The Need for Digital a Digital Transformation of College Campuses

By Bill Young, CISO, Butler Community College

Bill Young, CISO, Butler Community College

In an attempt to avoid being too clichéd, I did not want to start this article off with one of those “when I was a kid” stories. Unfortunately, that is the only real way to bring this conversation into perspective, so here we go. Twenty some years ago, I visited college campuses in order to try to determine which one was the best fit for me. My questions and concerns revolved around class size, course availability and cost, just to name a few. I fully understood that there would be some technology available at the institution, but technology was very low on my priority list.

Incoming students today often times have a very different approach in their selection criteria. Recently, I watched a family arrive on campus for a visit and tour. Both parents had college literature and catalogs in their hands and the prospective student appeared ready to tackle the day. As they began walking around campus, and as they entered each building, the student checked something on their phone. My first thought was that they were focusing on social media rather than on the visit. As I paid closer attention, I realized that they were gauging the signal strength and availability of connectivity everywhere on campus.

"College campuses across the country are behind the times and must find innovative and cost effective ways to increase access for these students"

This example is just one of the drivers for the digital transformation at Butler Community College. Our institution has embarked on a journey that will culminate in a fully connected campus. As we move down the path of this digital transformation, the need for data integrity, data security, identity and access management, as well as enhanced collaboration tools becomes even more important. In order to improve and enhance the student experience, Butler Community College is implementing innovative infrastructure and client service models that will ensure student success.

The streamlining of the connected infrastructure is not without risk. Increased access always equates to increased exposure. Butler has mitigated these risks with the consolidation of all members of infrastructure services into one team. Our infrastructure services team includes server administration, network administration, identity management, unified communication and collaboration and information security. This consolidation builds in efficiencies in communication and planning that allows infrastructure services to be delivered in a purposeful manner rather than in disjointed segments.

The college generation today is, by far, the most digitally connected that has ever entered the doors of our institutions. These students have high expectations as they begin college and, make no mistake, they will have even higher expectations as they enter the workforce. College campuses across the country are behind the times and must find innovative and cost effective ways to increase access for these students. Institutions of higher education must take advantage of this opportunity to capitalize on this highly connected generation and move forward with a full digital transformation of their college campuses.