that predetermines with colleagues who will attend which sessions at a conference, insists everyone takes copious notes, provides time during the next staff meeting to recap and collectively determine adaptability of ideas from sessions, and then signs reimbursements.

Real-World Examples from the Study

The Lumina Foundation provided a grant to work with 5 institutions to do something about enhancing and improving Black Male success –¬†Institutional Change for Black Male Student Success Project. ¬†Those campuses were: ¬†UCLA, Stanford, University of Wisconsin, Community Colleges of Philadelphia, North Carolina Central University. ¬†Teams from each university had to include: ¬†two tenured faculty, at least one cabinet member, at least two students (black undergraduate men). ¬†These teams created the ingredients/artifacts of the intentionality and strategies mentioned above, and then took them back to their home campuses.

At UCLA, their opportunity was to address the low first-to-second year black male retention rates, plus campus size and experiences with racial stereotypes. ¬†The team included tenured faculty, senior admins from academic affairs and student affairs, grad students, staff from various student support services across campus, and black students. ¬†Key components: ¬†bringing resources to black male students (“blacklimated”). ¬†Increased social and cultural capital via “deans day” where students could sit with their deans (deans actually gave out cell phone numbers). ¬†Stereotype threat strategizing: ¬†role of grad students was that they shared their experiences for effectively responding to issues (i.e. microagressions). ¬†Introducing black male students to their first/only black male professor. ¬†Result: ¬†across 3 cohorts of 77 students, all but one returned to UCLA for a sophomore year.

North Carolina Central University opportunity: ¬†black male six year graduation rate was 27 percent. ¬†Disaggregated data showed that honors students that received additional support were most successful, and black male students who received 2.7 GPA in high school were least likely to persist. ¬†VPSA, tenured faculty members, black undergraduates. ¬†Key Components: ¬†strategic “scholar” languaging (call them “Centennial Scholars”). ¬†Apply what works for honors students to the Centennial Scholars. ¬†Residential learning community with centralized support, RAs, and resources just for them (also moved into super-shiny residence halls like the honors students). ¬†Result: ¬†across 3 cohorts of 90 undergraduates, only two students left before completing their bachelor’s degrees.

Each institution received only $20,000 to accomplish these results!

Post Script: ¬†Black Male initiatives are in vogue right now, and this I think is dangerously close to a form of “magical thinking.”




How a simple web service saved 1,500+ hours of student time

It may only be February, but graduation is already on the minds of many of us in higher education. ¬†It’s an exciting time for our graduating seniors, and a lot of work for us in Student Affairs who do the “behind the scenes” work to make these events run smoothly.

At CSUN, we have an annual event in March called “GradFest” that supports Commencement. ¬†GradFest is an event where students who have applied to graduate can learn everything they need to know about graduation, visit with vendors to purchase a cap and gown, class ring, and so on. ¬†The annual CSUN graduate population is made up of thousands of students, so as you might imagine, this is a large event to plan from a logistical standpoint.

A big part of GradFest is to check that students have indeed applied to graduate – that is, they are “on the list.” ¬†Prior to 2013, this was accomplished by students waiting in a line, where they were manually matched by staff in our Office of Student Involvement and Development to a long list of students who had a) met the criteria to walk¬†and b) applied to graduate. ¬†If students were on that list, they were checked off and sent to a second set of lines where they could purchase their regalia (more on that in a moment). ¬†At this point, you may be asking yourself “why does that first line exist to begin with?” ¬†Great question. ¬†In the distant past (10+ years ago), we had situations where students who had not applied to graduate and were not in fact eligible to walk, purchasing regalia and walking. ¬†Implementing this simple cross-check virtually eliminated the case of the “phantom graduate.” ¬†The downside is that this check was done manually with a paper list, and that takes time.

Many of you who are front-line with students probably already see the other issue. ¬†At any event hosting thousands of students, you’re bound to have some standing in line who – for whatever reason – should not be there because they haven’t done what they were supposed to do. ¬†After waiting in line for as much as an hour, these students find out that they aren’t on the list and need to visit the registrar to sort things out. ¬†They’re not able to move forward and order the most visible artifacts of a graduate, so at this point they’re likely to be upset.

As a web technologist, I saw this situation and thought of ways that we could use web services to simplify event logistics. ¬†One of our big GradFest vendors brings in over fifty of their own computers that are connected to the Internet, so students can easily browse their online store and buy or reserve their regalia. ¬†I thought: ¬†“What if my team could build a simple web app that calls a web service whose sole purpose is to say whether or not a student is on the list?” ¬†If we could do that, then all we’d have to do is present this web page on a browser of the vendor’s computers. ¬†This would not only completely eliminate a line, we’d also free up many hours of professional staff time. ¬†An added side-benefit is that those students who were not on the list would not be quite as upset when told they needed to visit the registrar. ¬†A five-minute wait beats an hour-long wait hands down!

To make this happen, my team had to do four things:

  1. Add to our data warehouse the list of students who had successfully met the criteria to graduate and had successfully applied to participate in their graduation ceremony.
  2. Build a web service that a) verifies a student is in the warehouse, and b) returns a simple “thumbs-up/thumbs-down” value.
  3. Build a bare-bones web app that authenticates a student using their CSUN user id and password. ¬†After authenticating the user, the app invokes the web service and presents¬†appropriate messaging to the student, i.e. “Congratulations…” or “We’re sorry, but…”
  4. Document the process.

Some of you may be asking yourselves: ¬†“Hey Paul, web services have been in general use for over a decade in the larger world. ¬†What’s so special about your implementation? ¬†It sounds super simple.” ¬†And you’d be right to ask that question. ¬†What makes our implementation so special is that waaaay back in 2013, this was the very first production implementation of a web service at CSUN that I’m aware of…and it took us less than two weeks to build!¬† Once we implemented this simple proof of concept, the vast potential that web services and APIs enable became very real for us. ¬†By making clearly defined data available to applications, we opened up some pretty amazing possibilities.

Ok, so what were the specific successes and issues we experienced?

The successes were dramatic and obvious:

  1. Eliminated a line, saving students 1,500+ hours of time standing in line
  2. Saved professional staff 50+ hours of time manning the line, freeing them up to provide high-touch event services for those students who really needed them
  3. Built a practical proof-of-concept that worked exactly as expected and demonstrated the power of web services
  4. Added a table to our data warehouse containing an always up-to-date list of students who can participate in graduation ceremonies.
  5. Created excitement among our developers around web services and APIs

The issues and challenges we experienced are real, but tend towards the philosophical. ¬†For many processes and services on this campus – and I suspect any campus – simply putting your information into a database is a big step forward. ¬†Add a web interface, and you’re talking rocket science! ¬†Ok, I’ll cop to a little hyperbolic license there, but it is fair to say that some people who benefit from a database-powered application tend to get, shall we say, protective of their data. ¬†This human issue almost inevitably leads to data balkanization, more often referred to as silos. ¬†Another issue when implementing web services is that higher ed administrators and even some IT folks are used to thinking about applications in the traditional sense, and don’t give much – if any – time to thinking “a layer above” their application. There are almost always ways in which data and applications can be made useful beyond their original intended purpose. ¬†I believe that strategically thinking about how we make connections between our data and services is the future of technology in Student Affairs. ¬†In short,¬†Student Affairs is a platform. ¬†More on that in another post…

In a few weeks, I look forward to seeing CSUN students use our little app at GradFest. ¬†In a few months, when I attend graduation and hear pomp and circumstance, I’ll know that I and my team had some small hand in making this process just a little bit easier for our students and the staff who support their success.

Good luck to everyone in this 2014 graduation season!