Leading Your Campus in a (post-) Pandemic World

Apr 1, 2021

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University Coronavirus - Salesforce Solutions

I feel fortunate to be able to listen into the webinar tonight “Leading Your Campus in Times of Crisis” on behalf of our client universities and schools franchises. The purpose of this webinar was to share the insights and learning of selected thought-leaders in higher education in this time of impromptu shifts to online education delivery and management.

(Details of panelists and organisers at end of article.)

Some of my Take-Aways for universities, colleges and schools – with

TAKE AWAY 1: My overall takeaway was that universities and colleges are not ‘in crisis’ but ‘in ultra-rapid transformation’ — adopting new technology and inventing new ways of working in record speed of time. It was a really empowering discussion of active, thoughtful, caring and really committed change masters, getting it right for their students.

TAKE AWAY 2: Technology-wise, Salesforce, Zoom, Microsoft Team and the university’s website were mentioned as the most helpful technologies throughout this webinar. Other technologies mentioned were Facebook, Instagram, and Slack.

Panel Discussion on Digital Change and Crisis

My Notes from the Webinar

Panel of Leading University Experts

Today is the current ‘New Normal’,
anticipating that there may well be
a next ‘new normal’.

University Leaders –

Karen Ferguson (Indiana University): this day 3 of virtual learning for our university. We have 90K students + faculty + staff. So that’s a lot of online communication. We are teaching and advising students online and will continue to do this during summer. Her team is in wk 3. In first 2 weeks was fun. But this third week is more or a challenge. “Prioritising, re-prioritising and communicating. That’s we are doing.”

Matthew Etchison (Ivy Tech CC) pointed out how large the organisation of all was: 40 different campuses. 160K students. Now running 4K advisory meetings/day.

How to manage this?

Play books or everything net-new? Both. Universities are holding daily staff meetings via Zoom to keep operations going. That seems to be successful for everyone.

Also for everyone was an incredibly fast response by IT and faculty to start teaching online. And that’s working. Students are doing quite well to use the online systems in place.

In fact, universities are now to reflect on their prior assumptions: “For a long time, the campus was saying people can not work from home. And we are showing now that people are very productive working from home.”

Rebecca (Cornell University): “new normal was an interesting development.” Now our advisors are offering information digitally for students to self-serve. And are setting the student meetings up online. “We have integration of an appointment setting and meeting setup in Zoom that feeds into Salesforce. Adds to the calendar, etc. Works quite well.”

Karen: Mentally and emotionally engaging our teams is vital to be able to mentally and emotionally engage our students. People are feeling the ‘wear and tear’: actively parenting young children, while working full speed on realising a new world at work. She sends out a daily email w how she is feeling that day (which seems to be very well appreciated by her team – a humanising email they can count on), daily team meeting, frequent team cocktail users. Her large team of 150 are big Slack users. She also remind us that we need to give everybody grace, and not expect perfection.

Karen identified 3 phases. Phase 1: the incredible crisis management of the first few weeks. Deciding what are we shutting down. Deciding is our tone in our communication?

Phase 2: Now we have moved into “what do our students need to function and be successful”. How can we help them best? “We relaunched our website in 2 weeks (was a 10 months plan before). We monitor search terms real time, and we find more ways to make it easier.” E.g. Zoom was the key search term, so we popped a link on the home page.

Phase 3: Next will be scenario planning: what will the next few months or year for the university look like. E.g. Karen: planning for next September: we are giving Students extra time, have extended also the deposit deadlines, also as their financial aid needs may change for Fall. We have gone online for the summer. So, besides attending to what students need now, we have started thinking through a summer strategy.

Matt pointed out that there is inequity of internet access and laptops across students. So, they focused on realising hardware, software, and internet access for students. They shipped hotspots out and the IT department issued a record 700 laptops in 2 business days.

Rebecca shared that for her organisation the priority was remote advising. “We had the tools in place, but we hadn’t rolled them out to everyone just yet.” Now we have done that across the 13 colleges. They are now doing remote faculty reports via cases with Salesforce.

Amjad Ayoubi ( Tulane University) shared “We talked about teaching online for 20 years, but now we had to actually realise it quickly.” The big job here is engaging faculty. At his college they put an interesting concept of Reverse Mentorship in place. “We put together a squat of students to help faculty with all the technology. There is a big need for this across faculty. We pay all student workers. This builds engagement, but also embraces real student input and understanding.

Karen: communication with key stakeholders uses many different channels. Once we determined the tone and the approach, we met with the Sr Leadership every day, and then each of our leaders met with their communities. There are no bureaucratic silos right now. Things get done faster, and there is grace for mistakes. “I feel our true mission is at its best right now, and to my team, this is really motivating.”

How Sr. leadership communicates:

Rebecca shared that it feels like there is a trickle down of meetings: Top, VPs, team leads. Very coordinated. We have great leaders. Everyone strives for clarity. Nothing is vague. It feels like the right tone.

Karen: chimes in: we have done the same, but top management has also been addressing staff and others directly. E.g. The Exec do a FB Live (through Zoom) — which makes this 2-way communication. We meet the students on Insta-stories and the parents on Facebooks. Plus we have 360 tours. This will accelerate developments: as this is really how we should be communicating.

Matt: Sr. Leadership: daily standup via Zoom. They also use Teams. “You cannot replace face to face, but it works pretty well.”

Processes not working online

Rebecca: Research is a hard. This situation can put people way off on their research delivery timelines.

Take Aways / Best Practices

Amjad: the one skill that has shows to be key is agility. It has been the critical factor for us.

Matt: Agility, the ability to attend to others, and to innovate.

Rebecca: we have to really lean in. E.g. Kids won’t have jobs this summer. So we have to determine what programs can be build for them that are resume builders? We have been here before. At 911, and other situations. We are in a much better equipped than we ever were.

Karen: we need to lead from the human perspective. This is time to lead more, manage less, and support the emotional needs of staff. We have no idea what it is like for them to work in the way we ask them to. We don’t fully not understand it all yet. They are talented. they are committed and will do the best they can.

It was a really great panel discussion. I am not sure if the webinar was recorded and where it will be available. In the meanwhile, I hope this is helpful.

Panel Members

Amjad Ayoubi, Senior Associate Dean, Tulane University. He oversees Academic+Career Advising and Services. Amjad’s main innovation interest is to enhance the college student experience and success through CRM solutions and integration. Amjad also is vice chair for the Higher Education Advisory Board for

Matt Etchison, CIO at Ivy Tech Community College (largest singly accredited community college in the US). Matt leads a team of nearly 200 IT professionals. He’s an industry Thought Leader, committed to changing the way IT education is delivered. Matt is the architect of the Salesforce Pathfinder program and is a member of the Salesforce Higher Ed CIO Innovation Council.

Rebecca Joffrey, IT Innovation Officer at Cornell University, leading the Student Experience Initiative. Her driving vision for student success at Cornell (and before at Dartmouth) is to modernise the technology infrastructure and to put the institution’s resources behind the goals of students. Rebecca is a thought leader in the use of CRM to scale service, design constituent experiences, and enable data-driven decision making.

Karen Ferguson Fuson. Chief Marketing Officer, Indiana University.

Hosted by Education Cloud team

  • Jason Belland, VP Industry Solutions
  • Lee Perlis, Senior Director of Product Marketing

Sources: Salesforce reports on Education & Covid-19

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