The University of Texas-Pan American has announced the recent appointment of Dr. Gary L. Wiggins as the University's first vice president for Information Technology. Wiggins, who was hired as the University's Chief Information Officer approximately one year ago, joins four other UTPA vice presidents heading up the divisions of Academic Affairs, External Affairs, Enrollment and Student Services and Business Affairs.
"Dr. Wiggins has been serving as the University's chief information officer for the past year and has brought unity, leadership, and vision to the division. Dr. Wiggins has earned this position and I am pleased to appoint him to serve in this capacity. We look forward to his continued vision, leadership and dedication to this vitally important aspect of the University's present and future achievements," UTPA President Dr. Blandina Cárdenas said.
"I think the change (to a division) is an appropriate recognition of the role IT needs to play in helping meet the strategic goals and objectives of the University. It is also, of course, recognition of all the challenges and challenging opportunities UTPA will face in the area of information and technology in the next few years," Wiggins said.
A native of Lubbock, Wiggins served as vice president for information technology and chief information officer at Oklahoma State University. Prior to that he was chief information officer at Texas Tech University, where he was employed for 12 years. Wiggins received his doctorate in mathematics in 1978 from Texas Tech, where he also earned his undergraduate and master's degrees.
Currently Wiggins oversees 115 full-time employees and approximately 180 part-time employees, most of them students. He said at this point there will be little change in the number of employees or in his duties with the shift of IT to divisional status. Wiggins proudly described the many accomplishments in every department of IT over the past year.
"In telecommunications, we had the campus wireless network, significant upgrades to the infrastructure for both the voice and data networks, and the project to equip more than 70 technology-supported classrooms. The Internet services team first created itself as an independent unit and then developed our first portal applications, took the lead on the new student e-mail project and worked with several colleges and departments on improving their Internet presence," he said.
Wiggins also cited the IT security group's progress on effectively handling spam and its move to work more closely with other University departments on prevention. He said academic computing employees reorganized and upgraded the University's helpdesk and desktop support units, distributed hundreds of new computers around campus, and made a start toward offering regular planned support to researchers. At the Computer Center, he said, gains were made in managing servers, developing several new software applications and putting a new e-mail system in place for faculty and staff for use in 2006. The Computer Center also had Oracle implementation, an approximately $10 million project initiated in 2004 which has faced some delays at the University, as a principal focus.
"I have to mention the work people did in getting the Oracle project restarted and going. The first portal application went into production in early February. The major components of the Oracle system, the human resources and financial systems, are on track for going live Sept. 1, the start of the new fiscal year," said Wiggins, noting Oracle e-mail and student recruiting software were discontinued and new solutions in those areas are being reviewed.
While Wiggins is proud of the concrete accomplishments, he credits his staff with something even greater in importance but less tangible.
"I think we are on our way to having an IT division that is active and aggressive, consciously in step with the needs and strategic goals of the University, focused on students and functioning consistently as a group of good and engaged colleagues for the people we work with from the other divisions around the University," he said.
Short-term goals for the future, he said, include finishing the Oracle project, extending the wireless network to the residence halls, completing the campus e-mail project, working on campus Web sites, delivering more portal services, improving security, working on planning for possible disasters and disruptions, and working with students and student government to deliver better service to students.
"Long term, we want to provide the IT infrastructure and support that are necessary for the type and size of university that UTPA is becoming," he said.