2015 Leadership Award Recipient

Mark Askren HeadshotJames Hilton

Dean of Libraries and Vice Provost for Digital Education and Innovation
University of Michigan–Ann Arbor

For visionary leadership in large-scale digital preservation initiatives; for being a leading voice in the national dialogue regarding the intersection of technology, scholarly information, and research; for bringing a persuasive and unwavering spirit of collaboration and innovation to the challenges facing higher education

The 2015 EDUCAUSE Leadership Award is given to James Hilton, university librarian and dean of libraries and vice provost for digital education innovation at the University of Michigan, to recognize his many contributions to and leadership in the establishment of large-scale initiatives that have transformed the technological landscape of higher education.

James’s experience in higher education spans over three decades and includes both teaching and administrative posts at the University of Michigan (1985–2006) and the University of Virginia (2006–2013). He returned to the University of Michigan in 2013, where he leads one of the world’s largest and most innovative library systems and heads the development of campus-wide strategies, policies, and programs around educational technology. His responsibilities include administration of HathiTrust, a digital repository with content from over 60 libraries. He is also the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and has faculty appointments in the University School of Information and the Research Center for Group Dynamics.

James has played a major role in several multi-institutional initiatives in the application of technology to benefit higher education. He was a co-founder of the Sakai Project, a collaborative effort to create open software that advances teaching, learning, and research, and he was an early supporter of cooperative efforts such as Internet2 NET+ and DuraSpace. He has championed the creation and development of the Academic Preservation Trust and the Digital Preservation Network, two large-scale efforts bringing together technologists, librarians, preservationists, and intellectual property advocates to address issues relating to digital preservation and storage of the scholarly record. In 2014, James was instrumental in launching the Unizin consortium, a partnership of universities formed to exert greater control and influence over the infrastructure, content, and data that make up the ever-expanding digital learning landscape.

As a leading voice in technology issues relating to higher education, James has served as an advisor or board member to several organizations, including the Mellon Foundation, Internet2, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), the Research University Computing Conclave (RUCC) CIOs, DuraSpace, HaithiTrust, and the Digital Preservation Network, among others. In addition to his service on the EDUCAUSE Board of Directors from 2007 to 2011, James has been a frequent contributor to EDUCAUSE Review and at EDUCAUSE conferences and has served both formally and informally on a number of committees and task forces for the association.

James brings a deep understanding of the academy and broad and bold thinking to his work on some of the biggest and most difficult challenges and opportunities facing higher education and information technology. His visionary leadership and distinctive personal style serve as an inspiration for those he has worked with in the academic community.


The EDUCAUSE Leadership Award recipient receives a $3,000 contribution to the fund of their choice. A contribution in James’ name will be made to the Loyd Hilton Endowed Award for Excellence in English at Appalachian State University.

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