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UW-River Falls narrows search for next chief information officer

Falcon News Service

October 26, 2016

Officials at UW-River Falls are moving closer to filling the top technology management position.

UWRF has been without a chief information officer (CIO) since Steven Reed left in April for a similar position with Metropolitan State University in St. Paul. The position is in charge of all technical aspects of the campus including the operation of the Division of Technology (DoTS).

To fill the position, the UWRF Faculty Senate created a search and screen committee to seek and vet potential candidates. After narrowing the applicant pool down to four candidates, the committee is now looking for input from the campus.

“The CIO touches every aspect of the university from the student to the president and every branch and every organization in the university,” said Dan Paulus, chair of the CIO Search and Screen Committee. “Therefore, I think it would be wise to get some feedback from those constituents — which is everybody — and hopefully get another perspective than that of the committee itself.”

To elicit response from students, faculty and staff, the committee is hosting open sessions for the candidates to present on any topic related to technology. The presentation will be part of a longer interview process that each candidate will participate in with other campus officials. Sara Solland, one of two co-interim CIOs and a member of the search and screen committee, said the candidates have a wide range of backgrounds.

“It’s a very diverse group of people who applied for the position — many different industries, not just higher education, that had applied for the position,” Solland said. “Usually there’s more of a technology generalist experience that gets people ahead in the pool because they’ve had different experiences with different areas within a technology division.”

Currently, the responsibilities are shared between Solland and Co-Interim CIO Jason Winget, while balancing the demands of their primary campus technology-related positions. Solland said finding a consistent CIO is essential to the advancement of the campus.

“I would say it’s important to have a CIO because they’re really the interface between all that technology does and serves, or the services we provide the students, and the administration on campus or different governance groups on campus so it’s a very political type of position,” Solland said.

Once the open sessions and interviews are over, the search and screen committee will review each candidate and will eventually recommend one of them to Interim Provost Faye Perkins, who will make the final decision. However, Winget said feedback from students will make a strong impact on the final decision.

“I think it’s extremely important for students to come because one of the things that is obviously important for us is the student input because what we look at as needs from students, this is a great opportunity to find someone that may be setting the course for what future students are looking for,” Winget said.

Open sessions were scheduled to start on Monday, Oct. 24, and will take place on select dates until Nov. 4.

DoTS is also looking to fill six other positions including a teaching and learning technology manager.