CIO and Associate Vice President for IT, Guilford Technical Community College
Ron Horn is the associate vice president for IT and CIO for Guilford Technical Community College (GTCC).
“I currently oversee about 30 permanent employees in the areas of infrastructure, security, networking, telephony service, delivery, application support and project management.”
Guilford Technical Community College (GTCC) is one of the largest community colleges in the US state of North Carolina, typically ranking fourth for the largest community college in the state, with nearly 27,000 registered students annually.
“We've been around since the late 50s,” says Horn. “There are five campuses here in Guilford County, which is part of, what they call 'the triad' region. Our programs include many traditional education opportunities, like associate and transfer degrees. But we also offer many skilled-trade options, like advanced manufacturing, CDL or truck-driving training, welding, automotive, healthcare and also, quite uniquely, we have aviation, with a large aviation program that's still growing.”
Horn says: “I have taken advantage of the opportunity to be able to contribute from a very non-traditional CIO perspective, bringing outstanding programs to the school – like 3D printing, autonomous vehicles, blockchain and micro-credentials or micro-certifications, Amazon web services (AWS) – and we have been partnering with agencies that are geared much more towards the community college environment.”
This innovative development also acts as a bridge between the ‘community’ and ‘technical’ aspect of GTCC, combining the social orientation of the spirit of a community college with innovation, so that both ends of the equation may benefit.
“We have a large student population who suffer financially,” says Horn. “They don't have the financial resources that are available to a lot of students in other circumstances. We noticed, especially when the pandemic came around, that there was a large drop-off in a certain male sector of students, and soon discovered that they weren't re-enrolling because they had to go back to work, because other household members were now unemployed due to COVID.”
As CIO, Horn knows, of course, that behind the people – whether they be student or staff member – there is a technological and informational highway that allows them to connect and thrive in GTCC’s environment. And, precisely because of those technologies and innovations, the very concept of the educational environment expands beyond its mere physical boundaries, redefining the educational milieu altogether.
Speaking on the college’s partner ecosystem, Horn underlines that, most importantly, GTCC looks for organizations that closely understand GTCC’s business, strategy, audience and customers.
“What we are specifically looking for is alignment,” he says. “We don't want a company that we just write a check to every month or year. Vendor partners mean something to us; they are organizations that we have frequent conversations and meetings with, and where we talk about strategy.
“And I think that's one of the things that we saw with Arctic Wolf.”
Arctic Wolf provides a critical managed detection and response (MDR) framework, playing a crucial role in the cybersecurity and risk management of GTCC’s systems.
Horn says: “Arctic Wolf is an organisation that I could have those conversations with and that I developed those relationships with, so that they understand who we are, what our mission is, what our focus is and where we're going.”
GTCC will continue to focus on the automation, simplification and standardization of their tool sets, and will focus on decreasing such overheads – from a staffing-resources perspective – so that they can focus on further innovation and on dreaming up new ways and systems to enhance innovations at the college.
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