5.3 Technology Funding - Teaching, Learning, Technology Roundtable - St. Cloud State University


5.3 Technology Funding


Different forms of technology have various life spans. A kiln, a microscope, a piano, and a Skinner box might reasonably be expected to have a useful life of 20 or more years. In most cases, non-computing technology in a building on campus is directly correlated with the age of the building. In the Mathematics & Science Center building, most equipment is 30 years old; the building was occupied in 1972. The equipment in the Engineering & Computing Center building is about 12 years old; the building was expanded and remodeled in 1991. Imagine the computer technology in the Miller Center being the same in 2010 as when the building opened in 2000.

Computer/information technology hardware/software — whose use on campus is widespread and whose presence is ubiquitous — has a useful life that is relatively short. Because of this, technology resources continue to take an increasingly larger slice out of SCSU budgets. Acquisition of this hardware certainly is, at first, a large percentage of the total cost of ownership (TCO). Typically, during the first year of ownership, the hardware comprises 36% of the TCO; by the fifth year of ownership, however, this percentage has fallen to 19% (http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/html/cnc9807/cnc9807.html#_Toc437594077). The cost of technology resources is not restricted to the acquisition of the hardware/software but also includes the essential associated costs of technical support, continuous training, infrastructural connectivity, and a higher rate of replacement. (See breakdowns of these costs at the Educause site listed above or in the Virginia Department of Education plan at http://www.pen.k12.va.us/VDOE/Technology/TCO-58-68.PDF).

Currently, technology is paid for out of a mixture of sources:

  • student technology fees
  • some university-wide accounts
  • college and/or departmental-level equipment funds
  • donor and foundation sources
  • grants and contracts
  • employees' personal funds.
In some areas, SCSU has budgeted well to attend to the total cost of ownership of hardware, software, and associated technologies. In other areas, success has been less apparent.

A stable funding source. A stable funding source for base level technologies is as important to employee, instruction, and learner success as is the assurance that we have budgeted for telephones.

Emerging technology. At Research I universities, "pushing the outside of the envelope" is the expected level of technology. That is not the case at SCSU, but awareness of what new technologies are "in development" will allow us some sense of how these emerging technologies might fit in the near future. Toward that end, a pool of money to experiment with emerging technologies is crucial to SCSU’s ability to stay apprised of the new technologies that our future students will demand.

Total cost of ownership. As will be iterated in many of the subsequent sections of this technology plan, associated costs — including training, replacement, repair and maintenance, support staff, etc. — are essential considerations in the overall budgeting process.


To assure adequate technologies and services as defined in other sections of this plan, SCSU should in the next five years:

  • review the current funding sources for technology
  • review replacement cycles for technology
  • examine cost efficiencies from standardized purchasing and procurement
  • develop a plan to stabilize funding for base-level technologies that takes into account associated costs (i.e., total cost of ownership)
  • develop a plan to procure and distribute monies for new technologies
  • continue to solicit external funding for technology initiatives

Specific Actions and Timeline

A committee including representatives of faculty, staff, and students will be established to address technology funding on campus. The committee will follow the standard timeline (see 5.0) for carrying out and reporting on specific actions. Because of the pace at which technology evolves, evaluations must be flexible and reflect emerging technology in a context practical for SCSU. The scope of understanding the internal budgetary structure and costs associated with all aspects of technology — acquisition of hardware/software, support, training, integration of systems, etc. (TCO) — may mean the committee will require more than one year to gain an acceptable understanding of current conditions in order to provide considered recommendations for the future.


The resources to complete funding goals of this plan will require a considerable amount of time for committee members. Once their recommendations are in place, resources might be shifted across budget categories, new resource needs might be identified, or other purchasing/leasing options might need to be explored.


  • Have the current funding sources for technology been determined?
  • Has the current replacement cycle for technology been reviewed?
  • Has a cost benefit analysis of standardized purchasing been developed?
  • Is a plan in place to assure stable funding for base level technologies?
  • Is a plan in place for funding new technologies?
  • Are external funds being solicited for technology?
  • Has the committee produced a final report in 2007/2008 and developed recommendations relative to technology funding for the next cycle of technology planning?

Revised: May 2003