Change in Information Services leadership

2/1/2012: Change in Information Services leadership

Following much consultation and deliberation, I have decided to make a change in leadership in the University of Oregon’s Information Services (IS) operation. Effective February 1, Susan Hilton and Tony Saxman will assume the roles of co-senior directors for the unit on an interim basis while we conduct a national search for a new Chief Information Officer.

Information Services is comprised of Enterprise Initiatives, Enterprise Administrative Applications, Academic Services, Network and Telecommunication Services, the Advanced Network Technology Center, Systems and Operations, and the management of NERO (Network for Education and Research in Oregon). Tony and Susan will assume the shared responsibility of broader leadership of the entire operation of Information Services while continuing their specific oversight of Enterprise Initiatives, Network and Telecommunication Services and the Enterprise Administrative Applications team respectively. The two have extensive experience running information technology operations and together will build on the recent successes of the Information Services unit.

Don Harris will transition from his role as Chief Information Officer and will be responsible for special projects in the Office of the Provost for the next year.

Please join me in thanking Don for his service and welcoming Susan and Tony into their new interim roles.

Lorraine Davis
Senior Vice President and Provost

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29 Responses to Change in Information Services leadership

  1. Anonymous says:

    Dog says, keeping in mind the U0matters guidelines on decency

    Its more than about fuckin’ time

    I am not sure many people realize how many years
    Harris’s “leadership” has set us behind. I am not sure if we can recovery. But overall, this
    was necessary.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Another golden parachute for someone not good enough at their job to keep it. “Special Projects” is thinly veiled code for we don’t want you anymore but we are going to keep paying you because when we negotiate contracts with administrators we don’t include escape clauses for poor performance (either that or we can’t distinguish between good performance and poor performance at that level). He’s been a known liability for years so at least give Davis credit for making the move her predecessor should have.

    How many of us regular folk would keep getting paid if we failed to do our job? Is the Johnson Hall house cleaned up yet? Will our new pres be saddled with all these legacy failures who are still on the payroll?

  3. Anonymous says:

    I would love to know the details. My knowledge of that whole part of campus tapered off 13+ years ago, so all that I know about him was that he’s the bastard that got rid of nearly everyone I liked in the computing center.

  4. Anonymous says:

    If Don merely couldn’t do his job, it wouldn’t have been so bad. The fact is he seemed to go out of his way to screw up everything vaguely related to IT on campus. I always loved how in the information age, the head of IT insisted on sending out a paper newsletter (on expensive heavy paper) every quarter with a huge picture of his own face somewhere inside. Perhaps the Office of Provost wants its own newsletter now…

  5. Anonymous says:

    A different topic:

    Rumor has it Moffitt is out to chop money-losing programs, in effort to stem brewing UO financial problems. Anybody know anything?

  6. Anonymous says:

    It always seems like the people in charge of the computers are the last ones who should be in charge of the computers. The more things change the more they stay the same, and IS will remain one big pissing match for years to come. Harris has left his legacy.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Jim Bean kept Don Harris on for years despite many complaints and problems. Harris and Bean are neighbors. Lorraine Davis is doing what Bean should have done years ago, and good for her!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Dog reminds

    yes, but it was LGD that hired Harris in the first place.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Having worked under Don for years I can say he will not be missed. He was ineffective at best. He was a serious detriment to IT at the University at worst. Many of us hope that the new CIO team will realize the remaining people that need to go and take care of it.

    • Anonymous says:

      The only problem with that statement is that it is exactly the people replacing him that need to go.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Promoting two people to interim CIO is setting ourselves up for interim failure. Make a decision.

    • Anonymous says:

      Especially when you consider that both Hilton and Saxman have made careers out of avoiding making decisions. It’s been a great way for them to collect fat salaries on the backs of Oregon Tax payers – while skirting scrutiny.

  11. Anonymous says:

    This is hilarious. Don Harris was ineffective on his best day, a saboteur to the university on all the others. Look up what he got paid to see how much more you could be making by surfing youtube. I was really hoping Lariviere would have recognized the lack of leadership and changed things up. It was always motivational to have months of hard work in IS be met with Google showing me how Don’s latest job hunt was doing.

    So the good news is that he is gone. Now there just needs to be an effective replacement. Until that time, the UO is all buckled in for interim failure with Tony Saxman, who I have yet to see make a decision, and Susan Hilton, who is iconic in representing the IT cruft on campus that needs to be let go.

    Is anyone convinced that in the next 3-6 months there will be a new CIO? The NTS director job is still vacant (Saxman is practicing his leadership style of doing nothing there) and I haven’t seen a director-level or higher position get filled in under a year. I would bet this takes at least 2 years to fill, with at least 5 qualified candidates pulling out of the search after they see how messed up IT is at UO.

  12. Anonymous says:

    dog to 4 pm anonymous

    whether your already inside the IS organization, which I suspect you are,
    or outside,

    there is nothing “hilarious” about any of this. Harris’s ineffectiveness became
    apparent after his first 6 months here. Efforts were made at that time to point out that his hiring was a mistake and needed correction soon. No one heard that, no one cared,
    and there was no unifying voice within the CC to help make that case.

    Hilarity is actually tragedy for the reasons you state in your last sentence.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Dog on JTM vs LGD

    JTM was very involved in the first unsuccessful search which resulted in
    Deb Carver being interim. While JTM was still technically here when Don was hired
    he had checked out on that search (and everything else) months before and dumped
    everything on LGD.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Dog says and

    More the the point, LGD was the one in position to fire Don early on when it was first
    articulated (to brick walls) that Don was a _______________________ (fill in the blank)

  15. Anonymous says:

    Funny how you never mention a word about Don Harris until he is pushed out by an interim Provost and you all jump on the bandwagon. There have been many positive changes over the past 6 years but all those are forgotten when you all see blood in the water like a bunch of sharks or maybe it is sheep who can’t think for themselves.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Dog requires anonymous 9:29 AM

    to document “positive changes in” IT under Harris

    Here is what I think:

    1. All linux support was fired by Harris within his first year – that meant all informal/formal scientific/research computing support was gone.

    2. The ed tech process ,however flawed, did fund faculty projects – that was removed
    when Harris came here.

    3. The damn building got locked down thus physically isolating the Computing Center from the rest of campus (was that positive?)

    4. CASIT was formed as a result of the dissatisfaction with Don Harris and lack of services provided. CASIT doesn’t need to exist but I am glad that it does.

    5. Dale Smith was forced to retire and Dale was by far the most functional and competent person within that organization.

    6. Harris made himself unapproachable with layers of protectors.

    7. Classroom instructional technology support vanishes and befalls the library who is only sort of 1/2 equipped to deal with it.

    8. Inside the building morale was horrible.

    9. In an era where collaboration is essential to foster any open source IT enterprise –
    Harris refused to engage. So we get UOdocs, etc – when the entire world is moving to
    Google Services, Amazon Web Services, etc.

    I’ll stop now.

    • Anonymous says:


      I agree with most of your points but there are a few I’d like to follow up on.

      1. Statistics support went away too. Joe’s old group was researcher friendly. There are attempts to build some of it back. But for a few years were there was nothing, and it may not return to it’s old glory. But the way the funding model works now it might have to be done on a departmental level.

      2. Ed tech was effectively ended by the state, not by Harris. Harris was in favor of continuing it. Who’s going to turn down a sack of money?

      4. Every other school had IT support for a decade, except for CAS. Some things, such as in depth one on one faculty support, are best done at the departmental level. CASIT was long overdue.

      5. Dale was not forced to retire. Perhaps the situation made it harder to retain him. It was ultimately his personal choice. But yes, great loss.

      9. Outsourcing to the cloud is not a silver bullet. Many grant driven activities and anything involving human subjects must have it’s data stored on campus. UOdocs isn’t perfect but it’s much more difficult to support two solutions than one.

    • Anonymous says:


      Point 1 – agreed

      Point 2- agreed that Harris did not directly end this; Brady was more involved;
      not sure about the State; in any event, open to interpretation. Lkely Harris wanted all of the Ed Tech money directly if it were to have continued.

      Point 4 – agree with statement if it was the 1990s – don’t agree with it now.

      Point 5 – Let’s put it another way – if Don had been relieved of this duties
      3 years ago – Dale would not have retired.

      Point 9 – Let’s hold those thoughts and re-evaluate in 2 years. I believe “outsourcing” is a misleading term. Cloud services configure and optimize
      your hardware. Its a Virtualized world (not now, but soon). Agree that human subjects is its own animal.

  17. Anonymous says:

    With 33 million subsidy ripped out of CAS to prop up budgets elsewhere, yes, it is no surprise that other, much smaller, better funded, places had it support earlier or that it took a while to build up IT support for 60% of the campus with no funding, but as dog notes, it was done, patchwork ,shoestrings, and all. And yes, our entire campus network was done with the same kind of patches and shoestrings by dale and his team. by the way, dale,wherever you are. Some haven’t forgotten that heroic effort, so here’s to you! As usual the best (in this case dale and Joe), were pushed out by incompetence, medioity and inflated egos, only to be replaced by those with lesser skills.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Anonymous @12:40 – #9 – which grant driven activities require on campus storage? Which funding agencies are requiring that? An what are the regulations in particular? I hear this all the time in some vague way, but no one can tell me an actual regulation that requires this. Give me some specifics. I am tired misinformation, misconceptions, fear and rumors driving IT policy. And don’t give me ITAR and EAR. We have very few researches that come under these regulations and they know who they are. These folks are supposed to be careful about who they communicate with and it is simply not cloud stored email that is prohibited. In essence it is all email communications, regardless of where the communications are stored that must be attended to. It is who these folks communicate with that is what is behind the restrictions. Having these few folks drive our IT choices on campus seems convoluted and backwards.

    Anonymous at 10:23 – much agreed. Dale is missed, and Joe should never have been hidden from the rest of campus. He is a gem, extremely knowledgeable, and a resource that has been squandered. Both persons were the good things about IT on campus, too back they were wasted.

    Ed tech was not stopped by the state. The new budget model required that the fee be dropped. It was rolled into tuition.

    • Anonymous says:

      Dog on Ed Tech:

      Yes it was rolled into tuition starting Fall 2006. Not sure about budget model driver but there was an OUS change in “fee structure” so the Ed Tech fee as a line item fee had to
      be removed and rolled into tuition. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t have been be rolled out later for Ed Tech investment, it just wasn’t directly (but was indirectly through a budget increase for the computing center …). In any event, we still have no funds dedicated
      anymore to faculty curriculum development in IT.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Dog has basically the story behind IT on this campus under Harris. We are really far behind our peers on this campus when it comes to IT infrastructure. Let’s not wait around for a new CIO search to start. We need every minute to try to catch up.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Seems to me the faculty (as in faculty Senate) could get going on a serious discussion on what IT’s role in our academic mission ought to be. It’s time to bring IT into the fold of “academic matters” and out of the realm of “infrastructure” (as in “plumbing”). Faculty on this campus ought to be driving decisions on this, not IT directors as has been the case. IT should be here to SERVE the academic mission and those that carry out that mission. As it stands now, it is a little empire behind a firewall with no accountability to those it should serve.

  21. Anonymous says:

    You are correct –That little empire mostly serves central admin – banner, SDWH, Relationship management – all supposedly the only things we do on campus. And don’t get me started about how we have to wait for Network services while the Arena, Autzen, or the Track events take priority. An ivory tower behind a firewall.

    We need them to support the academic mission ie. teaching and research.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Dear Anonymous “2:06 PM”. According to the UO Constitution any member of the Statutory Faculty (or Emeritus Faculty) can bring motions to the Senate. The Senate will discuss the motion and vote on it. If you bring a motion to have a discussion on a particular subject, and the Senate approves, the Senate President will set up the discussion by identifying responsible discussion leaders and setting aside a suitable period for the discussion during a subsequent Senate meeting. Depending on understandings reached from such a discussion, Anonymous might then bring a motion for legislation that would improve things.
    LESSON: The Senate is your instrument for action. If you want something done, just do it!

  23. Anonymous says:

    What concerns me in reading these comments is again, as so often in these cases, a question of “What happened to all the money?” Harris received? There is so little to show for it. I remember all too well the mighty efforts made to promote the use of ‘white board’ technology and poor Mary Bradley standing forlornly in the hallway of ground floor McK hall trying to interest faculty in the technology. That there is still no functioning email and calendar system says a lot about the failures of Harris.

    But I do understand there is some hope. CAS IT now allows faculty to get enterprise level google mail and apps. This is a promising development.

    a very frustrated Latino who had expected more of this place.