Yes, it is true. I will be retiring in the Spring of 2017. The announcement on Inside UW makes it official.
While the announcement is appropriately brief, I thought I would take some time to provide some additional context, and chart out what some of my focus is going to be over the remaining time I am here.
First, I think it is important to acknowledge some things, and some people. If you have not read the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, I encourage you to do so. Gladwell notes that there really is no such thing as a “self-made person”. We are all the products of some luck, some good timing, and many, many people who have cared about us during our lives. I have admitted on Twitter recently that while some of my colleagues appreciate a certain amount of “wisdom” they believe I possess, the reason for this is that I have failed many, many times, picked myself back up, failed again, and learned from the lessons. My parents and grandparents used to call this the “school of hard knocks”. Well, I have a PhD in that discipline, for sure. For this “school” to be effective, you need two things: resilience, and people around you who care enough to overlook some of your honest mistakes, hold you accountable, but give you a chance to grow. I had and have such people in my life, and I am grateful for them.
I want to specifically thank those in the UW-Madison community who accepted me into their proud family five years ago. I could not have asked for a more supportive start to this last stop on my formal career. You know who you are. Women and men who challenged me (because I needed it) and mentored/tutored me as I began to understand the task in front of me. This includes world class faculty, who cared enough to engage with me while determining whether I had the right stuff or not. This generosity, I have learned, is part of the fabric of this unique university, and transcends generations. I want to express heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped me to learn about this great university and what makes it special.
I also want to shine a light on something that I believe will be a strength that carries us together into an exciting new future. The women and men in the loosely defined “IT” community have invested in themselves through extensive leadership development over the last five years. When I arrived, I earmarked funding for distributed IT leaders to participate in the MOR IT Leaders Programs of the CIC and UW-System. We now have five years of cohorts of leaders, joining with their colleagues in DoIT who were already participating, to create the leadership capacity we will need to get us through a leadership transition period. I am going to count on, and challenge, all MOR IT leaders to step up to the plate, because I know that you are ready.
So what am I going to focus on for the remainder of the year? I will continue to focus time and effort in building and strengthening strategic corporate partnerships. Our best future is one in which we work in partnership with a select group of companies that value their relationship with UW-Madison, and want to work with us to advance our mission. We also have a major security initiative underway, which has positive implications for teaching, internships, and research opportunities with a select group of academic departments and schools. I will be spending considerable time working with academic colleagues, companies and donors to see how we can best build a world class “laboratory” for teaching and research opportunities for our faculty and students. Finally, I will continue to work on building bridges between stakeholders who rely on technology, and those who deploy technology services. The work of building trust never ends at a complex organization like ours.
So with a little sadness, a whole lot of optimism and great determination, I look forward to continuing to serve this great institution as I near the finish line. The work is only partly done. I am excited to think about what will come next.