by Tim Lohman

Macquarie University creates CIO role

Jun 30, 20092 mins

Macquarie University is to create a CIO role to oversee the creation and execution of a new ‘information strategy’ at the education institution.

According to Tim Sprague, director human resources at the university, the position will combine the role of director IT (formerly held by Mary Sharp, who has since moved to the University of Newcastle), with several functions of the COO (formerly held by Paul Bola, who has returned to the UK). Current director IT, David Fryda, has managed the IT functions at the university and will continue to do so until a CIO is found.

With the departure of the COO, the university began assessing the role’s total portfolio and found that it included duties, such as managing records and archiving, which traditionally fall under the purview of a CIO-type role.

“What we decided to do was look at the functions under the COO role and increase the scope of the old IT director role to make it a true CIO role, as what we need more that an IT strategy, is an information strategy,” he said.

“We need to know what we’re doing with information and data and what our needs are, then we start looking at systems and architecture flowing out of that.”

A major driver for this approach was the milestone of having more students visit the university’s library virtually rather than physically, Sprague said. In addition, students’ use of social media to communicate was outstripping the university’s ability to keep pace via its own communications portal.

“The way students share information is pushing along so quickly that we need to make sure that our strategies are up-to-date with the way students engage and communicate with the university,“ Sprague said.

On the IT infrastructure side, the university is also updating its data network backbone and installing more wireless access points to increase accessibility for students and lecturers, Sprague said.

The university also plans to spend about a billion dollars on new infrastructure, along with a new hospital to be built in 2010. Hearing aid manufacturer Cochlear also plans on setting up production facilities at the university as part of a central ‘hearing hub’, which will bring together NSW-based hearing research institutions. A new library is also under construction.