Mark E. Henderson, Ed.D.
Henderson started his early educational career at a community college and says he is honored to now service others as the IT manager of Pierce College - a part of the larger Los Angeles Community College District - and help them reach their own academic and educational goals.
“The community college system to me is an important thread in the higher education call for success,” says Henderson. “I always try to put the student first because I believe the student is the core of why we are here.”
Ensuring his department is tied into the educational mission of the institution is an important goal for Henderson, who believes IT is not just a back-office function, but is an opportunity to help students succeed. For the past two years he has served as the chair of the college’s technology committee, where he works to create a more collaborative spirit among IT services and to better communicate IT activities with the rest of the institution. For the latter, Henderson holds IT open houses so educators and administrators can learn about the projects IT is working on and also understand how the IT department can help them use technology. He says it’s common for people to be surprised at the work IT is doing.
“We may have thought we were communicating, but when you ask questions you realize people weren’t aware or they will say ‘I had no idea you guys were doing that,’” he says.
Another goal of Henderson’s is to continuously focus on tying IT goals to the overall mission of the enterprise, which is ultimately improving student learning and success. “Sometimes we get bright ideas and become consumed by them, but later you realize it has nothing to do with why you are here,” says Henderson. “I always try to make sure that my efforts and the goals of the department are in alignment with the organization’s mission - that way you never lose sight of what you are doing.”
At the same time, he thinks educational leaders should look to IT for more than “1s and 0s,” pointing out that technology professionals are excellent strategic thinkers and can provide additional benefits to the institution. “We have soft skills that people don’t think we have. We have the ability and the flexibility to understand every function within our organization and we understand how to maximize and optimize those functions with the use of technology.”
Henderson says his department is currently focused on pushing the classroom as close to the student as possible by providing distributed and virtual environments for 24/7 learning. “Learning doesn’t just happen from 8 to 5 when a student is on campus,” he says. “It could happen at a remote location, at home, on the bus or on the train. We want to make sure our systems can bring the learning experience all the way out to the student.”