Do We Need the Provost to Lead Digital Transformation?

Concurrent Session 9
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Brief Abstract

At the conclusion of the successful ACAO Digital Fellows Project in June 2019, we reviewed the findings of a project that included 32 chief academic Officers, 84 courses, 103 faculty members and 7,500 students across the country.  The 32 of us who are Provosts and Chief Academic Officers launched campus projects that were completed using adaptive digital courseware in piloted courses on their campuses.  Most of the Digital Fellows experiences anywhere from modest to significant success with their pilot projects as measured by course retention, reduced DWFI rates, and other metrics.  But did the provost need to lead the project, or could someone else have stepped in? This article seeks to identify the advantages of having the Provost lead digital transformation on their campuses. 

Presenters

/Users/lniesen/Documents/Short Biography Laura Niesen de Abruna.docx Laura Niesen de Abruna Laura de Abruna is the PI on the 2017-2018 “Provosts, Pedagogy, and Digital Learning” grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She is Past President and current board member of the Association of Chief Academic Officers (ACAO) and current board member of the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) CAO Task Force. She is also Provost, Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Professor of English at York College of Pennsylvania. Her major interests are in global initiatives, digital learning, service learning, institutional assessment, and the development of general education curricula. She is particularly interested in the role of innovative high impact practices in increasing the quality of undergraduate learning. Dr. Niesen de Abruna graduated from Smith College with a major in English and a minor in French, having spent a year at the University of Paris. She received the M.A. and the Ph.D. in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a M. S. Ed. in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania. She has published extensively on such topics as Mark Twain, T. S. Eliot, digital learning, Caribbean literature, the role of the public intellectual, and the role of the dean and provost in higher education. Her background in higher education administration is extensive, having served as the Dean of the School of Arts, Communication and Education at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania and as the Vice President for Academic Affairs at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island and Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut. She has received numerous awards, including two Fulbright Fellowships in Belgium and Luxembourg, as well as ACLS, NEH and ACE fellowships. She served as an ACE Fellow as Special Assistant for Strategic Planning at SUNY-Oswego directly before leaving the faculty for various roles in administration. As a faculty member, she served at Ithaca College, where she had spent 15 years as an Assistant, Associate and Full Professor of English Literature.
Dr. Connie Johnson is Colorado Technical University's (CTU) chief academic officer and provost, working with both online and ground degree programs. She has oversight of academic affairs, including faculty, curriculum, classroom experience, and accreditation. During her time at CTU, Connie has initiated adaptive learning technology implementation, effective leadership of academics, women's leadership, leading academics through change, and effective technology implementation in the online classroom including the promotion of academics, faculty and student engagement through social media. Connie has served in higher education for over 20 years with extensive experience in online and ground teaching, administration, and leadership. Additionally, Connie has extensive experience in regional accreditation, curriculum implementation, and faculty training and development. She is a trained peer evaluator for the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), has completed and served as a facilitator in the ACE Chief Academic Officer Institute, and is a member of the CTU Board of Trustees. Her educational background includes a Doctorate of Education, organizational leadership emphasis (2010), and a Master of Business Administration in management (1991) from Nova Southeastern University; and a Bachelor of Science with honors in criminal justice from Florida State University.

Extended Abstract

At the conclusion of the successful ACAO Digital Fellows Project in June 2019, we reviewed the findings of a project that included 32 chief academic Officers, 84 courses, 103 faculty members and 7,500 students across the country.  The 32 of us who are Provosts and Chief Academic Officers launched campus projects that were completed using adaptive digital courseware in piloted courses on their campuses.  Most of the Digital Fellows experiences anywhere from modest to significant success with their pilot projects as measured by course retention, reduced DWFI rates, and other metrics.  But did the provost need to lead the project, or could someone else have stepped in? This article seeks to identify the advantages of having the Provost lead digital transformation on their campuses. 

Here is what we found:

  • Faculty engagement with digital learning is key, and they are more willing to follow the lead of the CAO than his/her direct reports or the CIO and his/her direct reports.
  • CAOs use transformational change management to create change if they view digital learning as one of their strategic priorities and get these priorities into the university wide budget.
  • CIOs become more engaged in the educational mission of the institution when partnering with the CAOs.
  • Partnerships develop between the CIOs and the CAOs when the CAO leads this process.
  • Whether or not the initial pilot program scales depends on the leadership of the CAO in the change management process.
  • Data from the projects needs to be analyzed by the Chief Academic Officer and Institutional Research.
  • Leadership from the Provost’s Office gets the attention of the President.  Initiatives and funding are provided, which would not have happened without the intervention of the CAO.
  • Most importantly, the ACAO project identified the importance of bringing digital learning to the attention of the CAO when that person may not have been aware of its potential.