What should a new UMM Director of Information Technology person do?

This is essentially a re-posting from the UMM CSci blog.

UMM has recently opened a position for a new Director of Information Technology. The full job description is attached, and the description and application page are on-line.

Some highlights from the “Purpose of the Position” section:

General priorities for the position include:

  • promoting a 21st century learning and teaching environment for an undergraduate focused residential campus;
  • supporting through technology and information resources the research endeavors of a highly qualified and active faculty; and
  • advancing the use of technology to engage a growing base of prospective students, donors, and alumni.

Specifically, the Director of Information Technology will:

  • Provide IT leadership to the Morris campus and in the broader University community.
  • Serve as a key member of the Morris campus and University of Minnesota technology leadership team, which formulates and implements local and institutional goals and initiatives.
  • Partner with the academic and administrative leadership across the Morris campus and university-wide to participate in the creation and implementation of strategic goals and IT initiatives.

I’m a member of the search committee, and I want to share this information here for two reasons.

First, if anyone reading this is interested, please consider applying!

Second, the search committee is gathering feedback from various stakeholders about what we want this person to be and do. Before we begin to look at applications, the committee would like to try to clarify as best we can what the campus wants and needs from someone in this position.

So, what do you think are the priorities for UMM’s Director of Information Technology? What do they need to do to support the teaching, research, and service missions of campus? Looking ahead 5 years, what issues do you feel that this person will need to address/get ahead of? On of my concerns in recent years has been that the campus has been far too reactive to technological change, and instead of being ahead of the ball we’re constantly scrambling to respond to events and put out fires. What skills and background does this person need to help us turn that around?

I’d be happy to discuss this at UMM CSci tea tomorrow afternoon (4-6ish in the lab), or hear from anyone by whatever other means work for you. If you have ideas or thoughts, however, please share promptly; we want to wrap up this fact finding process in the next two weeks (by the morning of Tuesday, 20 Apr).

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A heartfelt plug for “A history of the world in 100 objects”

Statue of Ramesses II at the British Museum
Ramesses II at the British Museum

The BBC in conjunction with the British Museum is putting on a new series this year, “A history of the world in 100 objects”. Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, has chosen 100 objects from their remarkable collection to illustrate the sweep of human history, ranging from early stone axes through modern icons such as credit cards. Each object gets a 15 minute episode broadcast on BBC Radio 4, and available on-line and as a podcast.

They’ve finish 4 weeks (or 20 episodes), and the objects and their stories have been consistently engaging and informative. Some standouts have been the carving of the swimming reindeer, the Egyptian clay model of cattle, and the Rhind mathematical papyrus, but it’s awfully hard to choose favorites when the quality has been this good. If I had to pick just one out of what they’ve broadcast so far, it would probably be the Jomon pot episode. This type of pottery changed the way we understood the development of this crucial technology, and the way these objects were revered in Japan thousands of years later is quite wonderful. This particular pot, made some 7,000 years ago, was valued so highly a few hundred years ago that it was lined with gold and incorporated into the tea ceremony.

I’ve been to the British Museum several times over the years, and taken way too many photos there. (A few on my “main” Flickr account, and way too many on my events account.) One thing that’s been cool about the series is that in the first 20 episodes there was only one object that I remember seeing and actually photographed: The statue of Ramesses II up above. He’s huge and pretty hard to miss there next to the Rosetta Stone. Many of the objects in the series have been small and subtle, however, which nicely illustrates the value of a cool program like this. Some objects are pretty remarkable in and of themselves, but others benefit enormously from a guide who suggests we slow down and really look at this stone or that statue. Here MacGregor and his guests help us understand the significance, context, and impact of these objects, and totally make me want to go back to the Museum and seek these treasures out.

There are some other objects in the series that I’ve seen and photographed (such as the Assyrian Reliefs below), but most of them will be new to me. I’m eagerly looking forward to the remaining 80 episodes!

And the world just keeps rolling along
Detail from Assyrian Reliefs in the British Museum

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