The mission statement of the UCSB Division of Student Affairs, the organization I work for, has not changed since 1996, as far as I can tell. Earlier this evening, I was looking at the original website for the division I created in 1996 via Wayback Machine and noticed the exact mission statement we have on our website now. While our core mission has remained constant, the ways our various units and the division conduct our business have changed throughout the years. Shaped by technological advances including the internet, infrastructures (virtualization, storage, networks), development tools, as well as budgetary constraints, mandates and the demands of our students, I think it’s safe to say our organization went through (and still going through) a technology (r)evolution. My organization, in my opinion, is an example of how an organization can evolve and keep up with trends while maintaining its mission. This is not to say that keeping up with the trends has not had its challenges and resistance, but guided by the principle of innovation set by our Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Dr. Michael Young, we have been generally successful. When I started as a web developer in 1996, Dr. Young shared with me a principle I have used throughout my career. He told me “I’d rather have us moving forward and make mistakes along the way than to stagnate.” This is the same principle that has allowed our division to commit to technology as a key component of our division.
Throughout this period of transformation, I have seen the adoption of new technologies in virtually all aspects of our organization. Just recently, I compiled a list of the systems (pdf – 4.55 mb) we have developed and implemented throughout the last 15 years along with some legacy mainframe applications we still support. The more than 120+ information systems/web sites are products of a commitment towards technology that the leaders of our organizations made 15 years ago. Some of the notable systems in our portfolio include:
- Integrated electronic medical system consisting of several vendor solutions for our student health service and counseling services
- Enrollment management systems including online application status/statement of intent to register, electronic grades submission, academic progress, online application review, online catalog, course enrollment, document management system
- Student services systems including disabled student program online system (notetaking, proctoring management), alcohol/drug program enrollment management, online advising notes system
- Online events ticketing, recreation program integrated system including online course enrollment
A part of that commitment is to create a central computing department within the division which grew from approximately 5 staff to more than 40 today. The organizational chart has changed several times throughout the years to respond to the changing priorities and needs.
As the trend towards greater adoption of consumer technologies (social media, cloud, mobile) in student affairs continues, along with the increasing budgetary constraints, changing student demographics and greater financial burdens to students, our organization is now having to adapt to the expectations of our socially networked and mobile students. This requires a move towards social business, integrating social networking technologies as part of our business processes. As it was in 1996 when web became a serious business tool in our organization, it took some time for the entire organization to recognize the value of the web. A conclusion I’ve come to given my experience throughout this technology (r)evolution is that the pace of innovation moves at the speed of the organization. Undoubtedly, our organization will continue to remain dynamic and accommodating to new trends consistent with our mission.