Sree Sreenivasan named Columbia University’s first Chief Digital Officer

All Things D
A fixture at Columbia University since he arrived as a student in 1992, Sree Sreenivasan — most recently dean of student affairs at the Graduate School of Journalism — will become the university’s first chief digital officer.

“If you know anyone in the New York media scene, then you either know Sree, or you know someone who does,” wrote former student Arik Hesseldahl at All Things D, with the first news of the move.

“He has done just about everything one can do at the school,” said J-school Dean Nicholas Lemann in a note announcing the change (below). “As much as any single person, he has been the keeper of the heart and soul of the Journalism School.”

Sreenivasan begins his new job immediately, reporting directly to the provost. He will remain a member of the J-school faculty.

Ernest Sotomayor, who has been assistant dean for career services, takes over as the dean of student affairs.

Sreenivasan, who co-wrote Poynter’s Web Tips column for five years, was most recently at the institute last month for TEDx.

From: Nicholas Lemann
Sent: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 5:01 PM
Subject: An announcement

Dear Friends,

Sree Sreenivasan has just started work in Low Library as Chief Digital Officer of Columbia University, reporting to Provost John Coatsworth. In that role he will oversee the university’s efforts to determine and execute its online education strategy, and will be a resource on digital and social media.

Sree has been at the Journalism School continuously since he arrived as a student in the fall of 1992. He has done just about everything one can do at the school, as both a faculty member and an administrator. As much as any single person, he has been the keeper of the heart and soul of the Journalism School. In particular, he has been essential, beginning with his first days here, in bringing together the school and the digital revolution.

He has been a superb evangelist for both causes, and has helped establish the school’s international reputation for leadership in digital journalism. In recent years, Sree inaugurated an important new job at the school, Dean of Student Affairs, in which he oversaw the administrative and physical integration of all functions directly touching the lives of our students.

Those under a certain age won’t get the reference, but I like to think of the Journalism School as a Schwab’s Drugstore of academic administration. In the last few years we have lost three of our senior administrators to big promotions, two internal at Columbia, one external. That’s a tribute to the good health and steady progress of our institution. We’ll miss Sree’s daily presence — though he will remain a member of the Journalism School faculty and will continue teaching here as his schedule allows — but as his friends, we wouldn’t be doing him a favor by failing to applaud this wonderful opportunity to serve the wider university.

Ernest Sotomayor is our new Dean of Student Affairs. Since coming to the Journalism School seven years ago, Ernest has worked miracles in building what is by far the strongest career services office at any journalism school. This year, once again, the office set records for employer participation in our spring career fair, and for the percentage of students employed in journalism at graduation. This performance is tribute to Ernest’s skill both internally, as a manager, and externally, as a master salesman of our students to news organizations. During the past academic year, Ernest has worked another miracle, by successfully launching an ambitious new program of fee-based continuing education under Arlene Morgan’s direction.

Before coming to the Journalism School, Ernest had a long and distinguished career in newspaper journalism, most recently at Newsday. He has also been one of the country’s leading figures in promoting diversity in journalism, via his longtime activities in the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and in UNITY, of which he is a past president. As all of you know, he has continued that commitment in his work here.

Ernest will supervise, as Sree did, three offices at the Journalism School: Admissions and Financial Aid, Student Services, and Career Services.

We will celebrate these promotions, though I’m inclined to do so a little later, when we’d get better attendance than we would in mid-July.

Congratulations to Sree and Ernest!

Best,
Nick Lemann

From: John Coatsworth
Sent: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 5:01 PM
Subject: Sree Sreenivasan appointed Chief Digital Officer, Office of the Provost

Dear Colleagues,

I am very pleased to announce that I have appointed Sree Sreenivasan as Columbia University’s first Chief Digital Officer. Sree, who was previously Dean of Student Affairs at Columbia’s School of Journalism, joins the Office of the Provost effective immediately.

Sree’s portfolio will cover a broad range of issues at the intersection of technology, education, and digital media. His primary responsibility will be to lead the development of a coordinated university-wide strategy in response to the quickening pace of change in online education and digital media.

This effort will focus on supporting the innovative and exciting distance learning programs run by the School of Continuing Education, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and other academic units, as well as facilitating efforts by other schools at Columbia that want to develop an online curricular presence. At the same time, this effort aims to make the most effective use of Columbia’s academic and financial resources, and incentivize collaboration and the adoption of effective practices across campus. The goal is to ensure that we deploy new tools and technologies in interactive and distance learning to ensure the richest and most dynamic learning environment possible for Columbia’s students.

Sree will work closely with schools, centers, and academic departments, as well as our existing digital development groups such as Columbia’s Center for New Media Teaching and Learning. In addition to his focus on online education, Sree will provide advisory services and programs to schools, faculty and administrators on digital technology and social media, working closely with our Office of Communications and Public Affairs to highlight areas of University leadership. (The role does not affect our existing information technology operations within the division of Student and Administrative Services.)

Sree has spent 20 years on Morningside Heights: one earning his M.S. at the Journalism School and another 19 as a professor, including seven as a dean. Most recently, he was the Journalism School’s Dean of Student Affairs, supervising admissions, student service/life and career services. All the while, he was an active member of the faculty, teaching digital journalism and social media; he will continue to be on the faculty, occasionally teaching there.

He has partnered with many departments across campus, serving as a sounding board, guest speaker, informal consultant and more. Among the honors Sree has received are being named to several lists of digital- and social-media professors to follow; AdAge’s 25 media people to follow on Twitter; and Newsweek’s list of the 20 most influential South Asians in America.

I am confident that Sree’s experience in academic administration and his widely respected expertise in new media technology make him uniquely well-suited for this challenge.

You can connect with him on Twitter (@sree) or Facebook.com/sreetips or the old-fashioned way, via email.

Please join me in welcoming Sree in his new position.

Sincerely,

John H. Coatsworth
Provost

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  • peter herford

    More than a man of his time, a man for the future. Great choice.