Like with any significant moment in time, “Where were you in 2020?” will likely become a topic of conversation for higher ed leaders for years to come, quickly followed by, “What did you do?”

Beyond the comradery that comes of shared experiences, there is significant value in this reflection, not just in the future, but today as colleges and universities steel themselves for an uncertain spring and chart their path forward.

Given the complexities of COVID, developing a plan is not easy work. I’ve heard it described as we’re all weathering the same storm, but not everyone is in the same boat. While this crisis has highlighted how an institution’s level of preparedness, infrastructure, and culture impacts its ability to respond to the challenges presented by the pandemic, there are strategies producing results that are universally relevant. Hearing how others have responded can spark ideas and elevate opportunities to try similar tactics and evolve efforts.

I’m a believer in sharing information early and often to help others gain insights. After seeing how Clark University has been leveraging data to inform its response to COVID, I asked Joseph Kalinowski, the university’s CIO, to share more about their approach.

Darren Catalano: The pandemic has galvanized leaders from every corner of campus to work together to address the challenges created by COVID. The CIO’s office plays a critical role in providing key information and insights to inform planning and preparation. What has this looked like at Clark?

Kalinowski: In looking for a silver lining in all of this, our spirit of collaboration absolutely is one. As the CIO, I have been afforded the opportunity to partner with a wide range of people across the campus, usually working on problems that need a quick solution and are along a critical path. This was most true with our efforts to safely reopen our campus this fall. The quick pivot to remote learning in March, as well as efforts to minimize personal contact in the fall, led to us evaluate numerous business processes and solve a lot of challenges with technology.

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About the Author:

Darren Catalano is the former vice president of analytics at the University of Maryland Global Campus. He currently serves as CEO of HelioCampus, a company born out of the University System of Maryland that provides strategic decision support and insights to colleges and universities through an enterprise analytics platform, benchmarking and data science services.