RICHARD N. KATZ is the Vice President of EDUCAUSE. At EDUCAUSE, Katz is responsible for developing and delivering the association's educational program through a variety of international conferences, workshops,seminars and management institutes, as well as for member and corporate relations, research and development, and outreach. Prior to joining the association in 1996, Katz held a variety of management and executive positions spanning 14 years at the University of California (UC). As Executive Director of Business Planning and Practices, he was responsible for the design and implementation of many of the nine-campus UC system's strategic management initiatives. At UC, Katz was awarded the Gurevich Prize, the Olsten Award, and was the 2nd recipient of that university's Award for Innovative Management and Leadership. Katz is the author, co-author oreditor of more than 20 books, monographs and articles on a variety of management and technology topics. He received his B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh, and his MBA from UCLA.
Since 1993, Ruth Sabean has been the Assistant Director for Educational Technology at the Office of Instructional Development at UCLA, following 10 prior years of directing and managing academic computing services at Cornell University and UCLA. Sabean presents frequently at conferences, including I-TECH 97 and CAUSE-98 workshops. She is currently the Chair of the Coordinating Board of the Seminars on Academic Computing and is a member of the EDUCAUSE Professional Development Committee. Sabean is currently the Faculty/Staff Development Section Editor for Technology Source
Ruth Sabean [RS]: The CAUSE organization had a national reputation for
providing excellent professional development for IT professionals. Will this emphasis on
professional development be maintained by EDUCAUSE and, if so, what do you envision?
Richard Katz [RK]: Absolutely.
In an August 1999 planning retreat of the EDUCAUSE Board of Directors, professional
development was identified as one of the Association's highest priorities. Building
on this statement of priorities, the EDUCAUSE Board approved a Program Plan which again
states the priority that EDUCAUSE will place on professional development. The
EDUCAUSE professional development vision is bold: EDUCAUSE will be the educational
provider of first choice among campus professionals and leaders who are responsible for
managing information technology in higher education. Our offerings will be viewed as
indispensable elements of our members' professional development and will be timely,
relevant, and accessible. The logistical element of our programs will be known for
their quality and attention to detail and participant service. Finally, we will
demonstrate new learning principles by incorporating educational technologies in
appropriate and cost-effective manners.
RS: What are the primary concerns and goals for faculty and staff professional development which EDUCAUSE is hearing expressed by its member institutions?
RK: EDUCAUSE is working hard to develop and refine our programs based on a combination of formal and informal feedback from our members. In October and December, we convened focus groups at both Educom 98 and CAUSE98 to elicit feedback from our member institutions and corporations. In general (thankfully!), we have heard that we are "on the right track." We have also heard concerns about merging the Annual Conference programs. EDUCAUSE members whose responsibilities revolve around administrative IT issues want us to remain committed to issues in this arena. Similarly, colleagues whose dominant professional concerns revolve around academic, library or related IT concerns, want to be sure that we remain focused on their educational needs. The advanced technology constituency wants to be certain to find timely information on advanced networking and high performance computing ... and so forth. The challenge for us is to provide educational support to an increasingly diverse constituency. Notwithstanding our eagerness to welcome "convergence" and "synergy", EDUCAUSE must remain mindful of the diversity of educational needs and perspectives of our membership. We must address these disparate needs while retaining a fanaticism about quality.
More recently, we have sent a survey to thousands of our members. We hope to use the results of this survey to suggest directions in which to grow the EDUCAUSE professional development program. One key area of growth will be the delivery of EDUCAUSE offerings in more technologically-intensive and diverse fashions. Given our overall mission of transformation, we have a special obligation to evaluate and deploy new learning technologies. The burden on us is to experiment aggressively, learn from our members, and share our experiences.
Another concern we have heard clearly is the need for EDUCAUSE to provide support for those institutions that do not have the resources to assume positions of technological leadership. These can be institutions that serve historically-underrepresented students, community colleges and others. Service to member institutions in need is a high priority of the EDUCAUSE Board of Directors and its staff leadership. To this end, our Net@EDU and NLII programs have seen their missions augmented to facilitate a transfer of knowledge between leading edge initiatives and professional development for institutions who aspire to the leading edge. We are working closely with the National Association for Equal Opportunity (NAFEO), the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC), the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), and others to make our programs more broadly accessible to these constituencies.
Finally, we have heard clearly that no organization is doing a great job of engaging the interest of our younger colleagues in the profession. We are actively engaged in trying to assess the professional development interests of young IT professionals in higher education and will seek actively to develop programs that accommodate the different learning styles and preferences that these people may have. We are working also on programs that will help identify and develop the future leaders of our profession. These leaders, we think, will be drawn from a more disparate professional crucible and will need to integrate and celebrate the diverse skills, cultures, and perspectives of IT professions, library professions, and others.
RS: As you analyze these needs, what criteria do you anticipate EDUCAUSE will use to determine which areas of development to provide?
RK: The first criterion is to determine whether or not EDUCAUSE is uniquely qualified and positioned to deliver education in a given area. Many organizations, including our member institutions, offer professional education. In many ways, the market for such education is crowded. If we cannot offer educational experiences that are uniquely relevant and of distinctive (and recognizable) quality, we should not venture forth.
Related to this is the notion that we should not act alone. The EDUCAUSE educational program has grown - and will continue to grow - through a strategy of partnering. Today, we have a variety of relationships with others, including CUMREC, Nercomp, SAC, NACUBO, AACC, and CIC. This is a critical strategy. Again, the central question for us relates to quality and quality depends, in my judgment, on proximity to the customer. By associating with a number of partners, we are enhancing our ability to remain relevant. The educational program of EDUCAUSE is truly member driven and by working with our member committees and our partners we aim to really understand what our members' needs are. In addition, EDUCAUSE will need to be able to develop a tapestry of relationships with content experts. In all cases, our mission is to deliver educational excellence in our professional development programs and products. This does not mean that we need to, or even can, deliver such excellence alone. What we can to is: (1) identify the best of breed in needed program areas, (2) negotiate favorable pricing and access for our members; and (3) integrate such offerings into educational frameworks that make sense to our members. In this vein, we are working with the New Media Center, the Association for Research Libraries,
the Council for Library and Information Resources, and others.
RS: How does EDUCAUSE envision collaborating with both corporations and higher education institutions which offer professional development programs?
RK: We don't yet have an explicit strategy for working with higher education institutions in their educational delivery roles. Of course, these institutions are our members, and as such, drive our educational agenda. If by this question do you mean, "will EDUCAUSE partner with UCLA to deliver program X" the answer today is that we have no such plans on the books. Will such relationships emerge in the future? Probably.
The same answer is true with our corporate partners. Corporations play a pivotal role in the professional development mission of EDUCAUSE. Corporate exhibitions, sponsorships, and partnerships add to the programmatic richness of EDUCAUSE conferences and allow us to establish prices that are accessible to most. Further, corporate dues and sponsorships make it possible to offer the Jane N. Ryland Fellowships, which make our professional development programs accessible to professionals at economically disadvantaged institutions. Finally, it is important to recognize that publications are also an integral part of what EDUCAUSE considers to be professional development. Corporations underwrite much of the cost of producing the books and monographs that educate thousands of EDUCAUSE members.
Corporate collaborations will become increasingly diverse and complex over time as new, technology-enriched learning paradigms become available. We will work with member corporations to deliver elements of our program in ways that simultaneously achieve our members' educational objectives AND showcase emerging technologies.
We are also developing interesting plans to deliver an intensive educational offering that is oriented to corporate professionals and leaders. High turnover in corporate positions, combined with the intrinsic complexity of higher education suggest the need for someone to educate corporations about the idiosyncrasies of serving higher education markets. Our institutional members report a lot of frustration related to the need to constantly educate corporate sales professionals about higher education and our corporate members have expressed a keen interest in our developing intensive programs for their staff. A program designed to enhance corporations' understanding of higher education practices would likely benefit all of our members.
RS: What are the measures of success EDUCAUSE and its membership can use as indicators to create new professional development services and refine existing ones?
RK: I believe that the market is the greatest mechanism for delivering feedback in this area of activity. Stated simply, people vote with their feet. Our success, in part, will be measured by the attendance at our educational events, by purchases of our books and monographs, and by formal evaluations that we will deploy at every EDUCAUSE event. We will use the results of our current professional development and readership surveys to establish baselines and we will measure member satisfaction regularly over time. We will also evaluate our programmatic and financial performance and prices against our peer associations serving higher education. Remember that our vision is nothing less than becoming the provider of first choice within our educational niche. This is an ambitious vision. We also have a dedicated and active Professional Development Committee and Board of Directors which oversee the quality and directions of this program. Their evaluation of the program forms another facet of the overall program evaluation process at EDUCAUSE.
There is also a less tangible success attribute that is harder to measure. I call this the "WOW" factor. I want EDUCAUSE professional development programs and offerings to stun, provoke, and delight people. We're all too busy for less.
RS: Do you have anything else you'd like to convey to our readers?
RK: I'd just like thank you for your interest in the EDUCAUSE professional development program. It's an unbelievable honor to serve in this role and we all delight in the opportunity to take this program to the next level of excellence.
Interview looks fine. A bit general at times, but fine. Go with it.
AAThis is a very timely article. There seems to be a good bit of speculation among members of the academic community about the implications of the EDUCOM/CAUSE merger. While David Noble's writings have generally been perceived as alarmist and exaggerated, there is still concern being expressed that the merger lends credence to the thought that higher education is being turned into big business.
The interview is well written, direct, and concise. If the author has any additional material that reinforces EDUCOM's commitment to quality higher education, and its commitment to support for faculty, it might be well to include it.
Sabean's interview of Richard Katz is timely and well done. Many IT professionals are watching the merger of Educom and CAUSE for signals about the nature of the new organizations, EDUCAUSE. The interview reveals EDUCAUSE's commitment to professional development