- Lynn University President Kevin Ross and CIO Christopher Boniforti have found success in finishing their strategic campus plan two years ahead of schedule while leveraging technology to push forward.
- In a recent office visit with Education Dive, Ross said that their success was a blending of strategy around clearly outlined components of the plan and a little bit of serendipity, with two of the largest components spontaneously hosting the 2012 presidential election — preparation for which required critical investments in tech infrastructure — and launching the largest tablet-based program in the nation through an iPad initiative for students and faculty. Boniforti said the initiative allowed the institution to invest in an efficient wireless plan.
- Ross said multiple parts of the campus, from athletics to graphic design and business, have been able to leverage the iPads, as it allows all kinds of students to innovate in real time when inspiration strikes — and they plan to integrate this creative thinking into future plans moving forward, re-imagining the campus in 2025 and considering the institution's footprint or social impact.
Earlier this week, Lynn University celebrated the early completion of its campus plan — originally scheduled to be finished for 2020 — components of which included creating an initiative for teaching and learning with iPads, raising funds, creating new facilities on campus, creating accelerated degree programs, expanding study abroad options and creating a school for digital media arts. Lynn University's president and CIO both remarked that leveraging this technology helped them create efficiencies in management and innovation, a foundation which extends across higher education, with the top 3 trends transforming the industry including tools such as artificial intelligence, digital tools for collaboration and data collection.
"We really re-envisioned what we thought should be the future for Lynn. There were academic components to it, a new core curriculum which our faculty and staff did a remarkable job on called 'dialogues' which received national praise," said Ross.
"We had always been tinkering with technology, so we had some ideas of the things we wanted to do there as far as devices and students and learning, but there were physical components. We raised about 100 million dollars in capital, we transformed buildings, residence halls [...] so there's been this rising tide over the last decade or so in some great ways."
And in terms of how the institution managed to complete the plan so quickly, Ross says that hosting a presidential debate and launching the iPad initiative allowed the institution to leapfrog into new technology infrastructure and gain national attention, helping it move at a rapid pace.
Now, he says the institution moving forward with more innovation built into its next campus plan is going to leverage the creativity and collaboration capacity gained through the iPad infrastructure to help re-imagine what the institution can achieve, as well as consider how to create more social impact and entrepreneurship programs that will give back to the community. Coupled with a new social impact lab, both leaders say this approach will help the school give students a chance to creative ways of reducing their footprint.
"We've been using design thinking activities, some of the basic methodologies we brought in about 250 individuals including boards of trustees members, faculty, students, staff with over 40 sessions where we put individuals together that don't traditionally go together, so it's been great having teams working towards dreaming what Lynn University ought to look like in 2025," said Boniforti, who added that the technology really "allowed faculty and staff to dream."
To hear more of the conversation check out the full interview on Education Dive's Facebook page and check out the live video.