Timothy C. Ferguson

Innovation and service were his first undertakings

Timothy C. Ferguson inherited an underfunded IT department grappling with a stagnant infrastructure and a failing SAP project when he became CIO and associate provost for IT at Northern Kentucky University in 2007. So his first task, he says, was to transform the department into a forward-leaning organization focused on delivering innovation and service.

A 1985 Northern Kentucky University graduate, Ferguson, 48, started working on the transformation immediately. He sold executives at the Highland Heights, Ky., university on the need to invest more in IT by showing them how much they could accomplish by better utilizing technology. He cultivated relationships with business partners by speaking to them in their terms. And he pushed his own staff to see themselves as innovators who needed to enable the school to do more.

Those cultural shifts have allowed Ferguson and his staff to focus on how technology can support the university's goals as well as the needs of faculty, staff and students. His team expanded Wi-Fi access across the campus and created one of the first smartphone applications for students. IT is also implementing a system that allows students to play back lectures and other classroom content at any time, and a registration system that allows students to sign up for their classes online.

"Tim is a forward-thinking leader who understands where technology is going and how an organization can position itself to capitalize on the opportunities inherent in the technology," says Gail Wells, vice president for academic affairs and provost.

Mary K. Pratt is a Computerworld contributing writer in Waltham, Mass. Contact her at marykpratt@verizon.net.

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