The origins of the HEUG date back to the late 1990s, when a handful of higher education institutions were beginning to implement PeopleSoft Financials and Human Resources systems.
In 1996, Clyde Morrell of Brigham Young University organized an initial meeting of those institutions at PeopleSoft’s Pleasanton headquarters.
At about the same time, PeopleSoft was starting to develop its Campus Solutions (Student Administration) product in collaboration with seven beta-partner institutions:
- California State University-LA
- Cornell University
- Houston Community College District
- James Madison University
- Northern Arizona University
- Southern Methodist University
- University of Michigan
Representatives of these institutions met quarterly with PeopleSoft staff during the next few years to provide the knowledge needed to define requirements and build the system. The beta schools were soon joined by an additional eleven “charter” institutions:
- Art Institute of Chicago
- Cleveland State University
- Emory University
- Northwestern University
- Santa Clara University
- Stony Brook University
- Syracuse University
- University of Minnesota
- University of Utah
- University of Western Ontario
- University of Wisconsin-Madison
In contrast to the beta institutions, the charter institutions had comparatively little input into the development of the Student Administration product. University of Utah and James Madison University were the first institutions to go live, in 1998.
By the time of the PeopleSoft Connect Conference (Fall 1997), there was enough of a critical mass for a Higher Education Special Interest Group (HESIG) to be formed, and that conference marked the first time that higher education representatives from all three product lines (Finance, HR, Student Administration) met together. The meeting attendees decided to establish a separate conference solely for PeopleSoft higher education customers.
That first HESIG conference was held in Dallas in March 1998 and was hosted by Southern Methodist University. The conference organizers had anticipated 200-300 attendees, but approximately 800 showed up. That conference marks the real birth of the organization we know today, though the HEUG was not legally incorporated until February 6, 2001. In the interim, two additional HESIG conferences were held in Dallas, and the first conference to bear the HEUG branding was held in Orlando in March 2001. In 2006, the name of the conference was changed to Alliance. The name change was significant in that it reflected the inclusion of the HEUG's allied user groups FUN (Federal Users Network) and SLG (State and Local Government Group, now PSUG, Public Sector Users Group).
The establishment of the HESIG also led to the creation of a number of listserves for PeopleSoft higher education customers. Along the way, the HEUG contracted with a startup company called Socious for the design, implementation and maintenance of HEUG Online. This change consolidated the listserves (which were renamed Forums) into a single, homogeneous environment and provided archiving, search, and other useful features. To this day the Forums remain a central and very heavily used service of the HEUG, sharing a vast wealth of member knowledge and experience.
Another major event in the history of the organization was the acquisition of PeopleSoft by Oracle in late 2004. The Oracle corporate culture was quite different from PeopleSoft’s, and the initial attitude of Oracle management towards the HEUG was not encouraging. Within a few months, however, the HEUG was able to make impressive progress in convincing Oracle that it was not only not going to go away quietly, but that it could continue to be an important component of the Oracle “ecosystem,” just as it had been with PeopleSoft. Oracle now regards HEUG as one of the best run and most effective of the many Oracle user groups, and HEUG maintains a strong, yet independent, relationship with Oracle.
Oracle’s acquisition of PeopleSoft also led to a significant expansion in the scope of the HEUG’s mission. The HEUG Board decided it would be best not to remain focused on PeopleSoft applications, but to widen its membership to include institutions running Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) applications as well.
Oracle’s continuing stream of acquisitions poses both opportunities and challenges for the HEUG in its mission to be the primary voice of the higher education community for all critical Oracle applications. The recent acquisitions of Hyperion and Sun are just two of the more notable examples. Discussion and debate continues within the HEUG Board as to how and where the HEUG can be most effective in providing support to the higher education user community and advocacy to Oracle.
The Product Advisory Group (PAG) structure (along with various other committees, focus groups, and work groups) is another essential and extremely effective feature of the HEUG. In the words of former HEUG President Joe Moreau, “without the PAGs, the HEUG is just a handshake.” The number and composition of the PAGs and the TAG (Technical Advisory Group) have evolved over the years to reflect the changing landscape of products and technology. What has remained constant is the unparalleled effectiveness and dedication of the PAGs and TAG in advocating for the user community and in facilitating the sharing of information and advice among the membership.
Finally, the most recent significant event in the evolution of the HEUG has been the decision to establish institutional membership fees. This decision was not undertaken lightly by the Board. Rather, it was deemed necessary in order to diversify the revenue base needed to support the organization. Until now, the HEUG has been funded almost entirely by revenue from the Alliance conference. The goal of the new business model is not only to ensure that the HEUG remains able to provide its members with the same high level of service, education, and advocacy that it has since its incorporation in 2001 -- but also to create the ability to provide many new services that were impeded by our dependence on conference revenue.