Fordham CIO: University leading the pack with IT innovations

Frank Sirianni, vice president and CIO of Fordham University, speaks to Fordham's CIO Roundtable.

Frank Sirianni, vice president and CIO of Fordham University, speaks to Fordham’s CIO Roundtable.

How do you provide for the technology needs of students, faculty, and staff at a university with three distinct campuses and myriad buildings, offices, dormitories and open spaces?

Fordham’s Vice President and Chief Information Officer Frank Sirianni has a simple answer: It’s not easy. But, Sirianni explained during his talk at a recent Fordham CIO Roundtable, the challenge is met by constant efforts to rethink procedures and innovate, as demonstrated by Fordham IT’s move to cloud-based management systems.

At the Fordham CIO Roundtable, organized by Gabelli School of Business Associate Professor Aditya Saharia and attended by chief information officers and other IT professionals, Sirianni focused on some of the unique challenges faced by a large university when it comes to information technology.

“A university has a more complex set of value propositions than most businesses,” Sirianni told the assembled group. “We have multiple administrative departments and nine diverse schools. Fordham’s strength is in its diversity, but when you’re coordinating services across a diverse business, things get complicated.”

Those complications involve “the core business of the university, which includes admitting students, giving them financial aid, collecting tuition, registering them, and graduating them,” said Sirianni. His team is confronting these administrative challenges by moving a majority of the systems that manage those transactions to the cloud.

While some schools have moved small parts of their operations to cloud-based systems, Fordham’s move is on a much larger scale, Sirianni said.

“And that’s significant,” he noted. “Fordham is the first university to implement the cloud on such a large scale. We’re getting a lot of calls from our peers.”

The move is not just innovative, but necessary. “We don’t have unlimited resources, so we need to allocate them strategically,” Sirianni said. “With the move to the cloud, more IT staff will be available to work on the technology resources that benefit faculty, students and administrators, and help the University be competitive in a global education market.”

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