2010 Award Recipient

Ira H. Fuchs
For advancing collaborative open-source software that is both groundbreaking and sustainable and for providing visionary and “game changing” leadership in higher education information technology

Former Vice President and Program Officer for Research in Information Technology
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation


A futuristic leader whose foresight has initiated a new era of collaboration and cooperation among information technologists across all segments of higher education, Ira Fuchs has been instrumental in the success of numerous higher education information technology innovations and provided “game changing” leadership for more than 35 years. This is the second time that Fuchs has received the EDUCAUSE Leadership Award: in 2000, EDUCAUSE honored him for “bringing extraordinary creativity, intelligence, and technological expertise to the challenges of providing electronic access to people and information in support of teaching, learning, and research.”

As vice president for research in information technology with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Fuchs directed the foundation’s grant-making in support of innovative applications of technology in higher education, museums, libraries, and the performing arts. Drawing upon his exceptional ability to identify trends and assess technological potential, Fuchs has helped the higher education community to pool ideas, talents, and resources to create collaborative open-source software that is both groundbreaking and sustainable. Some of the highly successful collaborative software projects supported by the Foundation and incubated under Fuchs’s leadership are Kuali, Sakai, uPortal, and Zotero. These projects and many others now reach tens of millions of users worldwide and have saved institutions many millions of dollars.

Fuchs was also instrumental in creating the first prototype for JSTOR, a nonprofit service founded in 1995 to build trusted digital archives for scholarship, and the Mellon Awards for Technology Collaboration (MATC). Before joining Mellon, Fuchs co-founded the BITNET network, an important precursor to the global internet, and co-invented LISTSERV, the first electronic mailing list application. He served as vice president for computing and information technology at Princeton University, vice chancellor for university systems at the City University of New York (CUNY), founder and president of the Corporation for Research and Educational Networking (CREN), and co-founder and president of BITNET. During his term at Princeton, Fuchs’s division created the campus computing network and enhanced the university’s management systems by employing state-of-the-art database technology and a more consistent and integrated approach to systems development. Fuchs also oversaw the operation of the BITNET and CSNET academic computer networks while leading CREN.

He was one of the founding board members of the Internet Society and the Usenix Association and served as a trustee of EDUCOM, NYSERNET, Open Source Applications Foundation (OSAF), JSTOR, Sarah Lawrence College, and Mills College. He has been a consultant to both private and public organizations and participated on higher education advisory boards for the National Science Foundation, Global Education and Learning Community (GELC), IBM, Apple, and NeXt. He currently serves on the boards of the Princeton Public Library, Ithaka Harbors, and the Philadelphia Contributionship.

Fuchs has given presentations nationally and regionally about networking and information technology in countries including England, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Switzerland and Taiwan. He also served as editor for the EDUCAUSE Review New Horizons column and has contributed articles to the IEEE Communications Magazine (“Research Computer Networks and Their Interconnection”), Science (“Computer Networking for Scientists”), and Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society (“Prospects and Possibilities of the Digital Age” and “The Promise and Challenge of New Technologies in Higher Education”).

Fuchs graduated from Columbia University with a bachelor’s degree in applied physics and a master’s degree in computer science.

This award is sponsored by Ellucian, An EDUCAUSE Platinum Partner.