CHAPEL HILL – University of North Carolina System President Margaret Spellings announced the appointment of two senior leaders responsible for improving online education programs as well as the oversight of all information technology operations for the UNC System.
Dr. Jim Ptaszynski was appointed as the Vice President for Digital Learning, whose primary responsibilities include implementing a digital learning action plan and leading a new UNC System advisory council for online education and digital learning. He will also conduct research to determine the needs in online education that are most relevant to current and future industry demands as well as economic development. Finally, Ptaszynski will help identify and facilitate creation of unique programs tailored to fit regional economic needs and entrepreneurial opportunities and support the development of degree programs with contemporary delivery methods such as micro- and nano- credential and competency based systems.
In addition, Keith Werner was appointed as the new Vice President for Information Technology (VPIT) and Chief Information Officer. In his new role, Werner will oversee information technology policy and standards, information security, enterprise business systems, applications development, information technology infrastructure and operations, networking and communications, and software licensing. In addition, Werner will focus on system-wide coordination and monitoring of constituent institution activities related to information technology.
“The strategic use of new technology can greatly expand education opportunities while making our operations more effective and efficient,” said President Spellings. “Keith Werner and Jim Ptaszynski bring decades of experience in delivering innovative and strategic solutions in operations management, IT solution management and service delivery. We’re excited to welcome them to our team!”
Ptaszynski has spent a significant portion of his career working to improve access to higher education through technology. He served as Senior Fellow for Postsecondary Success at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Ptaszynski also served as associate dean at the Graduate School of Management at Wake Forest University before spending nearly 20 years at Microsoft where he was responsible for helping colleges and universities, as well as individual faculty members, integrate technology into their teaching and learning activities. He also served on the U.S. Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education (Spellings Commission), the Middle East Institute for Higher Education as well as many other taskforces and as a trusted advisor to numerous educational organizations including serving on the Council of Senior Advisors to the International Association of University Presidents (IAUP).
Prior to his position at the UNC System, Werner worked for Ernst & Young as its public sector leader for North Carolina and South Carolina. Werner also served as the State Chief Information Officer (CIO) and first Cabinet Secretary for the North Carolina Department of Information Technology (DIT) where he led all technology solutions for state agencies and citizens and directed organizational operations and change management to modernize how core business needs were supported. He has also held leadership roles as the Deputy State CIO and the CIO for the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).