July 18, 2019 | 74° F

Rutgers' OIT head Donald Smith readies to retire

Photo by Rutgers University |

Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer (CIO) Donald Smith will retire from the University later this year, ending a multi-decade career at Rutgers, nearly 10 of which were spent in a leadership position.

Smith has been a part of the University for more than 25 years, said University President Robert L. Barchi in a letter to faculty and staff.

He will be replaced by Michele Norin, CIO and vice president for Information Technology at the University of Arizona, Barchi said. It took about eight months to fill the position.

“I want to thank and applaud Don Smith,” he said. “(He) informed us in February of his intention to retire (but) has agreed to stay on and assist (Norin) in the transition to new IT leadership.”

As an instructor at Rutgers, Smith worked on parallel computing and simulation software, according to his staff page.

Norin announced her new post to students, faculty and staff members at UA on Monday in a blog post and said she would become the senior vice president for Information Technology and CIO.

“I am equally excited about my new position,” she said. “I view this move as a progressive step in my career, certainly fueled by what I’ve learned (at UA).”

Norin oversaw information technology security and development, according to UA’s website. Phone and Internet services, classroom technology, student support and other technology systems also fell under her purview.

She was appointed as UA’s CIO in 2007 and has served the institution in that capacity since.

The University’s IT department was completely changed during that time, according to a letter by Andrew Comrie, senior vice president for Academic Affairs and Provost at UA. Her work resulted in the nation’s most efficient campus Wi-Fi system, with better coverage and greater accessibility than any others.

Rutgers has several wireless networks that people can use on campus to access the Internet and local services.

Network speed and data storage were both also upgraded during her time, Comrie said.

Norin received the “Education CIO of the Year” award by the Arizona Technology Council for her work improving administrative systems and building new infrastructure for the business department, Comrie said.

She was also recognized as one of “Computerworld’s Premier 100 Leaders for 2015,” Barchi said. She was 1 of 7 officials from academic institutions to earn this distinction.

Smith was appointed CIO and vice president for Information Technology in 2007, Barchi said. Before then, he was a faculty member in the Department of Computer Science. He is also part of the University's Administrative Council.

Rutgers has been hit by several Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks over the last year, with the most recent taking place at the end of September. These attacks have disrupted student registration and forced the University to change final exam plans, according to The Daily Targum.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is working with local police and Rutgers to apprehend the individual or group responsible.

In response to the attacks, the University also hired three companies — FishNet Security, Level 3 Communications and Imperva — over the summer to negate the impact a DDoS has. This did not prevent the most recent attack.

Network access to certain countries were also restricted by the Network Operations Center to further reduce the likelihood of another attack, according to an email sent to the net-people mailing list after September.

Norin will report directly to Barchi in her “newly elevated position” and will be part of his cabinet, he said. Her role will include working with senior leadership at the University to upgrade existing IT services.

Improving the use of technology in the classroom will be another of her goals, he said.

“Like Rutgers, the University of Arizona is a research-intensive, land-grant institution with two medical schools,” he said. “It ranks 19th among U.S. public universities in research and development expenditures.”

According to the Office of Research and Economic Development, Rutgers ranks sixth out of the Big Ten schools and remains within the top 30 of all schools nationwide for research expenses.

Norin’s term begins on Dec. 1.

“I look forward to working with Michele, and I know you will warmly welcome her to the Rutgers community,” Barchi said.

Nikhilesh De

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