As RFPs conclude, future of technology and online education at CU begins to take shape

Contracts awarded to Deloitte, EY-Parthenon
By Staff

As two recent Requests for Proposals (RFPs) conclude with contracts being awarded, the University of Colorado is leaning into the future of its technological landscape and online education environment.

Since joining CU earlier this year, President Mark Kennedy has prioritized efforts to enhance CU’s ability to deliver high-quality, effective and cost-efficient online education. Two RFPs were launched in August:

  • One effort will assess CU’s enterprise-wide technology landscape, looking at the university’s major applications, data, infrastructure and processes and recommend opportunities to improve the university’s technology approach now and in the future. The technology assessment is expected to underpin and advance many elements of the strategic plan, both as it relates to student success and to university systems.
  • The other effort addresses online education, gauging CU’s current capabilities, reviewing national and regional markets, assessing the competitive environment, and recommending successful operating structures.

“Technology is fundamental to our enterprise, whether in how we deliver online education or in how our large technology platforms facilitate an effective teaching, learning, research or work environment,” said CU President Mark Kennedy. “These projects will help us make optimal use of technology.”

The technology assessment contract has been awarded to Deloitte, which has worked with more than 200 higher education clients, including nine of the top 10 universities. Roy Mathew, who is a leader in the Deloitte Higher Education practice, will lead the project.

“Deloitte’s IT Transformation Framework offers a menu of areas to align CU’s technology approach with leading practices,” said Kathy Nesbitt, vice president for administration, who is coordinating the effort. “Our aim is to better position the CU system to efficiently and effectively deliver technology services to students, faculty, researchers and staff. We want to strike the right balance of centralized and distributed IT across the four campuses and system administration.”

Deloitte’s Framework covers the four major components of IT – IT Governance, IT Finance, Technology Capabilities, IT Services – drawing from industry-accepted practices. It will enable a comprehensive view of CU’s IT setup, with an understanding that while certain parts of an organization’s IT may be studied or assessed separately, they still have dependencies on other facets and that none of them exist in a vacuum.

Plans call for Deloitte consultants to be onsite through March, when an executive report will be delivered.

CU also has awarded a consulting contract to EY-Parthenon, which will advise the university in its efforts to advance online education across the CU system.

EY-Parthenon prevailed after a competitive bidding process that drew responses from the country’s leading educational consulting firms. The online consulting project will be led by Kasia Lundy and Haven Ladd, both of whom are managing directors of EY-Parthenon and members of Parthenon’s education group.

The consulting engagement will focus on assessing CU’s current and anticipated online capabilities across the system; analyzing the competitive market for online educational services in Colorado and across the United States to determine where CU can best focus its efforts; and advising CU’s leadership on the governance, financial and technological structures that university systems can employ to best deliver online education.

A steering committee of leaders in online education from across the CU campuses and led by Patrick O’Rourke, vice president, general counsel and secretary to the Board of Regents, will guide EY-Parthenon’s work.

“Beginning in the coming weeks and continuing into the first quarter of 2020, EY-Parthenon will broadly engage with faculty, staff and administration officials to gain an understanding of CU’s needs and capabilities,” O’Rourke said.

Kennedy said EY-Parthenon’s engagement will complement CU’s efforts to become more competitive in online education while also maximizing the existing strengths of the CU system.

“CU delivers a high-quality education to students across our campuses, but we need to reach more learners beyond the boundaries of our campuses,” Kennedy said. “Too many potential students – in Colorado, across the country and even around the world – are choosing to enroll in online programs with other institutions. CU needs to be a university of choice for online learners.”