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Changes in Higher Education and The Information Marketplace

Virtual Conference

Pressures on institutions of higher education in the United States became weightier in 2020, as universities and colleges of all sizes dealt with COVID-19. There was a focus on de-densifying campuses and adapting to a different type of pedagogy. Looking ahead to the next academic year, reductions in funding will severely constrict the work of extended state systems. Institutions face a shrinking pool of qualified student applicants. There will be heightened competition for research grants. Donations and endowments must be secured and guarded.

At the same time, there is new familiarity with educational technology, gains made through adoption of new infrastructure. Open educational resources, online learning and deepened digital engagement are positioned to become the norm. How does all of this impact on the long-term strategic planning for libraries and the providers that serve them? This event will gather key decision-makers from a variety of constituencies to address the "new normal" and consider the long-term implications for participating stakeholders.

Confirmed participants include:

  • Linda Jones, Provost, Western New England University
  • Dean O. Smith, Professor Emeritus, University of Hawaii, & Author of How University Budgets Work (2019, JHU Press)
  • Dennis Clark, Dean of the Library, University of Arkansas
  • Amy Pawlowski, Interim Executive Director, OhioLINK
  • Ralph Youngen, Senior Director, Digital Strategies, American Chemical Society
  • Roger Schonfeld, Director, Libraries, Scholarly Communication, and Museums program, Ithaka

Event Sessions

12:15pm - 12:45pm There is Hope - A View from the Provost’s Office


Advancing personalized learning is considered one of the Grand Challenges of Engineering, as significant as access to clean water and sequestering CO2.   Our response and recovery from the  COVID - 19 crisis has forced academic communities to address the unique needs of individual learners as a result of the imperative to deliver an education at  a distance.  We have had to move at an unprecedented pace so much so that what we thought we would have to address and deliver in 2040 actually needs to be in place this fall (2020).  

In a matter of one-week, higher education broadly went from an in-person delivery model to entirely remote.  On-line, virtual, synchronous, asynchronous, HyFlex…learning at a distance from each other is not how most of us have understood teaching to be in a teaching university.  The institutional imperative is to safeguard the mission of the university, protect our community of students, faculty and staff, and ensure financial security.  In this moment we must seize the opportunity to address personalized learning by solving the issues of inequality and inclusion in remote learning environments, educating faculty and staff, using tools that advance access enabling educators and empowering students.  

Managing in this moment is unique because there is no clear end point.  All aspects of the institution are affected and everyone has to be a crisis manager down to the finest detail.  In this moment there has been a need to balance an engaged response to the crisis and to develop a vision and action plan for recovery.  We are at times overwhelmed, yet in all of this disruption, opportunities exist and one that is evident is the move away from incrementally understanding of how students learn and to that of seizing opportunity to embrace personalized learning through pivoting, retooling, and continuing to motivate faculty and staff,  in order to deliver a rich and meaningful educational experience to our students.

This presentation is intended to present the challenges that face a relatively small private comprehensive teaching institution that draws students regionally.   Detail regarding our response to the crisis and our plans being put into place for the next academic year will be given.  Changes that will likely remain in placed well beyond the COVID 19 pandemic will be underscored. 

12:45pm - 1:15pm Changes in Higher Education and the Information Marketplace Financial Pressures in Higher Education


The COVID-19 pandemic has destabilized university finances. Administrative responses to lost income during a financial crisis follow a fairly standard protocol. Typically, the first response is to slash discretionary expenditures: stop unnecessary travel, defer routine maintenance, freeze hiring, et cetera. Discretionary rainy-day reserve account may cover several months of normal operating expenses. The university also may withdraw any unrestricted funds that it has deposited into the endowment. A desperate university can dip into its restricted endowment principal during a demonstrably dire emergency. These modest short-term steps slow cash outflow but seldom solve the financial problem. Ultimately, to stabilize their finances, universities must reduce core expenditures: suspend contributions contributions to employee retirement accounts and reduce personnel salaries through lay-offs, furloughs, and decreased appointment levels. As a last resort, universities declare a financial exigency, signaling that they no longer have the funds to meet salary obligations to tenured faculty members. Practically, it implies termination of tenured faculty and academic programs. Notably, universities may retain administrators to ensure compliance with regulations imposed by federal agencies and to raise money. The overall economic meltdown confers two potential financial benefits for most universities: enrollment levels generally increase as economic conditions decrease and the cost of borrowing money decreases as interest rates decrease. After the COVID-19 pandemic has passed, universities must realign budgets with post-pandemic strategic priorities.  Ironically, this may provide opportunities for profound change, updating academic priorities, business models, and operational strategies.

1:15pm - 1:45pm This Changes Everything: Pandemic Response, Libraries, and Defining a New Normal.


The current pandemic has laid bare many of the assumptions made about the intrinsic value of academic and research libraries. How can those libraries meet the challenge of the new normal while embracing, even strengthening, their core missions?  What practices and polciies can now be discarded, and what should take those places?

1:45pm - 2:00pm Break

2:00pm - 2:30pm COVID-19: What it means for OhioLINK, its Members’ Library Budgets, and E-resources in Higher Education


In early May, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced the State will cut nearly $800 million in spending for fiscal year 2020 to offset the loss of tax revenue stemming from the coronavirus crisis. This announcement made clear organizations across the state would need to immediately plan for inevitable budget shortfalls. For OhioLINK, even amid shortfalls, its plan includes prioritizing and preserving e-resources necessary for successful learning in a higher education environment that has moved almost entirely online—as well as planning for the delivery of physical services in an entirely new way. In this session, Amy Pawlowski, interim executive director, outlines how OhioLINK is approaching these shortfalls while being mindful of member library budgets and what it may mean for licensing of content—all the while keeping students at the forefront.  

2:30pm - 3:00pm Secure Remote Access to Scholarly Resources


Ralph Youngen

Senior Director, Digital Strategy
American Chemical Society.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced higher education to into a wholesale, sudden shift to remote operations.  Now more than ever researchers need convenient access to authentic scholarly resources regardless of one’s physical location or type of device.  Barriers to access can drive faculty and students to seek scholarly content from illicit sources, potentially risking their digital security and compromising their research efforts.  Times of disruption present opportunities for increased criminal activity. University patrons working remotely, often beyond any digital security measures provided on campus, present a prime target.  Community-driven efforts to build secure, streamlined pathways to authentic scholarly content are now beginning to bear fruit, such as the NISO-sponsored RA21 initiative and its operational successor SeamlessAccess, as well as the publisher-supported GetFTR service.  Working together, the academic library community, campus IT, and scholarly publishers can provide secure remote access to scholarly resources while maintaining the privacy and security of university patrons.

3:00pm – 3:30pm Strategies for the Information Community


Roger Schonfeld

Director, Libraries, Scholarly Communication, and Museums
Ithaka S+R

What will be the long-term impact on higher education and how might libraries, information providers, and others adapt to this new marketplace?

Additional Information

  • Registrants will receive detailed instructions about accessing the archived recording within one business day. Due to the widespread use of spam blockers, filters, out of office messages, etc., we ask that you contact the NISO office at if you do not receive these instructions in a timely fashion. This recording access is only to be used by the registrant's organization.

  • Speaker presentation slides are posted to this event webpage following the live broadcast.

For Online Events

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  • If you have questions or concerns regarding this registration, please contact NISO headquarters via email to We appreciate your interest and hope that you will gain valuable insight from our speakers.