Higher education institutions rely on CIOs for leadership and governance. They manage the people, process and technology that supports the needs of the institution. The level of technological sophistication needed to run an institution is increasing, making specialized IT staff more necessary than ever. Unfortunately, staffing shortages are a real challenge many institutions are facing – and the average salary for a CIO ranges at $128-184k a year. 

As a result, colleges and universities are turning to Collegis for help. We are able to support their staffing challenges by offering our tech leaders as a virtual CIO (vCIO) as well as other IT expertise.  This enables the institution to leverage the expertise and leadership of a CIO without incurring the overhead of a full-time executive. Like an on-premise CIO, a vCIO guides an institution’s leadership to create an IT strategy, and then provides governance and leadership to oversee the strategy and ensure a satisfying technology experience for students and staff.  

Deb Lang, Collegis Vice President of Information Technology, serves as a vCIO for a private liberal arts university rooted in the Lutheran tradition with approximately 2,200 students. Below she provides a glimpse into her role. 

What is a typical day like for you as a vCIO? 

Each day, I am available at any time to provide guidance on issues that arise through the school’s day-to-day operations. I work with the Collegis Security team on known security threats that could impact the institution. Additionally, I dedicate time each day to stay up to date on technology trends that would benefit the institution. 

How did you assimilate into the company culture of your institutional partner?  

I took time to understand the institution’s history and culture. I reviewed the institution’s technology landscape and their activities with the Collegis teams that support the institution. I met with the institution leaders to understand their roles and explain the responsibilities I have as their vCIO.  

What is the process like for creating a technology strategy for an institution? 

It begins with understanding the institution’s objectives and collaborating with their leaders. The technology strategy is built to align with those objectives. Defining the IT budget and identifying any business process and technology changes are included in the strategy.   

How do you maintain a presence within the institution without being on campus?  

Interacting with the institution regularly is a priority. This is easily done through online conferencing. There are weekly meetings with many of the institution leaders on various topics. We meet several times a month providing progress on activities.  

What is the best success you’ve had as a vCIO? 

Becoming a trusted advisor is what I’m most proud of. A vCIO has to have the right mix of experience in technology and business processes.  

When might partnering with a vCIO be the best option for an institution?  

Bringing in a vCIO can be cost effective for any institution. The institution receives the benefits of strategic leadership, guidance for the IT support staff and optimizing technology costs without the cost of a full-time executive.  

Is a vCIO right for your institution? 

If your college or university could benefit from strategic IT leadership without the costs of an in-house executive, Collegis can help. Reach out to us today for more information.   

Author: Jessica Conte

Jessica Conte is a content specialist with experience working in higher education. She holds a B.A. in English and an MBA from the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Illinois.