Thirsk to head Brown’s digital strategy, tech platforms

PROVIDENCE – After a nationwide search, Brown University has appointed Bill Thirsk chief digital and information officer effective Feb. 1.

The announcement, which came early in December from the Ivy League school, outlined Thirsk’s duties as leading “an integrated and cohesive approach to digital strategy and technology platforms, overseeing a full range of information technology and data functions.”

In addition, Thirsk will head the Brown Digital Transformation Project, an initiative established in 2016 that outlines a more user-centric approach to the school’s digital communication with students and alumni.

Thirsk will succeed Ravi Pendse, vice president for computing and information services and chief information officer, who has served in the role since September 2013.

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In prepared remarks, Thirsk said of the appointment: “I am tremendously excited to join Brown on its journey toward digital transformation. … Brown is well-known for its mission of service and for leveraging technology to enhance academic excellence and engagement with the community. I look forward to being a part of the next era of innovation and discovery at the university.”

Thirsk will report to both Brown Provost Richard M. Locke and Barbara Chernow, executive vice president for finance and administration.

“Bill’s technology background and management experience in both university and private-sector settings demonstrate a strategic understanding of stakeholder and organizational needs,” said Chernow in a statement.

Thirsk currently serves as vice president of information technology and chief information officer at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Before joining the Marist faculty, he worked at SunGard Higher Education collaborating with multiple colleges and universities to define and implement technology strategies and initiatives.

Thirsk has more than three decades worth of experience in higher education technology management. He holds a bachelor’s degree from George Washington University and a master’s degree in business administration from the New York Institute of Technology.

Emily Gowdey-Backus is a staff writer for PBN. You can follow her on Twitter @FlashGowdey or contact her via email, gowdey-backus@pbn.com.