CIO Scott Huston Shares Valuable Insight for the Information Technology Community
At Stockton University, students always have first priority. Whenever the institution looks at new technology initiatives, administration and staff analyze how the change will have an impact on the overall student experience.
As a public university, Stockton’s mission is to provide an environment for excellence to a diverse student body, including those from underrepresented populations. In the area of Information Technology Services (ITS), this means identifying technology that can improve experiences in the classroom, around campus, and on the go, as well as understanding that Stockton’s students come from a wide range of technology experiences and have different needs.
Maintaining Stockton’s mission also means supporting the operation of the University by enhancing the school’s existing technology infrastructure, while exploring and encouraging the creative and innovative use of technology.
“We want to deliver services and solutions that enable a quality user experience. From cutting-edge public health simulation labs to mobile-friendly websites, students’ interests should always be—without exception—the number one factor when approaching assessment of technological needs,” said Scott Huston, Chief Information Officer at Stockton University.
Demand for Technological Advancement
Today’s students have high expectations for campus technologies. At Stockton University, this means the administration closely evaluates new initiatives by first analyzing how the advancement will impact the student experience.
“Students are our best means of staying ahead of the demand for technology advancement,” Huston shared. “We are fortunate to have very active student senators on our IT Advisory Board who help ensure the conversation around innovation reflects students’ expectations.”
Key student drivers, such as access to network services and Wi-Fi on campus, are mapped into a prescribed network replacement plan to ensure the regular addition and replacement of switches and access points occurs to meet the needs of emerging wireless technologies and students’ expectations.
Stockton also regularly polls the entire student body for areas of suggested improvement and acts quickly to respond to their concerns. The addition of both mobile and color printing are examples of student suggestions the University has implemented throughout the main campus and outer instructional sites to enhance schoolwork.
ITS also constantly monitors the usage of computer facilities, software, printing, internet bandwidth, and helpdesk services to guarantee enhanced technology support and accessibility for all users of Stockton’s technology resources.
“As a division, our goals are to increase effectiveness and efficiency through the use of technology and to ensure there are adequate resources made available to students,” Huston said. “Achieving this goal means adjusting rapidly when required, while still providing a technologically safe and secure environment.”
Technology’s Role in Student Success
Technology plays an enormous, and still growing, role in helping students achieve success, but Huston cautioned only if the technological tools are innovative, reliable, and sustainable.
“Our goal is to successfully create an educational atmosphere that optimizes satisfaction while supporting the learning experience,” he added. “ITS at Stockton strives to support ubiquitous, integrated, and fully-engaging learning experiences for all members of the campus community.”
For example, the student portal, learning management systems, student email, and many other technological systems used to support learning at Stockton must all be operational around the clock, accessible from myriad devices, and supported by a highly-skilled team to allow for the achievement of student outcomes in higher education.
Technology also aids higher-level institutional planning by reinforcing the collection of key metrics, ensuring the University can make strategic decisions that support student success while attending to broader campus concerns.
These reasons are why ITS is constantly examining new collection and reporting technologies, evaluating student success software systems, and recommending innovative technologies to improve pedagogical outcomes in an effort to meet the school’s vision of providing a diverse, values-based, student-centered environment of exceptional teaching and learning.
“Although these initiatives make demands on both ITS and the University as a whole, the results outweigh the costs if student support is an institutional priority,” Huston added.
Balancing Needs versus Constraints
Academic institutions are looking for considerable return on investment for how and what is spent on technology. Colleges and universities must strategically plan in order to balance the need for updated or new resources with a barrage of budget restraints and other limitations passed along.
“Stockton is fortunate enough to be led by a forward-thinking president, Dr. Harvey Kesselman, who is supported by an extremely talented cabinet and board of trustees,” Huston said. “All levels of leadership are overwhelmingly and unwaveringly showing support of technology as our institution grows.”
Huston is also the leader of technology on campus and spends an appreciable amount of time researching technological solutions with his management team, as well as analyzing the financial numbers to determine possible return on investment, while making calculated decisions that help the University to meet its technological goals at the lowest cost possible.
“I always make it a priority to align technological resources, including equipment, personnel, and budget with institutional priorities and initiatives to allow for the most technologically-advanced services possible,” Huston noted.
Through the successful implementation of numerous technology solutions at the University, and dedicated support of Stockton’s faculty, staff, and students, Huston’s past successes have allowed him to continue to strategically plan for both the immediate and future technological needs of the University, knowing that he has the full support of everyone throughout the University.
Ongoing Evolution of Information Technologies
Huston has also played a major role in how information technologies have progressed over the past decade at Stockton University. Technology has impacted how the school attracts, recruits, educates, and supports its students.
From the moment a student receives their first digital postcard or visits Stockton’s campus for the first time, technology plays a crucial role in the recruitment of the school’s future Ospreys. Technology fosters the scheduling, communication, and learning experience of students, which naturally occurs in Stockton’s high-tech classrooms. These lecture halls feature advanced audio/video technologies, high lumen projectors, and state-of-the-art computers. Students are able to complete their classwork online through a digital library, virtual desktop infrastructure, and education-focused video collaboration technologies.
“The evolution of information technologies at Stockton over the past decade has been nothing short of extraordinary,” Huston noted. “Our success started with building and sustaining an amazingly talented team of managers and employees that devote their time and talents to ensure that ITS remains a highly-functioning contributor to Stockton’s environment.”
However, technological support for the learning process has broadened. Over the past decade, Stockton has worked to offer digital access to many of the University’s student support services, including advising, tutoring, and counseling, which are imperative to a student’s continued success.
Ten years ago, these types of instructional and support services were only possible in person, but the inclusion of digital options ensure that students have easier, and more timely, access to the tools they require to remain at the top of their game.
Stockton’s technological advancement and overall success is clear evidence of Huston’s hard work and leadership. He recommends not being afraid to pilot new technologies that allow the institution to advance.
“You must always place the needs of students first, no matter what solution you are implementing or what decision needs to be made, as they are ultimately the reason we are all in the business of higher education,” Huston shared.
Stockton and Edge Have Valuable Partnership
Stockton University and Edge have worked together for many years, both committed to building a strong bond between the technology-focused leaders in New Jersey’s higher education space and providing a platform that fosters the sharing of experiences between member institutions.
“Edge’s various groups, forums, learning events, and conferences unite technology leaders and innovators in higher education throughout the state, and I look forward to their continued growth and future offerings,” Huston added.
The experience Huston has gained from leading Stockton’s ITS Department has also made him well-known and respected amongst other institutional technology leaders, especially in regards to the digital transformation occurring in today’s higher education world.
Huston talks about the importance of always listening to your constituents and building a team that helps goals become achieved.
“You must also never fear failure,” he added. “Technology moves and changes at a much quicker pace than most other fields, especially in higher education. Listen to the needs of the institution, be prepared to act quickly on those requests, work as hard as you possibly can, and know that you will most likely need to pivot at some point along the way in order to achieve success with any project.”
Putting students first and placing a high priority on technology is why Stockton University is a leader in higher education.
To connect with Huston, he can be reached via email at Scott.Huston@stockton.edu.