Farhat J. (Meena) Lakhavani

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

Last Updated: 09/17/2018

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 SUNY Erie in 2016, she held various positions at Carnegie Mellon University over a 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 has been a participant in 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: SUNY Erie 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. SUNY Erie 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: SUNY Erie 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. 
  • New Computer Systems: July 2018 marked one year since SUNY Erie began installing new administrative computer systems in a project that will take several years to complete.  The Buffalo News reported that college officials anticipate spending more than $7 million over the next five years to implement new systems for administering human resources, payroll, finance, student registration, financial aid and other student services. Erie County legislators had to approve the college's plan to contract with IBM and Workday for the project.  The college's current Ellucian Colleague software system is about 30 years old and is too outdated to be effective anymore, ECC officials said. "Of course we have been upgrading it as we go along, but it has been patched up with band-aids," said Lakhavani. "We are spending so much time fixing things instead of actually doing the work." The new system ultimately will end up saving the college $3.7 million in subscription fees over the course of 10 years. Those projected savings don’t include other savings that will result from increased efficiencies and functionality, Lakhavani said.  Legislator Edward A. Rath III, R-Amherst, said he was concerned that the Workday software package that ECC officials chose was not the same software used by most colleges and universities within the State University of New York system.  ECC officials said Workday has a proven track record with higher education institutions and major corporations. The company, they added, was chosen through a thorough request-for-proposals process. ECC board members selected Workday over two other potential vendors, Banner and Oracle.
  • IT Program Honored for Excellence: SUNY Erie'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 back in 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 SUNY Erie 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"
  • Partnership for Student Veterans: Daemen College and SUNY Erie Community College (SUNY Erie) formed a new educational partnership in March 2018 designed to provide student veterans and military aligned students a seamless transition from earning a SUNY Erie associate’s degree to completing a bachelor’s degree at Daemen.  Under the new agreement, student veterans and military aligned students may apply to the dual admission program at the time of submitting their SUNY Erie application or prior to completing 30 credits. Students will be eligible for transfer admission into parallel degree programs at Daemen upon completion of a SUNY Erie associate’s degree and have also met the required minimum grade point average for admission to the college.       

Biographical Highlights

  • Lakhavani was born on February 4.
  • She holds an A.S. degree from St. Lawrence College.
  • Lakhavani also holds a BA degree in History and Political Science from the University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan (1971-1974) and an 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.
  • Lakhavani served as Senior Computer Scientist at Westinghouse Electric Company from 1980 to 1985.
  • In 1986, Lakhavani joined Carnegie Mellon University and 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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