CHAMPAIGN — The University of Illinois has named a retired assistant dean to serve as interim chief information officer of the Urbana campus for at least a year.
Paul Hixson — who retired in August 2010 as assistant dean and director of information technology and communication services for the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences — will fill the position held by Sally Jackson, who resigned in April. Hixson will earn $200,000 annually.
Hixson's appointment is expected to last at least a year, in part so he can oversee the campus' transition to a unified communications system, officials said.
Jackson, who had held the position since May 2007, left in protest of administrative changes that she believed would harm the campus' global leadership in information technology. She remains at the UI a professor of communication and an associate provost.
Jackson and the chief information officers at the Springfield and Chicago campuses had been instructed to report to a new university-level CIO rather than their respective provosts. Central administrators said the new position will better coordinate IT operations — and ultimately save money — and won't threaten academic autonomy. But campus officials feared that the change could turn IT into a "back-office" function rather than an integral part of learning and research.
Hixson was selected by Richard Wheeler, interim vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost, and Michael Hites, the university's new executive chief information officer.