Academics and information technology are closely integrated at Lynn University
Published Jan. 15, 2013
As Lynn University prepares to launch one of higher education’s most extensive efforts to integrate tablets into the learning process, Gregg Cox, vice president for academic affairs, and Chris Boniforti, chief information officer, agree that their two groups' close working relationship is rare in the industry and plays a major part in helping the university enhance students’ learning experience.
“Most academics just demand new tools and capabilities with little understanding of what it takes to make it happen. Conversely most chief information officers don’t take time to consider the reasons academics want what they want,” Cox said. “We’re different here. Chris’s group asks questions up front to understand why things are being requested—to understand the desired end result in the classroom.”
Cox’s background also helps. He first joined the university in 1981 as instructor of mathematics and computer science and spent 20 years teaching those subjects before he moved on to become more involved in leading academia.
“Gregg’s ability to understand the opportunities in technology makes it easier for IT to be involved with academics. I don’t think that happens at many institutions,” Boniforti said.
The closely integrated relationship began to form when Lynn decided it was going to extensively upgrade the technology in the classrooms and formed an Academic Spaces Task Force. Both academics and information technology (IT) played major roles in determining how the school would upgrade the technology in the classrooms.
“To get the job done, we had to blend the academic world with technology and work in tandem,” Boniforti said. “This created a mutual understanding of how the two teams affect and need each other to produce the best result, and this understanding continues to today. At Lynn, both sides see the benefit of the other side.”
The two senior leaders at Lynn don’t just work closely, but are physically close to each other. Their offices are next to each other in Lynn’s library, and, unlike at many other schools, the library reports to the chief information officer, not academics.
“When I went to college, you experienced computers in the lab, not the classroom. Now technology is integrated throughout the academic process. Because of this, the old walls between academics and information technology are coming down and the old lines are being blurred,” Boniforti said.
Both Cox and Boniforti see their close working relationship benefiting not just the iPad rollout but also the construction of the university’s new International Business Center that is due to open in 2014. The LEED-certified building will host some of the most innovative integration of technology and learning spaces in South Florida.
“The new school of business building design is focused on coming up with the best interactive learning space,” Cox said. “This will require continued close coordination between academics and IT.”
More on Cox and Boniforti
Gregg Cox, vice president for academic affairs, has been with Lynn University for more than 30 years. He has held a number of roles at the university including math and computer science professor, golf coach and dean. Cox can speak to the media regarding Lynn’s innovative curriculum, the state of higher education in Florida and the nation, changes at Lynn (academic and historical), application of math to everyday life and making math fun.
Chris Boniforti, chief information officer (CIO), has been a Lynn University Information Technology (IT) staffer since 1999 and was named CIO in 2006. Boniforti, who has been published in Security Administrators Network Systems (SANS), Ed Tech Magazine and Campus Technology magazine, can speak to the media regarding computer security and the importance of technology in today’s classrooms (and during a crisis), campus network management and technological advancements.