CIOs Take Center Stage in Shaping the Future of Higher Education

Jessie Minton, Vice chancellor for Technology and Chief Information Officer, Washington University in St. Louis

Jessie Minton, Vice chancellor for Technology and Chief Information Officer, Washington University in St. Louis

Recently appointed as the Vice chancellor for Technology and Chief Information Officer at Washington University in St. Louis, Jessie Minton is an accomplished leader and information technology professional with deep expertise in health care and biomedical research technology. She begins her new role at Washington April 15, 2022.

She is currently the vice provost and chief information officer at the University of Oregon, where she is responsible for the IT services and strategy in support of the university's teaching, research, and service mission. Jessie also oversees Information Services—the university's central IT department—which provides a broad range of technology services to UO students, faculty, and staff.

Prior to joining the University of Oregon, Jessie was the director of business operations and technical support services in the central IT organization at Oregon Health & Science University. Jessie has served in leadership roles for 17 years, including experience in the private sector with Yahoo! and Change Healthcare (formerly WebMD Business Services) before moving into higher education.

Jessie is an NWACC Leadership Program Fellow (2015). She completed her master's degree in management and organizational leadership at Warner Pacific University, and her bachelor's degree in anthropology with a minor in business administration at the University of Oregon.

In an interview with Educational Technology Insights magazine, Jessie Minton, chief information officer at the University of Oregon discusses factors that contribute to success of an institution as a higher education CIO.

My advice is to keep a good relationship with the institution at all levels. Having strong relationships allows you to gain a holistic view of the campus and bring people together to make the best decisions for the school

What are some of the pain points impacting the higher education space lately?

One of the major pain points that we're all reckoning with right now as well as other industries is the staffing crisis. There has been a tremendous re-evaluation of individuals at all levels of an organization around their priorities and the pandemic has changed how people think about place-based employment. And this has created a situation for higher education where we are competing with many industries that are outside our geographical area, as it has become very apparent to organizations that they can hire, effectively recruit and have people work remotely. They can also bring them in onto their campuses if necessary, but there are opportunities for people to stay right where they are and to go to work for a school in another region. And that has opened up competition amongst higher education institutions. We’re working on how to best recruit and retain staff in this environment.

What is the key to success as a higher education CIO?

Our people are our biggest strategic assets. Having a group of people who clearly understand the institution's mission, what the institution's IT team’s goals are and how they directly contribute to the bigger picture is very important for maintaining a good institutional culture. From initial recruitment to ongoing retention, an institution's leadership and culture is significant. As a result, as CIOs, we must foster a culture that reflects these opportunities and ideals. It should be one where people can grow in ways that are not only a fit for the institution, but also good for them individually. Our people are the foundation of our success, and I strive to create a culture in which those people feel supported, seen as whole people, and able to grow and thrive.

What are some of the trends that have emerged in the higher education space?

Predictive analytics will continue to be extremely critical for our campus' transition to data-informed culture and environment. For the institution, the ability to capture data and use it for research analytics, learning analytics, student success, analytics for finance and human resources, and understanding parts of the university in ways that were not before feasible has the potential to be transformational. There is tremendous opportunity in machine learning in this space, and as we consider it we must also be aware of and actively work to mitigate the potential for bias.

What would be your piece of advice to aspiring CIOs?

Understanding what our institution demands and being able to bring people with conflicting interests together that support the campus are the keys to our success as CIOs in higher education.

To accomplish this, my advice is to keep a good relationship with the institution at all levels. Having strong relationships allows you to gain a holistic view of the campus and bring people together to make the best decisions for the school.

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