The ripple effects from COVID-19 are causing delays in some of the major systemwide initiatives that have been underway for several months at CU, including the strategic plan, technology enablement project and online learning initiative.
In communications on Wednesday to the teams working on those efforts and to shared governance groups, CU President Mark Kennedy and Board of Regents Chairman Glen Gallegos wrote that while the projects will be delayed, the need for them is amplified by the current crisis.
“One necessary outcome of our all-hands-on-deck response is that we must pause action on other priorities, including the tech enablement and online projects (and the related strategic planning process),” Kennedy and Gallegos wrote. “Still, the current environment highlights the urgency for more robust IT functionality and a coherent plan for our online efforts. Despite their mission-critical importance, we are taking a short break on the initiatives to allow everyone to focus attention on COVID-19 issues. We are also slowing down the strategic planning process, which overlaps with IT and online.”
The strategic planning process began last summer and a draft plan was scheduled to go to the Board of Regents at its July retreat. That has now been pushed to September to give teams working on the project more time, given the demands required by the COVID response.
The technology enablement project, which started in the fall, aims to assess CU’s major technology platforms and make recommendations for optimizing performance and personnel. The university has partnered with Deloitte on the assessment. It will have a slight delay, as will the online learning strategy project, which looks to optimize CU’s systemwide online offerings. The university is partnering with EY-Parthenon on the initiative.
The president is engaging the campus chancellors and project leaders about revised timelines for technology enablement and online. Kennedy and Gallegos noted that “considerable and valuable” work has been accomplished on each of the three initiatives, and that their interconnected nature means it is incumbent upon CU to continue momentum.
To do so, the communique noted that in mid-April, Harper Johnson, assistant vice chancellor of information technology and CIO at UCCS, will begin serving as associate vice president for transformation and innovation for the system to coordinate efforts at IT transformation. He will continue to provide strategic leadership support to UCCS in a reduced role. Johnson also will temporarily take the lead on advancing conversations on a more coordinated approach to online until the university hires someone to lead coordinated online activities.
The communication also noted conversations between the president and chancellors regarding providing additional support to faculty who have had to quickly prepare their courses for remote delivery, as well as for staff who are working remotely. The support may be necessary if the disruption continues into the fall.
Kennedy and Gallegos also noted that while CU has to address the crisis at hand, it must also keep an eye on the long term and the exigencies that come with such a crisis.
“Soon our mission and attention must expand to the short- and long-term future of the university and how we successful navigate the disruption caused by COVID-19.”