Farhat J. (Meena) Lakhavani

Farhat J. (Meena) Lakhavani
CIO and Vice Provost, Information Technology, Erie Community College
State University of New York

Last Updated: 09/21/2017

Executive Summary

Farhat (Meena) Lakhavani was named CIO and Vice Provost for Information Technology at the State University of New York (SUNY) - Erie Community College (ECC) in early 2017. Before that, she was serving as CIO and Associate VP for Information Technology. Prior to joining ECC in 2016, she held various positions at Carnegie Mellon University over period of 28 years -- from Manager of Research Computing to the Director of Academic Technology Services Strategy. She has also taught in the undergraduate, graduate and executive programs at Carnegie Mellon University and at the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to joining Carnegie Mellon University, she was a Senior Scientist with Westinghouse Electric Corporation.

Personal Attributes and Interests

  • Lakhavani is married and has children.
  • She also speaks Arabic, Punjabi, Sindhi and Urdu.
  • Since 2000, she serves as a Participant at Common Solutions Group
  • Between 1986 and 1998, she was an Adjunct Professor for Industrial Administration at Carnegie Mellon University.
  • She has completed the college management program and Heinz Executive Program from Carnegie Mellon University and also completed the Executive Education in Personal Leadership Program which includes Driving Strategic Initiatives, Personal Leadership and Personal Leadership - Next Chapter from the Columbia University in the City of New York.
  • She actively participates in various national organizations and has served on national advisory committees such as the EDUCAUSE Professional Advisory Committee.
  • Lakhavani has presented her work at national and international conferences and has published extensively.

Current Focus

  • College snapshot: Erie Community College (ECC) is a two-year community college that is part of the 64-campus State University of New York (SUNY) system, and serves Erie County and the surrounding communities of western New York. ECC has three campuses - North Campus in Williamsville; City Campus in Buffalo; and South Campus in Orchard Park. It has about 10,000 students at its three campuses. 
  • Primary responsibilities: Lakhavani is responsible for engaging with key stakeholders and external partners to define and develop IT services that support the mission and vision of ECC. She is also responsible for leading transformational change within the institution.
  • Information Technology Services: Erie Community College provides computing resources and support for all students through Information Technology Services (ITS), part of Student Services. ITS supports over 60 computer labs on campus, online resource, access to software, and email and internet accounts. Students access their information through a MyECC portal. 
  • Installing Workday ERP: In May 2017 the ECC Board of Trustees approved a Resolution regarding the installation of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software - a 5 year long project. Approved costs include: Software subscription costs, implementation costs, additional staffing costs, additional required software costs, and 20% discretionary cost. The ERP will provide Support for the administrative functions supporting Human Resources, Payroll Finance and Support for all Student Services functions. The system selected (out of three final candidates) was Workday and the reasons were given as follows: "The Workday System provides a simple and efficient end user navigation experience to employees and students." According to meeting documents, "This multi-year project represents a total subscription fee of $1,642,360. The 2017-18 estimated cost of the project is estimated at $2,421,721." Lakhavani is the contact person on the ECC Master Agreement with Workday and according to the minutes from a May 2017 Board of Trustees meeting, "Meena Lakhavani did a 10-year projection of what it would cost to go with Workday or stay with the current system. Meena reported that going with the new system would save approximately $3.7 million. She agreed to send a copy of the projections to all trustees."
  • IT program honored for excellence: ECC’s Information Technology Program was honored as the Best Tech Team in Non-Profit/Education by InfoTech WNY as part of the organization’s annual Buffalo Emerging Technology Awards Showcase (BETAS) at Buffalo RiverWorks on May 4, 2017. “This award is exciting news for a program that’s been thriving for years,” said ECC President Jack Quinn. “Its faculty and staff have done a tremendous job in preparing our students for technology careers across Western New York, so this acknowledgement is deserved, and much appreciated.” According to ECC, competing in a category that included fellow nominees BlueCross BlueShield, PMI Buffalo, local fundraising software developer WeDidIt, and University at Buffalo’s Department of Electrical Engineering, ECC’s Information Technology Program and its work with career-focused students earned the BETA. ECC’s A.A.S. in Information Technology is a seated and online degree. 
  • ECC strategic plan:  ECC Excels – the Strategic Plan for Erie Community College for 2017-2021 - consists of five major pillars: Access, Completion, Engagement, Operations and Success. Each of the pillars addressing some aspect of student achievement focused on ECC's mission:
    1. "Access: providing Erie County with high-quality educational services in multiple modalities and locations while being fully representative of all segments of the diverse population of the county. Key Targets: 3% Annual Online Growth Rate; 18% Faculty Diversity Rate
    2. Completion: the fulfillment of students’ considered goals as they advance through the institution. For some students, completion means getting a degree. For others it means acquiring a specific skill. The college’s responsibility is a joint one, however, as students must engage with us in the shared pursuit of the fulfillment of those goals. Key Targets: 62% First-Time/Full-Time Retention Rate; 2,300 Degrees Awarded Annually
    3. Engagement: the interaction with our region, communities, and neighbors both inside and outside ECC’s walls. ECC’s relationship to its community and surrounding neighborhoods is essential to our identity. As we seek to serve the people of Erie County, we must find ways to engage our workforce and industry partners while also engaging in philanthropy, service learning, internships, and building a collegial working environment. Key Targets: 1 START-UP NY Firm Each Year; Increase to $1.5 Million in Annual Funds Raised
    4. Operations: the effectiveness and efficiency of our physical plant, finances, and technology. ECC seeks to be an effective and an efficient institution with responsible finances, updated facilities, and a culture of continuous improvement. Key Targets: Establish Facilities Master Plan; Maintain Low Administrative Overhead
    5. Success: the capacity of our students to achieve their post-ECC goals, whether these goals be in the area of continuing education, direct entry into the workforce, successful skills training, or personal growth. Key Targets: Achieve 57% SUNY Success Rate; Integrate Transfer Counseling during Intake"

Biographical Highlights

  • Lakhavani was born on February 4.
  • She holds an A.S. degree from St. Lawrence College.
  • She also holds a BA degree in history and political science from University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan (1971-1974) and a MS degree in computer science from the University of Pittsburgh (1979-1982).  
  • She has also completed doctoral course work in computer science at the University of Pittsburgh.
  • She served as Senior Computer Scientist at Westinghouse Electric Company from 1980 to 1985.
  • In 1986, she joined Carnegie Mellon University and has held the following positions:
    - Manager, Research Computing
    - Executive Director, Information and Computing (1986-1997)
    - Director, User and Educational Services (1997-2008)
    - Director, Academic Technology Services Strategy (2008-2014)
  • From 2015 to 2016, she served as Independent Management Consultant at Information Technology & Services.
  • In 2016, Lakhavani joined State University of New York and has since held the following positions:
    - CIO and Associate VP, Information Technology, Erie Community College (September 2016-December 2016)
    - CIO and Vice Provost, Information Technology, Erie Community College (2017-Present)

Other Boards and Organizations

  • Former Member, Professional Development Advisory Committee, EDUCAUSE (2005-2008)
  • Member, EDUCAUSE (2000-Present)
  • Member, Educational Learning Institute (ELI) (2007-Present)

Contact Information

121 Ellicott St.
Buffalo, NY, 14203
United States



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