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Commentary: Meet the New VP, CIO for University Office of President

“Technology came into my life accidentally as simply a way to pay for college,” says Van Williams. “Professionally, I’ve worked in so many areas of IT that I’ve started to lose count. I’ve worked as a systems admin, database admin and developer, software engineer, network administrator, and in various architecture roles.”

Van Williams is the newly named vice president for Information Technology Services and chief information officer for the University of California Office of the President. He published this blog post last week on the UC IT Blog.

Hello to the UC Tech community! I am thrilled to be the University of California’s new vice president for Information Technology Services. I am intensely passionate about the roles that both technology and higher education play in the lives of individuals, society and business. In my life, they have provided me with a network of friends, mentors and colleagues who have shaped my life and changed my life’s trajectory.
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I was born in the Bahamas and spent my early years there. I moved to New York City for high school and spent the next two decades there. In college, my passion was studying classical civilization, the languages of Latin and ancient Greek in particular.

Technology came into my life accidentally as simply a way to pay for college. Professionally, I’ve worked in so many areas of IT that I’ve started to lose count. I’ve worked as a systems admin, database admin and developer, software engineer, network administrator, and in various architecture roles.

From the times of ancient Greece, when the analog computer was invented, until today when we are pushing the boundaries with quantum computing, working in technology has never been about the technology. It is about understanding and solving problems. It is about having empathy for and understanding of people and the roles they play. It is about participating in a community of artisans, engineers and designers who together are building upon the work of those who came before them. Most importantly, it is about the trust we build with our partners, customers and colleagues who look to us not just to help amplify and accelerate the work but, increasingly, to protect it.

I am excited to be a part of the University of California because of the opportunity to help shape the impact that UC can have on the lives of its students, the state of California and, indeed, the world. No matter how you measure it – whether it be by research impact, impact on student lives, the diversification of our workforce, impact on local GDP, community service, or thought leadership – UC is unlike any other institution in the world.

Although the UC has been here for 153 years before I arrived and it will be here long after me, I am driven by one thing: to try and leave things better than I found them. I am excited about the opportunity to contribute to strengthening the institution, strengthening the community and strengthening our partnership with the state of California.

Over the next several months, my work as vice president will focus on the areas I believe are foundational: deeply understanding problems, building empathy for and understanding of the people and roles, participating and strengthening the tech community, and cultivating trust. I will be meeting with and intently listening to leadership in the Office of the President and the campuses, to IT and non-IT staff across the system, and to students, alumni, and other stakeholders in UC.

In time I hope to create a deeply collaborative vision for IT that is supportive of and aligned to UC’s goals of access, affordability and excellence. I know that together we will find a path forward that contributes to increasing UC’s value for the state of California.

If you have ideas or suggestions, do not hesitate to reach out to me at VPIT@ucop.edu. I look forward to meeting many of you over the months ahead and working together for the long term.