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For Release:
October 15, 2012
Julie K. Little
Vice President, Teaching, Learning, and Professional Development

EDUCAUSE, the association for information technology in higher education, announces its 2012 award recipients—honoring Earving L. Blythe, David G. Swartz, and Melissa Woo.

EDUCAUSE grants its highest honor, the Leadership Award, to individuals whose achievements have had a significant and positive impact on advancing the theory and practice of information technology in higher education. The 2012 Leadership Awards go to Earving L. Blythe, vice president for information technology and CIO, Virginia Tech (retired), and to David G. Swartz, assistant vice president and CIO at American University. The EDUCAUSE Rising Star Award, recognizing exceptional early career leadership, has been granted to Melissa Woo, vice provost for information services and CIO, University of Oregon. The EDUCAUSE Awards Program is sponsored by Moran Technology Consulting, Silver Partner.

The EDUCAUSE Awards Program, under the guidance of the EDUCAUSE Recognition Committee, strives to recognize exceptional leadership and both individual and institutional accomplishments. EDUCAUSE President and CEO Diana Oblinger said: "It is a pleasure to recognize our 2012 award recipients, who have made unique and lasting contributions to EDUCAUSE and the higher education IT community. Erv, Dave, and Melissa exemplify the very best of our profession and set a standard for us all."

The 2012 award recipients will be honored at the association's annual conference November 6–9 in Denver. EDUCAUSE Leadership Award recipients also receive a $3,000 contribution to the fund of their choice. A contribution in Blythe’s name will be made to the Judy Diane Albert Scholarship Fund at Virginia Tech, and a contribution to support emergency student financial aid at American University will be made in Swartz’s name.

2012 EDUCAUSE Leadership Award: Earving L. Blythe

Earving L. Blythe has been one of the foremost leaders in higher education IT, influencing change and new directions in the application of networking technology in higher education.

A unifying theme for Blythe’s accomplishments is his leadership across the interlocking systems of technical, financial, professional, social, and political processes that brought about a fundamental and disruptive change in how we use communications in higher education and beyond. Blythe has played a central role in the proliferation of modern broadband networking by coordinating and educating the stakeholders on his campus, in his profession, in state and local governments, and in industry about the fundamental, qualitative advantages of a new style of networking.

At the same time that Blythe was closely involved in the critical movement toward community-owned, facilities-based networks of regional and national scale, he also made strong contributions through white papers, conferences, and visits to the Hill and the Federal Communications Commission that had demonstrable impact on national policies and programs such as the FCC’s National Broadband Plan, the U.S. Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, and the proper consideration of scope and methods with regard to copyright issues and lawful surveillance on campus networks.

Blythe has repeatedly demonstrated a rare combination of brilliant creativity and pragmatic leadership to drive a long series of groundbreaking initiatives at Virginia Tech including network infrastructure and services; the Faculty Development Initiative Program; the Virginia Education and Research Network (VERnet); the renowned Blacksburg Electronic Village (BEV); NetworkVirginia (NWV); client-server migration of Virginia Tech’s administrative systems to an enterprise-wide, client-server–based resource; System X high performance computing; eCorridors; VT Technology Services and Operations; and more.

Blythe has served as a mentor and a trusted advisor to many of his colleagues at Virginia Tech. He fully recognizes the need for hands-on experience and mentoring to develop future generations of IT leaders. His passion for the university and people has generated tremendous enthusiasm, optimism, and trust in the IT organization across Virginia Tech.

Blythe has continually reinvented and transformed the application of information technology in ways that have enhanced teaching and learning, created competitive advantages for research, and facilitated outreach. His track record of achievement and his clear dedication to service at Virginia Tech have supported his continued leadership at the university over many decades, resulting in profound benefits to the university, to the Commonwealth of Virginia, and to our profession.

2012 EDUCAUSE Leadership Award: David G. Swartz

David G. Swartz, assistant vice president and chief information officer at American University, is recognized for his dedication to demonstrating the value of information technology to fulfill the campus mission and for his overall service to the IT profession.

Throughout his career, Swartz has not feared change as an innovative way to improve IT services to the campus community, and his academic background in economics has served him well in making difficult decisions regarding the associated resource allocations. He understands the need for analytics to measure performance, track progress, and benchmark against peer institutions.

He has transformed the central IT organization at American University into a strategic business partner, enabling the effective and efficient use of technology by the institution. Incorporating fresh ideas and knowledge from past experiences, he successfully introduced industry-standard best practices in IT service management, strategic planning, project management, information security, technology operations, and enterprise infrastructure life-cycle planning. He was also among the first CIOs to understand the need for the role of the chief information security officer to build a strong security program at the institution, specifically, American University. Prior to joining American University he eliminated legacy stovepipe operations and centralized IT across George Washington University to leverage resources and target redundancies. His judicious use of outsourcing arrangements saved the university more than $1 million a year and improved service levels.

Swartz’s many contributions to the profession include serving as faculty at the EDUCAUSE Institute Leadership Program, as council member at the Hawkins Leadership Roundtable, and as the Higher Education Information Security Council (HEISC) Executive Committee Chair. He has demonstrated his wide knowledge of IT issues by speaking at and attended numerous EDUCAUSE conferences and meetings, authoring many publications, and presenting at a variety of venues. He is the recipient of honors and awards from IT authorities such as Computerworld, CIO Magazine, ACUTA, and ACM, as well as EDUCAUSE. He is dedicated to professional development of his staff, with an extraordinary one-to-one ratio for relevant professional certifications for each staff member.

Swartz’s accomplishments and ability to mentor those aspiring to senior IT positions in higher education make him one of the most respected leaders in the profession. As a popular speaker and esteemed colleague, his commitment to the value of information technology in higher education has helped not only the institutions he serves directly but also others across the community.

2012 EDUCAUSE Rising Star Award: Melissa Woo

Melissa Woo, recently named as vice provost for IS and CIO at the University of Oregon, is recognized as a strong leader, one who is expected to achieve continued success in the profession. She has been known for her achievements in cyberinfrastructure and support for the research enterprise, IT organizational development and effective practices, and IT infrastructure deployment and management.

At the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee (UWM), Woo led the promotion of a central, core research cyberinfrastructure service without identified funding or widespread research faculty support. She chartered and staffed a faculty/staff committee, led by a respected faculty researcher, to identify related campus issues and make recommendations. The result was a series of far-reaching recommendations made to executive leadership to improve the campus research cyberinfrastructure. She has presented numerous times on the high-performance computing support model, which could be fully adoptable by other universities.

One of the infrastructure initiatives started by Woo was the UWM identity and access management (IAM) program. Since its inception in 2010, the program has aggressively completed a number of significant milestones: the campus Active Directory was transformed from a service with no identified support to one with a stable support structure; a SAML service was deployed to support federation and enterprise single sign-on; and UWM became a member of the InCommon and eduroam federations. As a result, UWM is actively engaged in activities supporting establishment of InCommon Silver compliance implementation best practices for use by other higher education institutions.

Woo is a strong supporter of staff professional development, particularly in the area of mentoring. As chair of the EDUCAUSE Professional Development Advisory Committee, she instituted a major revision of the EDUCAUSE Mentoring Information Kit to focus on new mentoring styles appropriate to 21st-century professionals and an agreement between mentors and mentees before they enter into a relationship. Additionally, she collaborated with another UWM colleague to develop two mentoring pilots for the EDUCAUSE regional conferences: "minute mentoring," which provides advice on specific topics in a "speed dating" format, and a program to match mentors and mentees during conferences, launched at the 2012 EDUCAUSE Midwest Regional Conference.

Woo is a collaborative change agent and natural leader, still early in her career, and able to accomplish what is needed for campus information technology. She is an ideal recipient of the EDUCAUSE Rising Star Award. 


EDUCAUSE is a nonprofit association and the foremost community of IT leaders and professionals committed to advancing higher education. EDUCAUSE programs and services are focused on analysis, advocacy, community building, professional development, and knowledge creation because IT plays a transformative role in higher education. EDUCAUSE supports those who lead, manage, and use information technology through a comprehensive range of resources and activities. For more information, visit