The role of the CIO — also known as the chief information officer — is still new enough that it hasn’t quite taken shape at many colleges. The position represents the highest-ranking technology official at a school, but it requires more than tech savvy. The best CIOs can work in the trenches of IT, think about big-picture strategy and work with a budget. The knowledge from each of these perspectives is key to pushing a university forward.
In “A Framework for the CIO Position,” Brian L. Hawkins outlines the qualifications of a higher education CIO:
The CIO (Chief Information Officer) is a relatively new concept in higher education. There have been directors of college and university computer centers for over half a century, but the first CIOs did not appear until the late 1970s. The need for the position in academia really began with the need to manage and coordinate computing and information technology services with the dramatic influx of microcomputers and networks in the early-to-mid 1980s. Today, the concept of a CIO still lacks definition: it has a variety of meanings, manners of being defined and operationalized, and methods for integration within the campus infrastructure, accompanied by an equally diverse set of realistic and unrealistic expectations.
When hiring a new CIO or a first CIO, school administrators should carefully review not only technical skills but also communication skills, because the position requires collaboration and cooperation with many other departments. Jerry Bishop, author of The Higher Ed CIO, suggests three interview questions that can reveal the most relevant information about a candidate:
Can you do the job?
Will you love the job?
Can we tolerate working with you?
What qualities do you see in the best CIOs?
EDUCAUSE and The Higher Ed CIO made the The Dean's List: 50 Must-Read Higher Education IT Blogs.