2016 Leadership Award Recipients

William Graves

William Graves

Posthumous Recognition
Formerly VP at Ellucian and Founder and Director, Institute of Academic Technology

For lifetime achievement in the field of higher education; for pioneering technology-enabled strategies to improve institutional and academic performance; for playing a key role in launching and developing many of the foundational organizations that continue to benefit the higher education community

This year EDUCAUSE posthumously grants its 2016 Leadership Award to William (Bill) Graves, who has left an indelible mark on the higher education community in his career of more than 40 years. Bill passed away in April 2016 after a courageous battle with brain cancer.

For 30 years, Bill served the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) as a math professor, dean for general education, interim vice chancellor for academic affairs, and senior IT officer under a variety of titles. While at UNC, he founded and directed the Institute for Academic Technology (IAT), a partnership between the university and IBM that led to the development of groundbreaking software for supporting courses using the Internet. Always ahead of his time in understanding the potential of technology to transform education, Bill and his team at UNC were at the forefront in leading the higher education sector into the ubiquitous adoption of learning management system software.

First at UNC and later at Eduprise, Collegis, SunGard Higher Education, and Ellucian (a series of evolving corporate entities linked through acquisition), Bill successfully bridged his faculty/administrative role with executive positions in major technology corporations and helped pioneer technology-enabled strategies for measurably improving on and accounting for institutional and academic performance in postsecondary education. At the time of his retirement in 2014, Bill was senior vice president for academic strategy at Ellucian.

Bill was a prolific writer and speaker on the connections between learners and technology; the potential of technology to help meet institutional and societal goals; the importance of evolving models and partnerships among educational stakeholders; and the issues of access, retention, affordability, and educational justice. He explored these themes in over 80 published articles and books and on his blog, The Learning Cloud.

Throughout his career, Bill was a driving force in creating several organizations that continue to impact the higher education community. During his years at UNC, Bill served on the boards for CAUSE, EDUCAUSE, and the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI). He played a key leadership role in launching Internet2, the IMS Global Learning Consortium, and Educom’s National Learning Infrastructure Initiative (later to become the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative). Additionally, Bill served on governing or advisory organizations for Antioch University, UNC-Chapel Hill School of Information and Library Science, the National Center for Academic Transformation, the U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, and the International Association of University Presidents.

Bill’s foresight and leadership shaped the world of higher education, and the products and services he invented or helped develop have had a lasting impact on teaching, learning, and communicating. His pioneering spirit and dedication to the greater good make him worthy of being recognized as one of the outstanding leaders in higher education IT. 

The EDUCAUSE Leadership Award recipient receives a $3,000 contribution to the fund of their choice. A contribution in Bill’s name will be made to the UNC School of Information and Library Science, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

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

Donald Spicer

Donald Z. Spicer

Associate Vice Chancellor and CIO, University System of Maryland

For extraordinary leadership, effectiveness, and statesmanship; for visionary promotion of IT at institutional, system-wide, and organizational levels; for fostering collaborative efforts to develop a thriving environment of IT services and support; for research that advanced the thinking around strategic issues in higher education 

The 2016 EDUCAUSE Leadership Award is given to Donald (Don) Spicer, associate vice chancellor for information technology and CIO for the University System of Maryland, to recognize his dedication throughout his career to shaping and developing model initiatives that work across institutional categories and boundaries in support of the educational mission.

As associate vice chancellor for information technology and CIO for the University System of Maryland (USM), Don has been responsible for developing a shared IT vision for a system that is a representative cross-section of American public higher education. The system includes 12 institutions with diverse missions. In addition to his IT role, he has led a number of system initiatives promoting academic transformation, advancing understanding the impact of disruption, and improving effectiveness and efficiency.

A common thread running throughout Don’s career is his ability to bring people together in a spirit of vision, trust, and collegiality to achieve successful multi-institutional collaborations. During his 18-year career at USM, Don has mobilized efforts for several major initiatives, including the creation of the Maryland Education Enterprise Consortium (MEEC), which establishes contracts for hardware, software, and services for the state’s entire K–20 community—public, private, and federal. He also helped establish the Maryland Research and Education Network (MDREN) and Collaborative Solutions Maryland (CSM), both of which support the collective network-related needs of K–20 education across the state. Don also led the effort for system-wide membership for USM in Internet2. In recent years, he has worked to support the collaborative activities of USMAI (University System of Maryland and Affiliated Institutions), the state’s four-year library consortium of academic institutions.

Don began his career as a faculty member in mathematics. At Vassar College, where he transitioned into an academic administrative position, he worked closely with Educom, jointly receiving a FIPSE (Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education) grant that allowed the college to expand its academic computing technologies and become a model for the use of technology at liberal arts colleges. Later at the University of Notre Dame, he led efforts to support the innovative use of technology in teaching and learning and was instrumental in broadly redefining the role of technology at the university.

Don has always been active professionally in major national technology initiatives. While at Vanderbilt University, he was part of the CIO group that formed Internet2 and also lent support to the creation of Southern Crossroads (SoX), the regional Internet2 GigaPOP. Also at Vanderbilt, he worked closely with the Sloan Foundation to initiate online learning and helped establish the asynchronous learning network (ALN). In 1996, he joined the editorial board of the Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks and served as one of the journal’s associate editors from 2011 to 2015. He currently is the co-editor of the new Journal of Innovations in Online Education.

Don’s many contributions to EDUCAUSE and its predecessors date back to 1991. In addition to serving as a regional conference chair, committee member, speaker, moderator, and mentor on countless occasions, he was an ECAR (EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research) Fellow from 2003 to 2013, during which time he authored publications and bulletins that advanced research on issues of significance to IT leaders and the higher education community.

Throughout his career, Don has distinguished himself as a leader with a deep understanding of the foundational importance of technology to the educational enterprise. He brings to any endeavor his skills in cultivating relationships, cooperation, and a sense of shared purpose in serving the greater good. 

The EDUCAUSE Leadership Award recipient receives a $3,000 contribution to the fund of their choice. A contribution $1,500 in Don’s name will be made to the The College of Wooster Foundation and at the University of Minnesota Foundation.

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