UA Makes Impact at Higher Education Summit

April 24, 2019


Darcy Van Patten was on stage in front of 2,500 university professionals from across the country, a pre-keynote speaker at’s Higher Education Summit April 16–18, 2019. Only four months into developing Salesforce services for the University of Arizona—none of them yet launched—what did she say to the audience?

She explained that constituent relationship management isn’t only about becoming a more efficient operation. It’s about the university community becoming information sharers in ways we never knew we could.

This meshed perfectly with the "make change, make changemakers" message of the 7th annual summit. Co-hosted by and the University of San Diego, the two-and-a-half-day conference brought together attendees in downtown San Diego to exchange stories and connect with universities driving change through CRM.

A quarter of UA’s Trellis CRM team, plus representatives from Community & Government Relations, Advising, CALS, Eller, Financial Services, and other UA leaders, attended the summit to capture concrete examples of how peers from other institutions are leveraging Salesforce to improve outcomes. The summit also provided quality professional development for the team to understand how CRM can benefit higher education.

Darcy, UITS Executive Director for Student and Academic Technologies, also co-presented Tuesday’s breakout session “Going Enterprise at Speed and Scale” with Ryan Clemens, Salesforce Consulting Director for Huron Consulting Group. The duo covered UA’s start-up journey, adaptive roadmap and governance method, and bold vision to move forward an enterprise CRM strategy using startup methodologies.

The Trellis CRM team is using agile development. To turn the rapidly growing talent pool into an effective team, they are using processes like vocabulary norming (creating common definitions) and scrum training (orienting everyone to how the team works in short sprints). The session was listed on the agenda as an integration, best practices, and thought leadership topic that attracted many participants looking to follow UA’s journey.

Overall, the conference provided over 120 breakout sessions and workshops with topics relating to improving student engagement, recruitment, data governance, strategic partnerships, alumni relations, and more. Attendees were able to demo products, participate in Q&As, and schedule one-on-one appointments with consultants in the hotel quad. The event also hosted three well known keynote speakers–Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Tara Westover, and Admiral William H. McRaven–who each shared their personal experiences, challenges, and recollections of what higher education meant for them.

As a pre-keynote speaker on Wednesday, Darcy joined Salesforce Vice President of Strategic Research Peter Coffee and Senior Director for Huron Consulting Vince Salvato. In addition to talking about the change she anticipates CRM will bring to the UA, Darcy discussed the way CRM will reduce noise for today’s students, to help them get the information they really need, and how the project is recruiting the necessary talent to implement this initiative. This she summed up with, “Have compelling work and build important outcomes and I think talent will come.” Watch the full pre-keynote presentation., Huron Consulting, Sierra-Cedar, and World Wide Technology continue to be supporting partners for the UA’s Trellis program.

Last week, and Salesforce announced the merging of their two entities. This will simplify procurement for educational institutions, as they will no longer need to contract with two different entities for various features. See Salesforce’s full press release.