Where Do Higher Education CIOs Come From?

Higher ed technology leaders are still most commonly hired from within academia. Take a look at some interesting demographics.

Wayne A. Brown, Contributor

May 9, 2013

2 Min Read

As for gender, women with higher ed backgrounds seemed to have a slight advantage over those from the commercial sector. There was a greater percentage of female CIOs from higher ed (21%) than from the commercial sector (16%). The commercial-sector CIOs not only were more likely to be male, but marginally younger than their higher ed peers: 61% were 51 years old or older, compared to 66% of the higher ed CIOs. About the same percentage -- 50% -- were likely to retire within the next decade, though. The percentages were 51% for higher ed and 48% for the commercial sector.

Two benchmarks helped defined the importance of the CIO to the institution: whether the CIO serves on the institution management team (IMT) and whether he or she reports to the institution CEO. In both cases, the higher ed CIOs led, but not by much. Thirty-three percent of higher ed CIOs reported to the CEO compared to the commercial sector's 30%. There was a 5% difference in IMT service, with higher ed CIOs at 56% and commercial-sector CIOs at 51%.

Bottom lines? Although slightly over a quarter of higher ed CIOs came from other industries, the research does not support the idea that a migration has been sudden or dramatic. In fact, commercial-sector CIOs have been in their current position longer than their higher education-grown counterparts. As a whole, the surveyed CIOs have invested significantly more time working in technology within academia than outside of it.

In sum, the CIOs from the two groups don't differ much -- with the exception of education level, where higher ed CIOs have a big edge.

The CIO report and the accompanying technology leader report (those in the next organizational layer down from the CIO) will be available from CHECS in June 2013.

About the Author(s)

Wayne  A.  Brown


Wayne A. Brown is the founder of the Center for Higher Education Chief Information Officer Studies Inc, a non profit organization focused on contributing to the education and development of higher education CIOs. His longitudinal CIO effectiveness research has been published in EDUCAUSE Quarterly and EDUCAUSE Review, Public CIO, Leadership Abstracts, Campus Technology, and Gartner reports.

Wayne also serves as the Vice President for Extended Education at Excelsior College in Albany, NY. Prior to his current role, Wayne was the first Vice President for Information Technology at Excelsior College. Prior to joining Excelsior, he was the Executive Vice President for Administration at Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, KS. Brown is a retired US Air Force officer. He holds a Ph.D. in Computing Technology in Education from Nova Southeastern University and a Master’s of Business Administration with an emphasis in computer information systems from Wayland Baptist University, Plainview, Texas.

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