Brown names Sharon Pitt to oversee information technology

Brown named Sharon Pitt as his new vice president of information technology and chief information officer on Tuesday, according to an email from Sarah Latham, executive vice president of finance and administration.

Pitt, who currently works in the same role at the University of Delaware, stood out for her leadership and expertise, Latham said in an interview with The Herald.

“She has a mix of the technological understanding needed 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 best.”

At the University of Delaware, Pitt “developed and strengthened online learning capabilities and expanded high-performance computing capacity,” Latham wrote in the email. Pitt previously served as Chief Information Officer at Binghamton University and Associate CIO at George Mason University. According to the email, she will start at Brown on December 1st.

“I have spent much of my career supporting teaching and learning technologies, and I am very excited to bring my unique perspective to Brown to help advance progress in these areas,” Pitt said in a statement from the university. “I will work responsively and collaboratively with Brown’s faculty, staff and students to support the diverse disciplines that have different computational, interconnected and security needs, while also advancing the university’s strategic directions and being robust and robust throughout ensure reliable systems.”

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, providing feedback describing the position and conducting anonymous interviews with finalists to bring different perspectives to the process, Latham said.

John Spadaro, who currently serves 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 position’s name has changed to “better reflect the overall nature of the role and to align with other college design of the position,” the position’s responsibilities have not changed, Latham wrote in an email to The Herald.

According to the email, Pitt will oversee most of the IT systems and services “that support teaching and learning,” as well as research and business operations technical support, and budget and staffing at the Office of Information Technology. She will also work with the university library to support their research computers.

In addition, Pitt will join the university in planning projects that rely on “cutting-edge technology,” such as a new integrated life sciences building for biology, medicine, brain research, public health and other disciplines, the university’s statement said.

“There is very little that technology at a university does not touch,” Pitt said in the statement. “A technology leader must create an environment where the community can use all of the technology tools in the most effective way to serve the institution.”

The university’s IT team needs to be “flexible and innovative” — while ensuring its “core systems remain strong,” Latham said in the interview, noting the ongoing need to strengthen cybersecurity while aligning with the university’s needs Support research data processing and data storage in the cloud.

Pill “is well aware of our goals in advancing our undergraduate learning systems and …[expanding]research, which requires a really strong partnership,” Latham said. She will “listen first and then mobilize our units,” Latham added.

As a leader, Pitt will continue to focus on “institutional equity and diversity,” she noted in the statement. At the University of Delaware, Pitt’s IT team developed a program for women in IT and offered support to Delaware’s Girls Who Code program, the statement said.

“One of the things that really drew me about Brown was his broad commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, and the fact that Brown actually has assessment criteria and metrics around DEI for every department in the university,” Pitt said in the statement . “I have embraced DEI as a leader and will continue to passionately embrace DEI at Brown.”