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New chief information officer brings experience

October 16, 2008

The new chief information officer of IT Services takes over Oct. 27, bringing a strong background in academics, business and technology to the position.

Stephen Reed, the new hire, said that he has always enjoyed integrating technology with academic needs. It is something that he has previously done at Anoka-Ramsey Community College as the chief information officer since 2001.

“I had a lot of success at Anoka-Ramsey and we’ve been able to really drive technology in a way that all faculty and staff have been able to see the need for it,” Reed said.

The accomplishment he said he is most proud of during his time at Anoka-Ramsey is the creation of the Center for Instructional Technology, which provides support staff to train and assist faculty in the implementation of technology into their curriculum.

Although not everything that worked at Anoka-Ramsey can be cut and dropped here, Reed said the goals are the same.

“It’s to create as successful an academic environment possible and we know technology is becoming more and more a larger component of that,” Reed said.

Reed majored in business and technology at Minnesota State University and went on to receive his masters of business administration degree (MBA) at Metropolitan State University. He has worked in a business setting as an IT manager and he teaches classes at Metropolitan State University in addition to being CIO at Anoka-Ramsey.

He was one of three finalists brought to campus to meet with faculty, staff and students by the Search and Screen Committee organized to find a new CIO. The current CIO, Lisa Wheeler, is taking Mary Halada’s position as vice chancellor for administration and finance when Halada retires in November.

“I definitely think Steve is an extremely qualified candidate,” Valerie Malzacher, Davee Library director and chair of the search and screen committee, said. “It was for me his prior experience, his strength in various areas of IT and his leadership qualities that presented for me the total package of what we were looking for.”

Reed met with faculty, staff and students on Sept. 12 and was able to gauge their concerns. Students wanted the continued advance of technology, faculty wanted technology to be tailored to their academic needs, while administrators wanted continued progress by the faculty in the use of technology.

One of the difficulties of working in IT is that there is always new technology and implementing that technology creates change. Reed said change is one of the most difficult things for people to accept, but there are ways to ease the transition.

“You have to build your relationships across campus across the university,” Reed said. “You have to know where the concerns are and you have to communicate in a way so those concerns are less.”

Reed has an advantage since he has such an extensive background in technology, Wheeler said.

“My background is in organizational leadership and planning so my role was to help the department get back on track,” Wheeler said. “[Reed] comes in with a rich background in technology, plus he is an MBA so he has a rich management background as well.”

Management is important because Wheeler said that UWRF spends at least $3 million a year on technology when all expenses are accounted for, such as IT staff salaries. Projects over the last several years have included upgrading the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) lab and putting one thousand iClickers (or personal response devices) into circulation for use in the classroom.

In terms of future technology, Reed said that assessing its practicality will be essential, because it is easy to be swayed by the novelty of new technology.

“From a cool standpoint, you might say, ‘That’s amazing, how does that work,’ but yet you also have to apply it,” Reed said.

Knowing whether it can be applied will require working closely with faculty, staff and students to know what their needs are and whether or not their needs can be met by the technology.

Reed has been a River Falls resident for the last six years and he said becoming CIO will be an exciting opportunity since he gets to be employed at a university with a tradition of academic success and it will let him become more active in the community.

“[River Falls is] the community that I consider home,” Reed said.  “And I know the University plays a large role in the community, so I’m excited about being able to represent River Falls.”