Integrating Technology into the Massachusetts Public Higher Education
Updated: June 4, 2003
According to an October 1999 report to the Board of Higher Education,
the Massachusetts public higher education system gets only average
grades for effectively integrating technology into the curriculum.
A visiting Committee of thirty-two academics and information technology
professionals analyzed eighty-six technology certificate and degree
programs offered by the state college system, finding courses with
little or no relevance to the workplace of the New Economy, and concluding
that the curriculum was at best "traditional," even in the
strongest programs. It was the first such review since 1987.
Recommendations presented by the visiting Committee to the Board of
Higher Education include:
- an accreditation process for state college computer science
- an improved system to recruit talented information technology
faculty and students for graduate degree programs;
- improved computer facilities and infrastructure; and
- creation of an industry advisory committee to form guidelines
for teaching information technology.
In response to these recommendations, the Board of Higher Education
in October 2000 established the Commonwealth Information Technology
Initiative (CITI), a three-year, $7 million designed to improve and
expand information technology education across the Commonwealth’s
public higher education system. The system educates 177,000 students
each year, and an estimated 85% of the system’s graduates live
and work in Massachusetts. These students represent an important part
of the workforce, since the state’s population is not growing.
CITI focuses on four program areas:
- Curriculum Enhancement: Revises and modernizes existing
courses and programs in computer science, management information
systems and computer engineering.
- Faculty Development: Ensures that faculty in technical
disciplines have the skills to teach courses that meet industry’s
current Information Technology needs.
- IT Across the Curriculum: Establishes an IT minor that
integrates Information Technology education into non-technical
disciplines such as journalism or business.
- Regional Cooperation: Creates geographically based alliances
among schools and industry to leverage faculty, courses and other
resources for Information Technology.
CITI has successfully launched new courses and academic programs
in information technology across the state. Notable successes to
date include: the start of a process to modernize computer science
curriculum at many institutions; fostering new collaboration among
faculty at the University, state and community colleges; and forging
closer ties between academia and private industry around IT workforce
Unfortunately, CITI’s programs are at risk because public
funding was severely reduced in the ongoing state budget crisis.
What was originally designed in FY01 as a 3-year, $7 million program
has seen funding dramatically reduced in midstream. CITI was eliminated
from the state budget in FY02 and FY03, making it nearly impossible
for CITI to build on its initial successes and realize its potential.
CITI’s goal is to raise $2 million over the next 18 months
from private and public sources. CITI is seeking industry partners,
who understand the importance of IT workforce development, to help
obtain interim sources of private funding.
Software Council Position:
The Council supports full implementation of CITI and encourages
partnerships between the private sector and public job training
agencies to allow CITI to proceed with its programs.
Software Council Activity:
- Council President Joyce Plotkin and Trustee Rich Carpenter
served on the Technology Task Force convened by the Board of Higher
Education which reviewed the recommendations of the visiting committee
and which recommended the action plan leading to the creation
- Council President Joyce Plotkin testified before the Board of
Higher Education about the imporatance of the CITI program to
- The Council and 13 member CEOs met with Governor Romney and
raised CITI as one of the Council’s priorities.
- The Council has worked with the Board of Higher Education,
the University of Massachusetts and the Romney Administration
to seek public and private funding for CITI, arguing that the
IT industry needs programs such as CITI to address long-term,
structural workforce development concerns.