Mississippi State U. fills new 'chief technology transformation officer' role

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Mississippi State University selected Jenni Crenshaw, an executive at the software company PDI in Georgia, to fill the newly created chief technology transformation officer role, leaders announced Wednesday.

Crenshaw is a MSU graduate who holds decades of experience in the private sector. She’ll head up the university’s Information Technology Services department beginning July 1, according to a university press release. She will also manage technology budgets and resources and oversee “transformational initiatives” for the university’s technology.

Jenni Crenshaw
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MSU, which enrolls 22,000 students, announced the new chief technology transformation officer role in April. University Chief Information Officer Steve Parrott will report to Crenshaw and cover day-to-day responsibilities. She will report to Provost and Executive Vice President David Shaw.

“Technology is a vital and ever-changing facet of modern research universities, and Jenni’s experience working with clients to develop solutions and implement broad-scale changes will serve MSU well,” Shaw said in the press release. “There are many challenges and future needs related to our technology infrastructure that we will be addressing as we implement university-wide transformation initiatives. I look forward to working with Jenni to ensure that MSU remains well-equipped to carry out our teaching, research and service missions.”

The university has previously cited the coronavirus pandemic as a deciding factor in changing how it approaches information technology services, with the new role dividing up the vast responsibilities associated with IT. Crenshaw, in roles at Deloitte and the Jabian Management and IT Consulting, has experience managing technology-based projects.

MSU’s IT department has numerous initiatives on its project list, including updating the campus’s card credential system and installing AV equipment into classrooms, as well as a network upgrade scheduled before the end of the year. Higher education institutions around the country are investing in IT despite facing budget challenges from demographic shifts because of permanent remote or hybrid work and learning prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Money coming from federal coronavirus relief could be an opportunity for university IT. Columbus State University in Georgia is using millions from the CARES Act to complete a system-wide network upgrade in the next year.

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