Cornell’s unique CMS/CRM solution unifies the student experience

The Ivy League university knit together Drupal and Salesforce to create a university-wide system of engagement centered on the student experience.

Cornell’s unique CMS/CRM solution unifies the student experience

As an Ivy League institution, Cornell University’s main mission is to “educate the next generation of global citizens and promote a culture of broad inquiry throughout and beyond the Cornell community.”

A lofty purpose, and one the university found increasingly difficult to quantify and measure. Cornell enrolls more than 20,000 students and offers thousands of co-curricular opportunities, such as study abroad, research, fellowships, engaged learning, and professional development. But students struggled to find and apply for these programs, and administrators found it difficult to promote these opportunities, manage applicants and measure participation and impact.

The issue? Each program was housed with its own website, application, marketing, program management and tracking tools. So Cornell’s IT department decided to remake its stack, with a shift in emphasis on the student as customer.

“If we were an enterprise, we’d have twenty thousand high-paying ‘customers’ here — and there’s no company in the world that would have this kind of customer base and not want to engage with them to understand their experience,” says Rebecca Joffrey, IT innovation officer at Cornell.

Enterprise best practices suggest using customer experience and engagement tools to quantify and measure experience and impact, but that technology isn’t widely used in higher education, says Vicky Mikula, assistant director of commercial and collaboration applications at Cornell.

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