IU CIO Brad Wheeler earns EDUCAUSE Leadership Award

  • Sept. 19, 2013


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- EDUCAUSE has granted its highest honor -- the Leadership Award for individual achievement -- to Brad Wheeler, Indiana University vice president for information technology, CIO and Kelley School of Business professor. EDUCAUSE is a nonprofit association for IT leaders and professionals in higher education.

The annual EDUCAUSE awards recognize exceptional leadership in individual and institutional accomplishments. EDUCAUSE will honor Wheeler at the association's annual conference Oct. 15 to 18 in Anaheim, Calif. As the Leadership Award recipient, Wheeler has directed the $3,000 award to the IU Scholarship Fund.

Over the past 10 years, Wheeler has established IU as a leader in multi-institution collaborations. He is a co-founder of the Sakai Project, the Kuali Foundation, the HathiTrust, the Digital Preservation Network and Net+ Services at Internet2. Each of these has refined effective models for institutions and commercial firms to collaborate in new ways that address both the economic and innovation challenges of colleges and universities.

Wheeler’s writings and work with hundreds of institutions helped distinguish the community source model for pooled institutional investments to create and sustain open source software. He is also the principal investigator or co-PI on more than $10 million in foundation grants that helped support well over $50 million of institutional investment in community-based work. That work has helped IU avoid nearly $20 million in costs by implementing the Kuali open source financial system.

“Brad’s superb leadership of Indiana University’s IT efforts has allowed IU to continue to be a leader in the uses and applications of information technology,” said IU President Michael A. McRobbie. “Brad led the development and continues to lead the implementation of IU’s second strategic IT plan. The innovative eTexts initiative, which Brad also spearheaded, has helped to transform the way students obtain and use digital course materials. Brad has also been instrumental in guiding the development of the university’s newest IT facilities, including the Cyberinfrastructure Building, which houses our IT staff, and the IU Data Center, which ensures the safety and security of our networking, computer processing and data storage equipment.

“I have had the pleasure of working with Brad for a number of years, during which time he has been a trusted advisor and forward-thinking leader of IU's internationally acclaimed IT resources," McRobbie added. "Under Brad’s leadership, IU has continued to push the boundaries of high-speed computing, as evidenced earlier this year by the acquisition of the world’s first petaFLOPS supercomputer operated purely as a dedicated university resource. Brad’s strategy of leadership via aggregation, partnership and collaboration ensures a future of even more promising outcomes for IT in higher education."

EDUCAUSE President and CEO Diana Oblinger said, “When you think about Brad, words come to mind like visionary, powerful, persuasive and driven. He doesn’t just talk about big ideas; he puts them into action. And the ideas are so persuasive that others join in. He is a great communicator. He is also a strategist. And he has a marvelously catalytic effect on others. He can encourage you to do things you might never have tried without his encouragement.”

In 2009, the IU Office of the Vice President for Information Technology was recognized among the nation’s top 100 organizations by CIO magazine for its leadership in developing open-source software with dozens of colleges, universities and commercial partners. In 2012, the Chronicle of Higher Education named Wheeler one of its “12 Tech Innovators Who Are Transforming Campuses,” and the same year he was named to Government Technology’s list of “Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers in Public Sector Innovation.”

“I am deeply honored and grateful to receive this tremendous award from the EDUCAUSE community,” Wheeler said. “IU’s extraordinary IT team has made it possible for IU to be a ‘partner of choice’ with many of the best institutions and firms in the nation and the world. We’ve collectively learned how to collaborate together in ways that bring timely new efficiencies to the important work of higher education.”

Wheeler’s philosophy of “Edge, Leverage and Trust” has achieved new levels of effective collaboration among IU’s eight campuses and many schools and departments. He leads an IT services culture with a collaborative leadership style that encourages innovation and reasoned risk taking.

In 2008, he pioneered Adobe’s first enterprise-wide licensing agreement for all 100,000-plus students, faculty and staff at IU. Since Wheeler became vice president in 2007, the IU IT organization has netted $114 million in external contracts and grants and has twice been recognized among Computerworld’s “100 Best Places to Work in IT,” in 2010 and 2011. Wheeler was first appointed IU associate dean for teaching and learning IT in 2002 by then-Vice President for IT Michael A. McRobbie.

Concern about the high cost of higher education and its impact on students and their families led Wheeler to develop IU’s pioneering eTexts initiative in 2009. By substantially reducing the costs of textbooks while increasing their effectiveness, the IU eTexts model is transforming the way students on all IU campuses obtain and use their digital course materials. Wheeler and IU were honored with three awards for these eTexts accomplishments: 2013 Computerworld Honors Laureate, 2012 CIO 100 award and the IMS Global Learning Consortium’s Learning Impact Award (gold).

Wheeler has been an active contributor to EDUCAUSE since 2004, most recently serving as a member of the EDUCAUSE Board (2009-12) and as its treasurer (2010-11) and vice chair in 2012. He is widely published on topics of high importance to the community.