First Update

Posted on: August 10, 2018

I’m excited to join UT Austin and grateful for the opportunity to work with all of you. I am passionate about the role that information and technology can play in advancing teaching, learning, and research, and in supporting administration.  I look forward to exploring those horizons with you.

For my first days (and weeks), I’ll be listening and learning to understand both UT and IT at UT.  Just from my first few days here, I’m impressed by the scale and scope of what is tackled by ITS and by IT units across UT.

As a form of introducing myself and my thoughts about IT, I’m sharing some answers to questions I’ve already been asked:

What’s the most important achievement you hope to accomplish as CIO?

First, a modification to the question: I don’t start by looking for accomplishments for me—accomplishments are things we will achieve together.  So, I’ll answer "What is the most important achievement for us, as the information and technology community, to accomplish for UT?”

At the highest level, we should have an IT environment that supports and enables world-class teaching, learning, and research at UT.  We can only do this by ensuring that we are closely connected with the communities we serve and what they are working to achieve—that will drive what we do and how we do it.  In short, we need to be sure that we are cost-effective, responsive, and focused on mission rather than technology.

I believe it also means that we should be helping to invent some of the future of teaching, learning, and research by understanding the core mission and looking at the technology horizon to help identify and bring in technology and analytical capabilities that advance that mission.  I look forward to figuring this out and doing it together.

How will you expect us to work together to achieve this vision?

I’m a collaboration-focused person. I know that everyone says that. But I value having people and perspectives from across the spectrum involved as we work to meet the needs of our UT community, anticipate opportunities, and bring in new capabilities to take our community past where we all knew they could go.  True collaboration means thoughtful and respectful conversation and debate, some give and take, and, ultimately, moving forward together with a collectively honed idea of where we need to go and a collective investment in that direction. 

What do you like to see in those that you work with?

There are a few ways to think about this. When I’m searching for new people to join a team, I like to hire for three qualities:  attitude, aptitude, and motivation.  Skills and experience are important, too, of course, but if you have these three qualities, you’ll be a great addition to the team and can learn the rest of what you need to know.

Another way to think about this is through values that we hold about our place in the organization. For me, these values have typically come down to excellence, organizational citizenship, and professional enjoyment. Excellence is included because we should be able to be proud of what we do in service to UT.  Organizational citizenship indicates that we are all citizens of UT (and the world more generally), and we should care for, respect, and treat each other and the organization well.  Finally, professional enjoyment means we should have fun doing what we do. Life is too short for drudgery, so let’s commit to making what we do fun. I’m pleased that we are working on the six core values for FAS – service, stewardship, integrity, innovation, diversity, and teamwork – as they embody the same spirit.

Why Texas?

Beyond the opportunity to join UT, as a long-time resident of the frozen north (I grew up and spent most of my life in a place that got 300 inches of snow each winter and could spend a week without getting above zero), I was ready for a change. I will say that the change was a bit of a shock when I drove in last Monday and found it 103 degrees, but I’m sure my blood will thin, and I’ll adjust.

These questions are a beginning--we will be having a few events through the fall where we will have a chance to meet, talk, and get to know each other better. Email always works, too, if there is something you would like to bring to my attention or something great happening that you would like me to know about.

And, if I have the local vernacular right, I should close with:  Hook ‘Em!