Yale creates new leadership role to oversee information technology

Yale has established a new leadership position to oversee information technology systems, underscoring the key role they play in the university’s mission of education, research, scholarship, preservation, and practice, as well as the value to campus operations of ever greater interconnectivity.

In a June 24 message, President Peter Salovey and Senior Vice President for Operations Jack Callahan Jr. announced that Yale has elevated Chief Information Officer John Barden’s position to the level of university officer. Barden will be Yale’s vice president for information technology, effective July 1, 2022.

The Yale Corporation approved the promotion at its meeting earlier this month.

“As a global research university, Yale has a longstanding responsibility to create knowledge that improves the world for this and future generations,” Salovey and Callahan wrote. “Essential to this mission is superior information technology that supports students, faculty members, and staff.”

The pandemic, they said, reinforced the importance of evolving Yale’s IT systems for “unprecedented interconnectivity.”

“As an institution, Yale must permanently make ‘bits and bytes’ as important as ‘bricks and mortar,’” Callahan said, noting that the CIO is a cabinet-level position at many of Yale’s peer institutions.

Salovey and Callahan said Barden is perfectly suited to the job.

He has been Yale’s CIO since 2017. Prior to coming to Yale, he was deputy CIO at the University of Rochester and a consultant with Arthur Andersen and BearingPoint.

At the University of Rochester, Barden helped launch the university’s first institution-wide learning management system, deployed an integrated data warehouse, completed several major administrative systems transitions, established an integrated research computing organization, and aided in refining information technology governance and operational practices.

Upon arriving at Yale, Barden and his Information Technology Services team conducted a sweeping assessment and overhaul of IT on campus, work that proved essential in 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced Yale to move most teaching online temporarily.

Working with partners across the university, Barden oversaw an effort to expand network capacity, allowing Yale to provide technology and IT guidance for students around the world and a faculty largely teaching remotely. Under his leadership, Yale IT has also actively worked to enhance IT support through three strategic priorities: increased coordination across all campus IT units, enabling clear and accessible services for the entire university; improved consistency and reliability of all services; and new workplace culture initiatives designed to help IT professionals engage with the community and do their best work. These initiatives, Barden says, have propelled Yale IT’s organizational capability.

“Our institutional infrastructure expectations continue to evolve rapidly,” he said. “Perhaps never has that been clearer than through the pandemic, where so much of our campus had to use new ways of continuing our missions through new, technology-enabled means.

“Increasingly, our faculty, staff, and students are reliant on many forms of information technology and technology professionals to do their work,” he added. “Sometimes that is in the background, such as networking and data centers. Other times, it visibly enables fresh possibilities through high performance computing, learning management systems, collaboration tools, or the many specialized applications and team members that work with faculty, students, and staff.”

Beyond ITS’s pandemic-related efforts, Barden has aided in the development of the Program Management and Operations Excellence Team, which supports IT and other operations-wide initiatives. His expertise will be critical as Yale continues to maximize its technology resources in the years ahead, Salovey and Callahan said.

The elevation of the CIO role puts it on equal footing with other roles that report directly to Yale’s operations division, such as the vice presidents for facilities, finance, and human resources. It also will complement the realignment of Yale’s public safety leadership announced earlier this week.

“While we have made great progress in improving information technology governance and collaboration, this change will aid alignment between our institutional goals and the technology resources that so often support those objectives,” Barden said. “I look forward to working with our committed IT professionals and the entire campus community to further evolve Yale’s digital infrastructure.”

 

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