New Tufts Chief Information Officer Named
Christopher Sedore, vice president and chief information officer at the University of Texas at Austin, has been appointed vice president and chief information officer of Tufts University, overseeing Tufts Technology Services. He starts in his new position on August 5.
At the University of Texas, Sedore led the development of a variety of initiatives and improved collaboration in the information technology community. Previously he was president and chief executive officer for the New York State Education and Research Network, following a twenty-five-year career at Syracuse University, where he rose to become vice president for information technology and chief information officer.
“We are so pleased to welcome Chris into the Tufts community to deepen our shared culture of innovation and collaboration,” said Anthony P. Monaco, president of Tufts University. “His background combines a unique blend of technology, education and problem solving that make him an exciting addition to our team in an area that offers tremendous opportunities for creative solutions. We are confident that faculty, students, and administrators will find him a valued colleague and strategic leader.”
Tufts Now recently spoke with Sedore about his career path and what he hopes to accomplish at Tufts.
Tufts Now: When and how did you first become interested in technology?
Christopher Sedore: I got hooked when I was in middle school. My dad worked in education, and he bought our first computer, an Apple II Plus. I thought, “OK—how do I make it do what I want it to do?” I started programming—in BASIC, back in that day, and it took off from there.
Did you have a sense early on that this would be a career path?
No, I never set out to work in technology per se. I enjoyed working with technology enough that once I got started, I never wanted to move away from it. I’ve always enjoyed solving problems and optimizing things and working to advance a cause—technology has been a vehicle for that in all my roles, whether technology focused or not. Even decades later, I still see an ever-expanding horizon of things that technology will enable.
You’ve worked on complex issues for higher education for much of your career. What attracted you to take on larger roles in managing people and projects?
Early in my career (and long ago now), I did primarily technical work—programming, networking, and systems implementation. This was fun because of new technical challenges that we faced every day. After some time in the technical world, I found it more rewarding to work at the intersection of technology and the higher education mission, particularly to apply technology to teaching, learning, and research—enabling faculty to teach remotely and researchers to work with larger data sets, for example.
Eventually, this evolved to ensuring organizations and institutions were positioned to apply technology strategically, solving for bigger challenges and ensuring that we managed IT, now having grown to a large function, efficiently. All that said, I still go home happiest on a day that I helped a faculty member, staff member, student, or collaborative group solve a problem or advance something that was important to their work.
What do you see as important to successful working relationships?
Listening and understanding, working side-by-side, acting with integrity, and open, thoughtful communication.
From your experience, what are some of the biggest technology challenges ahead in higher education?
I’d like to think of them as opportunities—we have not yet realized all the possibilities technology can bring to higher education. There are tremendous new opportunities in research and scholarship—we have only begun to leverage current and emerging capabilities of technology: 5G connectivity will let us connect and instrument the physical world in new ways; artificial intelligence and machine learning that will help us understand (ever-increasing quantities of) data.
In teaching and learning, 5G and AI will make an impact, too, allowing new kinds of interactions both on campus and online, and analytics will help us better understand how students learn best. Extended, augmented, and virtual reality will let us visualize data and experience the world in different ways and offer interesting ways to intersect research and teaching.
And automation and analytics will enhance our operations, automating mundane work and giving us deep insight into our operations.
What’s on your to-do list when you arrive at Tufts?
I’m looking forward to meeting faculty, students, and staff at Tufts and understanding their needs, perspectives, ideas, and concerns, and to collaborating to synthesize an agenda for how we move Tufts forward. My first to-do item will be getting to know people. That person-to-person connectivity is more important than anything else, as I see it, because technology is here to support the teaching, learning and research that is our core mission.
Is there anything you’d like to share with us about your non-work life—what you do for fun and relaxation?
I am a “maker”—I do metal and woodworking and work on technology projects. That is how I reset myself, by putting my hands-on tactile projects—making kitchen cabinets or IoT devices, loading Venmo transaction data into a graph database for a weekend of analysis, or even designing and welding up a biomass boiler—whatever catches my interest.
Laura Ferguson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.