About the Higher Education Systems & Services Consortium


At Bellarmine University in Louisville, KY on June 5, 2014, a meeting of CFOs and CIOs from 40+ institutions and state associations called "The Administrative Systems Forum" took place. We realized that, throughout the country, private college/university Chief Business Officers (CBO) and Chief Information/Technology Officers (CIO) are mutually charged with providing mission critical administrative services in an environment of almost flat, if not decreasing, net revenues. We are asked to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of administrative software services and related information technology to meet the increasing needs of diverse users while minimizing the resources used. Together, we are working in lockstep with our Presidents to determine how our tasks can best be accomplished, what marketplace options may be available to better meet out needs, and what innovative solutions are being implemented in our sector across the country.

Most of the major administrative software vendors (including Ellucian, Jenzabar, Campus Management, and others) are in the process of redeveloping their products and subsequently restructuring their pricing models. New opportunities for collaborative pricing of vendor software, consultative services, Software-as-a-Service, Cloud Services and even shared services exist now and will continue to grow in the future. At the first Forum meeting, we heard from colleagues whom have already successfully implemented many of these collaborative cost-saving solutions and others who are ready to explore new partnerships and ways of doing business. This conference was not sponsored by, nor will be attended by, vendors providing a forum free from the distraction of sales representatives.

Attendees were invited to bring ideas, experience, questions and a willingness to have open-ended discussions with colleagues on a wide range of new solutions. The outcome was very positive from all the attendees and we are now working on next steps to discuss the formation of a new consortium focused on higher education ERP solutions, pricing and future emerging technologies that could change the way private institutions do business. If you are interested in becoming a part of this discussion to start a new ERP-focused consortium of private institutions, please register for an account here. Please note that only registrants from .edu contact email addresses and approved state associations will be given an account on this site to protect the membership from spam and unwanted advertising. Also, your information will not be shared to vendors or other outside sales entities.

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Today, the Higher Education Systems & Services Consortium or "The HESS Consortium" is a fully incorporated 501c3 non-profit, membership-run organization. The HESS Consortium is focused on collectively lowering costs and increasing collaboration between specifically private colleges and universities in the area of administrative systems and services.

The HESS Consortium is made up of chief financial officers, chief information officers as well as technology and finance directors in a diverse group of schools committed to finding efficiencies and cost savings by working with other like-minded institutions. Together, we realize that, throughout the country, private college/university Chief Business Officers (CBO) and Chief Information/Technology Officers (CIO) are mutually charged with providing mission critical administrative services in an environment of almost flat, if not decreasing, net revenues. We are asked to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of administrative software services and related information technology to meet the increasing needs of diverse users while minimizing the resources used.

We currently have strong relationships with major higher education ERP companies including: Campus Management, Inc., Ellucian, Jenzabar, Oracle, Unit4 and Workday.  Our individual cohorts are run by institutional leaders using ERP solutions from their respective companies.


The goals for our member-run consortium include 1.) vendor cohort teams to negotiate overall pricing for each of the major ERP vendors for both on-premise and in-the-cloud operations, 2.) develop an “apples-to-apples” comparison instrument to look at all the vendors’ pricing models and product features and 3.) begin to develop an affordable collaborative model for cloud-based operations as an option for those institutions interested.  Organizationally, we will be developing institutional support/collaboration between the vendor cohort groups as well as best practices discussions for CIOs, CFOs and technical staff professionals within vendor product cohorts as well as between member institutions.

Can I negotiate my pricing outside of the consortium while I am a part of HESS?

The overall goal for our consortium is to negotiate a fair cost for all the members collectively. HESS vendor cohorts negotiate product pricing with vendors based on the cohort FTE numbers for the total group of schools.  This allows most schools to see a strong overall savings within most all consortia.  What we do ask member institutions to do is stay true to the collective good of the consortium.  We strongly believe that, if individual members leave the consortium to get a better "one off" price, that member will succomb to predatory pricing just to see their costs increase significantly at a later time.  Members who would join and get a lower deal outside of the group would not be helping the full group of schools in the cohort.  For this reason, we do ask our members to take part in their cohorts to directly collaborate with the vendors for the best pricing and to be faithful to the bond between the institutions within the consortium.

How are pricing negotiated between member institutions and vendor software partners?

All pricing and features negotiations go on between the vendor cohort groups and the vendor software partner directly.  Vendor cohorts help develop RFP requirements and pricing standards and decide whether the features and pricing meet their individual institutional needs.  Cohorts have the ability to accept RFP responses or request changes to the vendor software partner request.  If an agreement cannot be made, the cohort has the ability to reject parts of the RFP response or reject the entire response.  While most institutions have a non-disclosure statement that limits indivual pricing from being shared, member institutions can communicate whether a submitted pricing layout from their vendor is helpful to their institution or not.  This is how cohorts can work together to find an optimal pricing model that is beneficial to all institutions in a vendor solution cohort.

All contracts with vendors are still done between the institutions and its vendor of choice.  HESS negotiates the pricing agreement but the institution continues to contract, communicate and work with their vendor of choice as usual under the HESS collaborative agreement.

Is the work of HESS all about vendor pricing negotiations?

Absolutely not.  While the HESS Consortium is concerned about pricing to member institutions, the group is also interested working more closely with vendor software partners to better collaborate on customer needs regarding features and future directions of the product- especially in cloud-based operations.  Most importantly, we want to work together internally to promote better collaboration, information/expertise sharing and collective innovation on many areas of administrative and academic operations.  We are starting the process of creating user forums and communities where administrative professionals can share their work and their questions with other professionals to collaborate and innovate on new collective solutions to operational automation and problems.

In short, we are interested in other private, non-profit colleges and universities who wish to support and aid each other in making our collective administrative operations better and more effective while finding new efficiencies.


If you would like for your private, non-profit higher education institution to become a part of the Higher Education Systems and Services Consortium, have an authorized member of your college or university to click here to fill out our institutional membership form online.  Membership fees are $499 annually. 

JOIN USIf you have additional questions about HESS membership, please contact us at info@hessconsortium.org.

Vendor-partners are selected through our HESS Consortium member community only. 

If you would like to get more information about becoming a HESS vendor-partner, please click here.

NOTE: As of February 30, 2017, HESS Consortium negotiated shared contracts are now completely voluntary to members.  If the contract does not meet your campus' needs or pricing goals, there is no obligation for you to take part BUT let us know so we can work harder to make it helpful to your institution!

Higher Education Systems and Services Consortium Board of Directors:

  • Board President, Bob Keasler, Shenandoah University (Vice President for Finance and Administration) 
  • Board Vice President, Keith Fowlkes, Centre College (Chief Information Officer) 
  • Board Secretary, Carol Smith, DePauw University (Chief Information Officer)
  • Board Treasurer, Mark Coleman, Lindsey Wilson College (Vice President for Administration and Finance)
  • Board Campus Management Cohort Chair, Paul Dupree, Asbury University (Chief Information Officer)
  • Board Ellucian Colleague Cohort Chair, Eric Satterly, Bellarmine University (Chief Information Officer)
  • Board Ellucian Banner Cohort Chair, Trey Short, Illinois Wesleyan University (Chief Information Officer)
  • Board Jenzabar EX Cohort Co-chairs, Penny Evans-Plants, Berry College (Chief Information Officer)
    & Dawn Houze, Hanover College (Director of Administrative Computing)
  • Board Jenzabar CX/JX Cohort Chair, Ray McCandless, The University of Findlay (Chief Information Officer)
  • Board Unit 4/CAMS/Three Rivers Cohort Chair, Trey Arrington, Spartanburg Methodist College (Chief Information Officer)
  • Board Co-Members-at-Large, Michael Boehm, Saint Mary's College- Notre Dame, IN (Chief Information Officer)
    Fred Miller, Wofford College (Chief Information Officer)

Thank you for your interest in our group and we hope to hear from you soon.

Our 87 member institutions include the following private institutions:

Agnes Scott College
Asbury University
Appalachian College of Pharmacy

Aquinas College
Augsburg College
Austin College
Averett University
Bellarmine University
Berry College
Bluefield College

Brenau University
Bryan College
Campbellsville University
Cedarville University

Centre College
Clafin University
Clarke University
Coker College
Columbia International University
Corban University
Covenant College
Cumberland University

DePauw University
Earlham College
Erskine College
Faulkner University
Flagler College
Franklin & Marshall College
Furman University
Georgetown College
Goshen College
Grinnell College
Hanover College
Haverford College
Illinois Wesleyan University
Knox College
LaGrange College 
Lindsey Wilson College
Lipscomb University
Lubbock Christian University
Lynchburg College
Manchester University

Mary Baldwin College
McDaniel College
Mercer University
Morningside College
Mount St. Joseph University
Muhlenberg College

North Central College
North Greenville University
Northwest Christian University
Ohio Dominican University

Ohio Northern University
Palmer College

Piedmont College
Presbyterian College
Prescott College
Queen's University, Charlotte
Rankin Technical College
Reinhardt University

Rhodes College
Roanoke College
University of Saint Francis

Saint Mary's College
Shenandoah University
Southern College of Optometry
Southwestern University
Spalding University
Spartanburg Methodist College
Spelman College
Susquehanna University
Sweet Briar College
Tennessee Wesleyan College
The University of Findlay
The University of Pikeville
Transylvania University
Trine University

Trinity University
Truett McConnell University

Union College - KY
Union University - TN
Wabash College
Wesleyan College

Wofford College
The College of Wooster

Our partnering state and organizational associations include: