The Strategic Academic Enterprise:
why Erps will No longer Be Adequate
By Mary Jones
in the 1970s and ’80s, manufacturing firms began pur- ple generations; a shift in teaching and learning standards;
chasing centralized administrative software — “enterprise and the ever-present yet escalating issue of affordability.
resource Planning (ERP) systems” — to support their
infrastructure needs. in the 1990s, higher education ad- SERVIng MULTIPLE gEnERATIOnS AT THE SAME TIME
opted the term ERP to define the back-office systems imagine an incoming freshman class that includes your 17-
used by institutions to meet their most pressing business year old daughter, your 0-year-old brother, your mother,
needs — typically those related to financials, human re- and your grandfather. Possible? more than ever before,
sources, and student information. over the years, however, multiple generations are interacting with colleges and
institutions have struggled with a variety of issues outside universities at the same time — as students and as parents.
the scope of what a traditional ERP system can manage, and the members of each generation — Baby Boomer,
from effectively connecting with the community to suc- generation X, and millennial — learn differently and seek
cessfully marketing the campus vision and spirit, to of- unique services from an institution.
fering a teaching and learning experience that aligns with in order to meet the varying needs of these emerging
the institutional mission. These issues, as well as a host of students, parents, employees, and communities, institu-
others, have rendered the concept of ERP inadequate for tions will need to offer several different ways for its stu-
meeting the business and academic needs of higher educa- dents to accomplish the same task. everything will be
tion institutions. affected, from enrollment, registration, curriculum, and
Three dramatic trends are occurring in the higher edu- housing to financial aid, safety, facilities, and more.
cation industry. individually, these trends are nothing that
institutions haven’t faced before; in fact, many institutions who are they?
have adapted accordingly and have continued to be suc- shaped by current events, each generation is drastically
cessful. However, these trends have converged, causing a different from the others.
dramatic shift in the way higher education institutions W Baby Boomers: Born between 19 and 190, Baby
operate and strive to fulfill their vision of student success. Boomers grew up during the post–World War II era
These trends can be identified as the need to serve multi- of optimism. They witnessed the cold War, the space
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race, the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, the (Wegerer 008). The independent gen Xers undoubtedly
“summer of love,” and much more; all of these shaped will want to use technology for registration and even for
their beliefs and values. They are the first generation classes, but the moment they don’t like the service or the
that grew up with television, which broadcast the same offering, they are gone without a word.
programs, news, and laughs across the nation. it has Higher education institutions will need both to bal-
been said that boomers helped transform the current ance technology and personal face-to-face services and
educational system (Howe and strauss 007). to be flexible enough to adapt quickly, depending on the
W generation X: This is the MTV generation, born be- customer.
tween 191 and 1981. Widely criticized as slackers, they curriculum also should change to meet the needs