2018 Community Leadership Award Recipient

James Phelps

James Phelps

Director of Enterprise Architecture and Strategy at the University of Washington 


For exemplary leadership, strategic vision, and influence in the field of enterprise architecture and other emerging technology initiatives; for community-building within the IT profession; for foresight in assessing the evolving landscape and cultivating vision to solve problems both inside his institution and across higher education

The 2018 EDUCAUSE Community Leadership Award is presented to James Phelps, Director of Enterprise Architecture and Strategy at the University of Washington, for his unique and remarkable contributions to information technology and the higher education community, including his prescient understanding of the importance that enterprise architecture will have in both commercial and academic enterprises.

Jim’s strong sense of giving back to the community and contributing to the common good was present in his early career choice to work on medical products to assist in the treatment of brain tumors. Building on his passion to employ technology in the service of others, Jim returned to higher education and, over the past twenty-four years, has served in a variety of roles and across multiple institutions and organizations. Each step of his journey has brought increased responsibility and expanded leadership.

During his work at the Biological Computing Consortium at Oregon State University, Jim promoted a holistic vision of information technology, working collaboratively with staff and researchers to develop a suite of services in support of his vision, guiding the organization to new funding and staffing models, and developing pathways to larger opportunities and success. When Jim’s career led him to a position as an enterprise architect at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, he worked with key university leaders to promote a deeper understanding of the strategic role that information technology could play in the university’s mission and established a series of IT solutions that fundamentally changed the ways the university conducted its business. He also worked to build deep collaborative partnerships between the administrative units and the IT organization to improve the student experience.

While at UW–Madison, Jim worked with Internet2 to help spread knowledge and teach best practices surrounding the emerging issue of identity and access management. These efforts led him to work with the leadership of Internet2 and EDUCAUSE to found Itana (so named for its focus on IT Architecture iN Academia). Jim’s vision for the organization has guided Itana through an expansion in both its focus and its membership—from a small group at its inception to a current group of over 700 active constituents. And Jim’s masterful facilitation of the group has created in Itana a program that engages its participants in face-to-face gatherings and every-other-week call-in programs.

In his current role as Director of Enterprise Architecture and Strategy at the University of Washington, Jim is building on his deep understanding of enterprise architecture and the field’s changing and exceedingly more critical role in today’s business transformation. Having served as a coach and mentor to many other enterprise architects over the span of his career, he recognizes the need for diversity in both technology and architecture services and is promoting outreach efforts. These include the EDUCAUSE Women in IT Constituent Group, with the hopes of increasing the number of women in architectural leadership roles.

Jim has been a strong advocate of EDUCAUSE through his writings and his participation at conferences and in constituent groups. Beyond EDUCAUSE, he has contributed across the professional landscape through his involvement with Internet2, Itana, the Committee for Institutional Collaboration (now called the Big 10 Academic Alliance), the Common Solutions Group, and countless other higher education collaborations. He uses his hard-won experiences to mentor others individually, to support leaders of other EDUCAUSE Constituency Groups, and to advance emerging initiatives such as the work Internet2 is doing in the Internet of Things.

Today, higher education is far better prepared to realize the opportunities afforded by information technology due to Jim’s extraordinary leadership. He has focused on contributing to the greater good of the people and organizations around him, making him a community leader in the truest sense and worthy of the EDUCAUSE Community Leadership Award.

The EDUCAUSE Community Leadership Award recipient receives a $3,000 contribution to the fund of their choice. A contribution in James' name will be made to the University of Utah College of Science General Scholarship Funds.

This EDUCAUSE Award is sponsored by Moran Technology Consulting, Gold Partner.