Chris Wiegman Chris Wiegman

CMS Success in Unlikely Applications

Over the last few weeks I’ve seen more instances of CMS success in higher education than I have since coming back to higher ed full-time 4 years ago. From departments to a a whole school I’ve been reminded again why higher-ed, more than any industry I’ve been involved in, needs to make use of a CMS for not only recruiting and retention, but also for alumni relations, politics, and general survival.

Of the dozen or so examples I’ve seen in the last few weeks there are two that really stick out in my mind as instances where the implementation of a CMS has really paid our own department back in ways that were barely even considered before.

First up, last Monday the chair of one of the Aviation departments called me asking what happened to a scholarship they had posted online. They know they had posted it, but due to our goal of only keeping scholarships students can apply to on our site it had expired and been removed. The problem was the scholarship was sponsored by a member of the administration who was rather irate that it was not prominently displayed on the website.

Under their previous system of hard-coding everything by hand they were afraid it would be gone and it would be difficult to recreate the data and save their political face. Since they have joined my department to share a CMS however the data was not gone, it just did not display on the homepage. We were able to bring it back up in a few seconds and in fact changed the layout of our scholarships page to keep everyone happy in the future. Disaster averted.

Next up was an alumni who finally found himself a job off the listings we keep directly on our departmental site. Although this might not apply to every collegiate department, ours has a very robust alumni network, arguably the biggest and most connected in aviation. In order to stay relevant to this segment of our audience we’ve put a free jobs board on our site allowing both departmental employees and other site visitors to post jobs relevant to our students’ training. Over the years I’ve taken a lot of flack for this and have never heard much back other than word of mouth. Having a higher-up receive a letter of thanks for this service not only validated the board itself but perhaps also earned us a donor in the future.

All in all I would say these situations, along with countless others exemplify the many benefits of using a CMS on even a small site. While I know for the most part I’m preaching to the choir on this topic hopefully this idea will eventually make it through to the holdouts and help provide all with sites that are more useful for more people.