Brown named Sharon Pitt as the new vice president of information technology and chief information officer on Tuesday, according to an email sent by Sarah Latham, executive vice president of finance and administration.
Pitt, who currently holds the same position at the University of Delaware, stood out in the process because of her leadership and expertise, Latham said in an interview with The Herald.
“She has a mix of the technological understanding needed to support research, teaching, student needs and faculty needs,” Latham said. “But she also has very good leadership skills, so she can mobilize all the great people who work in the IT unit to do their best.”
At the University of Delaware, Pitt “developed and strengthened e-learning capabilities and expanded high-performance computing capability,” Latham wrote in the email. Previously, Pitt worked as Chief Information Officer at Binghamton University and Deputy Chief Information Officer at George Mason University. She will start at Brown on December 1, according to the email.
“I have spent much of my career supporting teaching and learning technologies, and I am very pleased to bring my unique perspective to Brown to advance advancements in these areas,” said pitt. in a statement from the University. “I will work responsively and collaboratively with Brown faculty, staff and students to support the different disciplines, which have distinct compute, networking and security needs, while advancing the strategic directions of University and ensuring robust and reliable systems everywhere.”
Administrators began a nationwide search for the position in January after Bill Thirsk, who served as Chief Digital Officer and Chief Information Officer from 2019 to 2022, announced its decision to withdraw. Research and teaching-focused faculty, staff, and students all played a role in the research process, offering feedback on the job description and conducting anonymous interviews with finalists to bring different perspectives to the process. Latham said.
John Spadaro, currently acting director of digital and information, will return to his position as deputy director of information after Pitt’s arrival, according to the email. Although the name of the position has changed to “better reflect the totality of the role and align” with the work framing of other colleges, the responsibilities of the position have not changed, Latham wrote in an email to the Herald. .
Pitt will oversee most computer systems and services “that support teaching and learning,” as well as technical support for research and business operations, as well as the budget and staff of the Office of Information Technology, according to the email. It will also work with the university library to support its research computing.
Additionally, Pitt will join the University as it plans projects that leverage “cutting edge” technology, such as a new embedded system life sciences building for biology, medicine, brain science, public health and other disciplines, according to the University’s statement.
“There are very few things technology doesn’t touch at a university,” Pitt said in the statement. “A technology leader must create an environment where the community can use all technology tools in the most effective way to serve the institution.”
The University’s IT team must be “flexible and innovative” – while ensuring that its “core systems remain strong”, Latham said in the interview, noting the continued need to strengthen cybersecurity while supporting the University’s research and data storage needs in the cloud.
Pill “is very conscious of our goals to advance our learning systems for students, and … (expand) research that requires a really strong partnership,” Latham said. It will “listen first and then mobilize our units,” Latham added.
As a leader, Pitt will continue to focus on “institutional equity and diversity,” she noted in the statement. At the University of Delaware, Pitt’s computer science team created a program for women in computer science and offered support to Delaware’s Girls Who Code program, according to the release.
“One of the things that really drew me to Brown was his broad commitment to diversity, equity and belonging and the fact that Brown actually has assessment criteria and metrics around DEI for each department of the University,” Pitt said in the statement. “I have embraced DEI as a leader and will passionately continue to embrace DEI at Brown.”