Isaacson, Miller Tapped by Harvard University to Find Chief Information Officer  

Information technology strategy, policies and services that support teaching, learning and research are among the key responsibilities of this vital role. The Boston-based search firm reports that Harvard is providing an outstanding opportunity for a forward-looking, highly effective, and deeply knowledgeable leader to guide a talented, energetic, and committed team of information technology professionals. Let’s go inside the search.

June 2, 2021 – Isaacson, Miller continues to be the go-to recruiter for Harvard University. This time the school has retained the search firm to find a chief information officer. Partner Daniel Rodas, president Vivian Brocard, and senior associate Joanna Cook are leading the assignment. Isaacson, Miller said the position represents an outstanding opportunity for a forward-looking, highly effective and deeply knowledgeable leader to guide a talented, energetic, and committed team of information technology professionals to meet the varied and extensive needs of the Harvard community. The university has exceptional standards and high ambitions in its educational and research agendas, and a top performing IT organization is critical to their achievement.

Serving as a member of the Harvard’s executive leadership team, the CIO is responsible for information technology strategy, policies and services that support teaching, learning and research across the school. The CIO also maintains strong connections to the university’s academic mission through reporting relationships with the dean of the faculty of arts and sciences and the provost. The CIO heads Harvard University Information Technology (HUIT), a $200 million central IT organization with a staff of 640. HUIT is directly responsible for operating and supporting university enterprise systems, central administration’s IT needs, and IT for the faculty of arts and sciences. The CIO works closely with and convenes the school CIOs by chairing the university’s CIO Council, which comprises the IT leads of each school. In collaboration with Harvard’s CIO Council, HUIT fosters innovation across the university, in partnership with many departments and groups throughout the institution.

The successful candidate will be an imaginative information technology leader and an outstanding manager with an instinct for consultation and a talent for collaboration, according to Isaacson, Miller. “The ideal candidate will bring experience in a complex organization and knowledge of a spectrum of technology issues from infrastructure to research computing, to teaching and learning, to enterprise systems supporting the business needs of the university,” the firm said. “They will have a proven record of building and developing high-performing teams and sustaining productive working relationships with colleagues and partners across their organization.” The successful candidate will also understand the importance of recruiting, developing, and leading a diverse and vibrant workforce. The new CIO will bring a deep and expansive understanding of the potential information technology has to advance the purposes of a preeminent teaching and research institution.

Since its founding in 1636, Harvard has focused on excellence in teaching, learning and research, creating knowledge and developing global leaders across a breadth of disciplines. The university has 12 degree-granting schools in addition to the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The university enrolls over 20,000 degree-seeking candidates, including undergraduate, graduate and professional students, and counts more than 360,000 alumni around the world.

Other Recent Position Filled

Last year, Harvard University turned to Isaacson, Miller to recruit Sherri Ann Charleston as the school’s chief diversity and inclusion officer. She starts her new role on Saturday. Partners Keight Tucker Kennedy and Ponneh Varho led the search along with senior associate Sonia Gomez. “Sherri is an administrative leader and interdisciplinary scholar whose work at the intersection of history and law informs her efforts to translate theory into practice that improves higher education,” said Larry Bacow, president of Harvard. “She is widely admired for her ability to integrate all aspects of an institution into her strategic thinking and decision-making. I welcome Sherri’s leadership and expertise in this important area.”

A historian trained in U.S. history with a focus on race, women, gender, citizenship and the law, and an attorney with a specialization in constitutional and employment law, Ms. Charleston most recently served as assistant vice provost for diversity, equity and inclusion, and chief affirmative action officer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Related: Academic Sector Pumping Big Fees Into Search Firms

In addition, Harvard Business School (HBS) recently retained Isaacson, Miller to lead its search for a chief diversity officer. The search is believed to be near the final stages. In September, the school announced the Harvard Business School Action Plan for Racial Equity, an ambitious effort to advance racial equity both within and beyond the school. This roadmap includes the school’s plan to hire a chief diversity officer, expand its case-study offerings on race and diversity issues, and recruit more black students and faculty. “We hadn’t made the progress I had hoped we would make,” Nitin Nohria, dean of the school, told the Wall Street Journal. “Race needs its own independent focus.”

Veteran Search Firm

A nationally recognized search firm focused on recruiting transformational leaders for mission-driven organizations, Isaacson, Miller has conducted thousands of placements over more than three decades. More than half of the firm’s work has been in academia, involving university presidents, college chancellors and deans. The firm has filled top leadership posts at Wellesley College, Washington State University, Miami University, Howard University, Bowdoin College, Dartmouth, NYU, Virginia State University, and the University of North Carolina, among others. Mr. Isaacson founded Isaacson, Miller in 1982.

Isaacson, Miller Appoints New President and CEO
The board of directors of Isaacson, Miller has appointed Ericka Miller as the firm’s next president and CEO. She will officially start her term on July 1, 2021, upon the retirement of current president Vivian Brocard. “As one of the first women of color to lead a major national executive search firm, Ericka brings a deep and lifelong commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion, consistent with Isaacson, Miller’s core values,” the search firm said.

“Ericka has done an excellent job of building and leading our PreK-12 education and education improvement practice, chairing the promotions committee, and serving as an indispensable member of the board of directors,” said John Isaacson, founder and chair of Isaacson, Miller. “She distinguished herself with her colleagues on the board and was their unanimous choice for president and CEO,” Mr. Isaacson said. “They are both proud and grateful to welcome her as the successor to Vivian. Vivian has led the firm skillfully and leaves an outstanding legacy. She and Ericka will manage the transition together.”

Mr. Rodas joined the firm in 2013 after a career in higher education spanning over two decades. At Isaacson, Miller, he has built a multi-faceted search practice, leading recruitment assignments in higher education, academic medicine, research institutes, independent schools, and other non-profit organizations. He has a track record of recruiting financial and operational leaders for leading institutions nationally. Mr. Rodas has also led searches for department heads, deans, and provosts, as well as leaders in numerous functional areas, including enrollment management, information technology, human resources, facilities management, procurement, data analytics, institutional research, emergency management and public safety. Prior to joining the firm, he served as vice president for planning and VP for human resources at Long Island University, as well as provost of Southampton College.

Ms. Brocard joined Isaacson, Miller in 2003 following nearly 20 years of executive search experience in business and technology. She joined the firm’s executive committee in 2010, and in 2016, she assumed the role of president. Working closely with the chair, the executive committee and the management committee, Ms. Brocard guides firm strategy and execution and oversees firm-wide operations. Over her tenure at Isaacson, Miller, Ms. Brocard has built a highly regarded national practice focused on leadership roles in higher education, healthcare, and research with particular expertise in engineering, science and technology. She has served universities, colleges, academic medical centers, research institutes, advocacy groups and related organizations, and her clients have spanned public and private institutions across the U.S.

Ms. Cook has worked across many sectors since joining Isaacson, Miller in 2016. Clients include liberal arts and humanities schools as well as engineering and science institutions. She has also worked with several foundations and non-profit community organizations. Among her high-profile searches are the presidential searches at Interlochen Center for the Arts and Sarah Lawrence College and the inaugural Pritzker Director of the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation at the University of Chicago.

Related: Why Universities Have Stepped Up Efforts to Involve Search Firms

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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