I had the opportunity recently to speak twice on topics revolving around the digital environment we inhabit. The first, on cyber security, illustrated how that environment is changing and how we could change with it. The second, on data inconsistencies, fleshed out how North Dakota University System employees were working toward creating standardized processes throughout our infrastructure to help make it more efficient, and more secure.
I feel that these topics and others involving digital systems will help shape the next few years in higher education, and I’m happy that the system has the skilled teams it does as Core Technology Services undertakes these projects – more than two dozen in all.
Collaboration will help us move forward in the next 14 months toward goals set by the 64th Legislative Assembly and embraced by the State Board of Higher Education.
Earlier this year, language within House Bill 1003 called for the Board to proceed with policy changes to rectify concerns over data inconsistencies within the university system. The inconsistencies ranged from simple definitions regarding employee status to complex processes surrounding financial reporting and information coding. To address these concerns, standardized processes will be put into place by the time the legislature meets again in 2017.
Thanks to the spirit of collaboration and the application of hard work, project teams have already formed to address more than two dozen objectives that could solve those inconsistencies.
As numerous project team members from NDSU System Office, CTS and our 11 colleges and universities move forward together to solve these problems, new standards and definitions will be created throughout the system.
Standardized processes for accreditation exist already to ensure that institutions of higher education maintain certain quality standards for instruction and research. Likewise, standardized processes within our campuses will help foster an environment where services can be more easily shared, audits can be made more efficient and reporting done with more transparency. That will us implement policies and procedures that fit the intent of the legislative mandates and the needs of the North Dakota people, all on behalf of the students of our university system.
Over the course of the coming months, there will be a discovery phase to find where exactly the data inconsistencies exist, then research done on how to resolve them. After those two phases are done then the implementation of standardized procedures will be undertaken to bring any and all departments or campuses in line with each other.
None of the goals or objectives are focused on any particular department or campus, but aim instead to be the rising tide that lifts all boats. Smaller projects will build toward the larger goal that benefits all of higher education throughout North Dakota, and will prove that the spirit of collaboration is alive and well throughout our campuses, and beyond.