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Information Technology Handbook

1.1 Chief Information Officer Role and Responsibilities

Print friendly Version date January 8, 2012

A CIO in a higher education institution must be operationally sound and a skilled leader of staff, of peers, and of causes. The CIO position must act as a fundamental partner with the other CxOs of the organization, and must anticipate the organization’s needs. Therefore, regardless of the reporting structure within the organization, this position must be a contributing member of the leadership team; understand the organization’s mission, purpose, and intent; and provide a sound operating platform on which to launch new initiatives. The CIO may not be the subject matter expert on all things that the organization requires information technology to support, improve, or launch. He/she will not be the perfect combination of all who rely on him/her: a professor, a researcher, an accountant, a librarian, a scientist.

While the requirement for a strong leader is paramount, projects to achieve business objectives should not be led solely by the CIO. The CIO must be an advisor, a consultant, and a co-leader of projects to achieve strategies, but is not the sole person in the organization that should be advocating for an implementation of an IT solution. The implementation of any new IT solution must be sought to create, resolve, or improve some business, academic, or research function, and therefore should be led by the CxO responsible for that function.

While a well-defined and adopted working relationship between the CIO and other CxOs is paramount, the CIO must also have similar business relationships with key institution non-CxO-level management, such as human resources, legal counsel, audit and risk management, accreditation, compliance, campus police, deans, etc., as well as local authorities. For example, the CIO should be included directly in conversations and assessments of legal acts that impact IT operations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and other similar federal and state legislation.