Penn State announces new CIO

Donald Welch

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Pennsylvania State University on Thursday announced Donald Welch as the university’s new vice president of information technology and chief information officer.

Welch, who has served as the university’s interim vice president for information technology and chief information officer since July 2019, will take over the position permanently beginning Oct. 1 overseeing the university’s information technology needs. As CIO, Welch leads the implementation of IT tools for students, faculty and staff, as well as data services, cost-effective IT investments and IT governance practices and procedures, according to the university.

“The position of vice president for Information Technology and CIO is a key strategic leadership role for Penn State,” David Gray, senior vice president for finance and business at Penn State, said in a press release. “Much more than merely overseeing the central IT organization, we look to Don to provide vision and guidance across all of Penn State’s organizational units and locations. We are confident that he is the right person to provide such comprehensive leadership.”

Welch’s appointment as CIO comes in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced many universities to prioritize education technology and IT services for students, faculty and staff.

University IT leaders have been increasingly important during the health crisis, ensuring classes were able to moved online in March and preparing faculty and students for remote learning during the fall semester.

COVID-19 has forced many universities to invest in new technology and scale up the use of existing technology, like learning management and video conferencing software, to keep students and faculty safe during the pandemic and ensure students have continued access to education, even off campus.

According to a study by Pew Research in April, nearly 90% of Americans said the internet has been an essential or important tool during the coronavirus pandemic. And as colleges and universities work to ensure all students have access to Wi-Fi and internet connected devices, many technology leaders are still working to improve education technology and services during the pandemic.

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