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Announcing the 2021 Higher Education Advisory Council

By Guest Author April 8, 2021

By: Dr. Phillip Knutel, Vice President & Chief Information Officer, Babson College and 2021 Chair, Higher Education Advisory Council

It’s my pleasure to introduce the officers and members of the 2021 Higher Education Advisory Council (HEAC). We have 18 returning members and six new members this year, all of whom are innovative Trailblazers! I would like to both welcome our new members and extend my sincere thanks to those rolling off the HEAC, who join our Alumni community. 

Headshots of new HEAC members

New members of the 2021 HEAC team.

In case you’re not familiar with us, the Council works with and the higher ed community to recognize and set common standards for the delivery of platform solutions to support higher ed. We do this by:

  • Leveraging our collective higher ed and Salesforce expertise to make a difference on our campuses
  • Maintaining a collaborative community that shares code, best practices, and documentation
  • Identifying needs and advocating for solutions
  • Connecting with new and prospective higher ed customers
  • Participating in outreach efforts through webinars, blogs, Education Summit and Dreamforce presentations, etc.
  • Recognizing the diversity of functionalities and needs of higher ed institutions

This last bullet is one of our cornerstones of success. Understanding the power of having a diverse group working together, we try to populate the Council with a variety of perspectives. We seek representation from different types of campuses — from large public universities to small private schools. 

We also want a variety of contributors on the Council, so we seek out applicants each year from different roles and levels within their schools, furthering our goal of hosting rich conversations, targeting new and ongoing issues to focus on, and providing solutions that address problems from multiple viewpoints. We’re engaging now more than ever with our peers from across the globe. In fact, last year, our European, Middle Eastern, and African higher ed colleagues formed the EMEA Higher Education Advisory Council

 Group of people posing for a picture

At our last in-person Dreamforce (2019), the Higher Education Advisory Council welcomed members of the newly-founded EMEA Higher Education Advisory Council.

More Than Advisory

Despite our name, we do much more than advise! We are an action-oriented, highly committed group doing our best to improve the Salesforce experience at colleges and universities. We regularly share best practices, answer questions from our constituency and Salesforce, plan events, and organize demos. 

However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, we also aim to support and inspire one another as we all brave uncharted waters together. Budgets have been frozen at best and significantly cut at worst, challenging all of us to do more with less over the past year and likely in the coming year as uncertainty continues. None of us is in this alone, and it’s critical during these times to lean on and learn from one another.

Can We Help You?

While many HEAC members are active in the Power of Us Hub and Trailblazer Community, on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn; the majority regularly support their colleagues through far less public phone calls, web conferences, and even in-person meetings at events (which we look forward to in a post-COVID world). Check out our member profiles to see what we’re up to at our home campuses and what expertise or experience we may be able to offer, then feel free to email or call us directly.

Large group of people smiling and posing for a picture

Council members work with staff at #DF19.

There are myriad other ways we support our community, from Higher Ed Office Hours and Higher Education User Groups, sessions at Dreamforce and Education Summit, webinars and guest blogs, and The PodCACHE. Couldn’t get into a sold out Dreamforce session? Check it out on the YouTube channel, where you can also see what HEAC members have been up to at their respective institutions. We also have working groups that are aligned each year with the Council’s interests and’s strategic initiatives.

Spotting Us backpack sitting on the ground

When we do return to in-person Salesforce events, such as Education Summit and Dreamforce, you can identify Higher Ed Advisory Council members by their blue lanyards and gray backpacks.

Because the Council works closely with and is supported by, HEAC members sport our signature blue lanyards and gray backpacks at events. Council members are selected due to our ability to engage and support our higher ed colleagues, so please don’t hesitate to strike up a conversation with us!

Join Us!

Those of us in the Council collaborate with our partners at to provide feedback on products, pricing, roadmaps, and word-on-the-street issues of concern in the higher ed community. Of course, anyone at colleges and universities working with, or directly on, the platform undoubtedly discovers opportunities for improvement — be it technically, with feature sets, new use cases, pricing and contracts, etc. 

One of the most unique (and wonderful!) aspects of working in higher education is that, while we may compete for students to attend our particular institution, we operate as a public service community that supports student learning and faculty scholarship. We’re all trying to make the world a better place. Thus, there’s a good chance you went into a career in higher ed because you support these ideals and, at your core, you enjoy helping others. If this sort of service orientation describes you, I’d like to invite you to take a further step and apply for HEAC membership.

Learn more about our other Higher Ed Advisory Councils, including the EMEA HEAC and the Community & Technical College HEAC.

About the Author

Dr. Phillip Knutel, Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Babson College

Dr. Phillip Knutel
Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Babson College

Dr. Phillip Knutel is the vice president and chief information officer of Babson College. Prior to his current role, he was the chief information officer (CIO) at Bentley University. He holds a BS magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University, an EdM from Harvard University, and PhD in higher education administration from the University of Michigan.