November 3, 2018
Higher Ed: we're the land of alphabet soup, especially at the executive level. For instance,
We've got our CAO's -- Chief Academic Officer.
Most of us have CIO's -- Chief Information Officer, but now we are told
"You need another CIO -- Chief Innovation Officer."
We've been told that the CDO--Chief Diversity Officer -- is the new path to being the head Chief (President).
But you now might need to think of a CEIO--Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer, who will do so much more than simply diversifying.
Let's just complete our alphabet soup. Almost all of these are titles that you can find somewhere (although to be fair not always in higher education. I'll let you guess at the handful that I made up.)
CAO--Chief Academic Officer (a rare case where we try to make things clearer: Provost leaves people puzzled.)
CBO--Chief Business Officer (because apparently Chief Financial Officer isn't enough.)
CCO--Chief Chaos Officer (they are usually self-appointed from within the ranks.)
CDO--Chief Diversity Officer (shouldn't a "diversity" officer argue against "chief" as part of the title?)
CEO--Chief Executive Officer (as if anyone can really manage a bunch of executives.)
CFO--Chief Financial Officer (the one office that should fight this trend of chief-making the hardest.)
CGO--Chief Green Officer (not the newbie, the one who is supposed to make us environmentally sustainable.)
CHO -- Chief Happiness Officer (almost always existing within, paradoxically, the human resources department.)
CIO -- Chief Information Officer (for now, can win out over Chief Innovations Officer.)
CJO -- Chief Judicial Officer (for all those student conduct hearings.)
CKO -- Chief Kleptocracy Officer (for protection of all these officers.)
CLO -- Chief Learning Officer (o.k., now I have gone too far!)
CMO -- Chief Media Officer (after all, sounds so much better than PR guy.)
CNO --Chief Neologism Officer (someone has to stay on top of these trendy titles.)
COO -- Chief Operating Officer (you ever wonder what doesn't count as operations?)
CPO -- Chief Petty Officer (it has a whole new meaning in higher education than it does in the Navy.)
CQO -- Chief Quality Officer (sometimes expanded to be the CQEO Chief Quality and Effectiveness Officer.)
CRO -- Chief Records Officer (because Registrar means absolutely nothing to anyone outside of Higher Ed.)
CSO -- Chief Sales Officer (someone has to be accountable for the revenue needed to pay all these officers.)
CTO -- Chief Transformation Officer (a tough position to hold because you need to transition the position out.)
CUO -- Chief Underwriting Officer (after all higher ed is nothing but a risk management business now.)
CVO -- Chief Volunteer Officer (we aren't going to be able to pay people to do the real work with all of these executive salaries.)
CWO -- Chief Web Officer (these workers may rebel at this title; "Webmaster" sounds so much cooler!)
CXO -- Chief X-Axis Officer (one of two new officers for Institutional Research [see below]. Someone's gotta make those graphs on the Institutional Report Card more confusing.)
CYO-- Chief Y-Axis Officer (see Chief X-Axis Officer. Contrary to hiring practices, these positions don't always fall on the y-chromosone-axis.)
CZO -- Chief Zeitgeist Officer (someone has to be accountable for culture.)
Much of this administrative bloat comes from legislative demand, either directly or indirectly. This whole "equity" movement is fairly recent and ties to the accountability metrics of retaining and graduating students who may face barriers other students don't face as they enter college. Others, such as related to "quality" are more self-inflicted; we claim they come from legislative mandate, but they are more the whims of professional spin doctors.
As I look at this, I am less embarrassed that we create so many officers. It's that we still so blatantly use the term "Chief." I much prefer "Head," but that is probably a path we shouldn't go down.
*Call-out to obscure XTC b-side