According to the CHECS report, there are 5 key takeaways about the CIO of 2016:

1. They’re probably someone you know.

According to the report, 75 percent of CIOs in higher ed are from the higher ed sector, and most CIOs rise up through the ranks of the IT department.  It’s also increasingly likely that the CIO is someone from within the institution.

2. They’re incredibly qualified.

82 percent of CIOs today have a Master’s degree (same percentage as 2003), and 81 percent of technology leaders surveyed said they believe a CIO should have a Master’s degree. However, while in every other yearly survey respondents said the choice of major doesn’t matter, this year the majority of respondents said a CIO’s major should be a technical major.

Yet, experience can trump a degree, said survey respondents. 75 percent said preparation for the CIO role should focus on serving a college-wide constituency. Other preparation should include being mentored by a CIO (63 percent), on-the-job training (62 percent), continuing education (19 percent), and certifications (18 percent).


3. They’re a role chameleon, but are appreciated for the classics.

Brown noted there are seven roles a CIO must undertake: business partner, classic IT support provider, contact oversight, informaticist and IT strategist, integrator, IT educator, and profession advocate.

Yet, when it comes to the role technology leaders say is most important, classic IT support (i.e. laptop setup and phone support) rules them all. CIOs themselves report spending 70 percent of their time on IT and institutional strategy. Their self-reported areas of responsibility are IT (69 percent), library (10 percent), research (8 percent) and facilities (4 percent).


4. They are communication masters.

Technology leaders and CIOs surveyed for the report said that leadership and communication skills are the two most important skills a CIO should have in 2016, followed by higher education knowledge, relationship building and technical knowledge.

Communication skills refer to the ability to be fluent in business language, fluent in higher education language, and able to communicate and present information without technical terms to non-technical people.

“I used to make horrible mistakes hiring people because I would hire based on their technical skills only,” noted Brown. “But you really have to have people who can hold a conversation and know how to dress properly for the role.”

5. They’re probably mentoring someone

Brown explained that training to be a CIO is much like a shoe-cobbler: you get to be skilled through on-the-job-training and years of experience. And much of this training comes from a mentor, usually the CIO at the time.

The report highlights that 47 percent of technology leaders said they were being mentored by their CIOs, while 59 percent of CIOs surveyed said they were currently mentoring someone.

However, 40 percent of those technology leaders who said they were being mentored by a CIO expressed that they were not doing any activities related to the mentorship. In other words, a mentor was there in name only.

“I can’t stress enough how important mentorship is for this position,” emphasized Brown. “Make sure that when you’re a mentor, you actually do something with that mentorship.”

For much more information on methodology and findings, click here.

About the Author:

Meris Stansbury

Meris Stansbury is the Editorial Director for both eSchool News and eCampus News, and was formerly the Managing Editor of eCampus News. Before working at eSchool Media, Meris worked as an assistant editor for The World and I, an online curriculum publication. She graduated from Kenyon College in 2006 with a BA in English, and enjoys spending way too much time either reading or cooking.

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