Brown named Sharon Pitt as its new vice president for information technology and chief information officer Tuesday, according to an email sent by Sarah Latham, executive vice president for finance and administration.
Pitt, who currently works in the same role 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 required to support research, teaching, student needs and faculty needs,” Latham said. “But she also has really good leadership skills, so she can mobilize all the wonderful people who work in the IT unit to do their very best work.”
At the University of Delaware, Pitt has “grown and strengthened online learning capabilities and expanded high-performing computer capacity,” Latham wrote in the email. Previously, Pitt worked as chief information officer at Binghamton University and deputy CIO at George Mason University. She will begin at Brown on Dec. 1, according to the email.
“I’ve spent much of my career in support of teaching and learning technologies, and I’m very excited to bring my unique perspective to Brown to advance progress in those areas,” Pitt said in a University statement. “I’ll work responsively and collaboratively with Brown faculty, staff and students to support the different disciplines, which have distinct computation, networking and security needs, while advancing the strategic directions of the 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 his decision to step down. Research- and teaching-oriented faculty, staff and students all played a role in the search process, offering feedback on the position’s description and conducting anonymous interviews with finalists to bring different perspectives to the process, Latham said.
John Spadaro, currently serving as interim chief digital and information officer, will resume his position as deputy chief information officer after Pitt joins, according to the email. While the name of the position has changed to “better reflect the totality of the role and align” with other colleges’ framing of the job, the job’s responsibilities have not, Latham wrote in an email to The Herald.
Pitt will oversee most IT systems and services “that support teaching and learning,” as well as tech support for research and business operations and the budget and staff in the Office of Information Technology, according to the email. She will also work with the University Library to support its research computing.
Additionally, Pitt will join the University as it plans projects that rely on “cutting-edge” technology, such as a new integrated life sciences building for biology, medicine, brain science, public health and other disciplines, according to the University’s statement.
“There’s very little that technology doesn’t touch at a university,” Pitt said in the statement. “A technology leader must create an environment where the community can utilize all of the technology tools in the most effective ways to serve the institution.”
The University’s IT team must be “flexible and innovative” — while making sure its “core systems stay strong,” Latham said in the interview, noting the continued need to strengthen cybersecurity while supporting the University’s research computing and data storage needs in the cloud.
Pill “is very well aware of our goals in advancing our learning systems for students, and … (expanding) research that requires really strong partnership,” Latham said. She’ll “listen first and then mobilize our units,” Latham added.
As a leader, Pitt will maintain a focus on “institutional equity and diversity,” she noted in the statement. At the University of Delaware, Pitt’s IT team created a program for women in IT and offered support for Delaware’s Girls Who Code program, according to the statement.
“One of things that really attracted me to Brown was its broad commitment to diversity, equity and belonging and the fact that Brown actually has assessment criteria and metrics around DEI for every department at the University,” Pitt said in the statement. “I’ve embraced DEI as a leader and will passionately continue to embrace DEI at Brown.”
Will Kubzansky is the 133rd editor-in-chief and president of the Brown Daily Herald. Previously, he served as a University News editor overseeing the admission & financial aid and staff & student labor beats. In his free time, he plays the guitar and soccer — both poorly.