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UMN-Duluth names alumnus, teacher and leader Jason Davis director of Information Technology

A lifelong love of learning and teaching – in Jujutsu, Education, technology – will help him bring a unique leadership approach to role
February 17, 2015
Jason Davis

My focus will be to navigate the rapidly changing landscape of learning and technology, and position UMD for future success.

University of Minnesota at Duluth (UMD) has announced Jason Davis as its new Director of Information Technology Systems and Services (ITSS). A UMD alumnus, teacher and veteran campus leader, Davis will oversee all administrative and operational activities of the University's Information Technology area, serving more than 10,000 students, faculty members and staff.

"I have great enthusiasm for how we contribute to the academic mission of our campus," said Davis, who is known for his collaborative leadership style and focus on teamwork. "We have done good work, but we can't rest on past achievements. My focus will be to navigate the rapidly changing landscape of learning and technology, and position UMD for future success."

Tradition of strong IT leadership continues

Davis, who served as interim IT director for eight months during the position search, replaces Linda Deneen who retired earlier this year. Deneen served as ITSS director for 22 years, cultivated a strong culture, and built effective processes, procedures and teams.

"The tradition of strong IT leadership continues," said Dr. Andrea Schokker, UMD's Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. "I am looking forward to seeing the continued excellent work in ITSS under Jason's leadership."

In this role, Davis will lead efforts to build and maintain a high-quality, reliable and innovative technology platform. Among his first priorities: continue building state-of-the-art active learning spaces; launch a new web design and content management system; manage a system-wide software upgrade for finance, student systems and human resources; and oversee early implementation of a new telephone system upgrade.

He and his team also will collaborate with the University's central IT function, including building strong relationships with technologists and colleagues in colleges and academic units across the University of Minnesota (UMN) campus system.

As student, teacher and IT leader, Davis brings a wealth of experience

Davis brings a wealth of experience to this position. He joined ITSS in 1996 and has worn many hats throughout his career. These have included:

  • Student: He is a lifelong learner, earning a bachelor's degree in English and a master's degrees in Liberal Studies at UMD. He holds a doctorate in Educational Policy and Administration from UMN-Twin Cities. He also participates in the IT Strategic Leaders Institute UMN Cohort to advance leadership development and help develop IT's five-year strategic plan across the UMN system.
  • Teacher: Davis sees many parallels between teaching Jujutsu and serving as an IT leader. "Jujutsu means gentle technique,'" Davis explains. "It's a controlled discipline that helps me react calmly in managing daily challenges of IT."
  • IT Leader: Prior to this role, Jason served as UMD's IT Manager of Academic Technology/Finance and Manager of Classroom Technology/Customer Service.

In addition, Davis has served in a variety of campus leadership roles, including as chair of the University Coordinating Council (2014 - present); a member of the Program Prioritization Committee - Administrative and Service Units (2013); and chair of the UMD Staff Council (2013 – present). He also is an accomplished conference speaker. He has been recognized three times with the UMD Project Outstanding Service Award (2003, 2011, Honorable Mention 2013) for significant contributions to the University.

For more information, contact Earl Johnston, Director of Communications, University of Minnesota Office of Information Technology at earlrj3@umn.edu.