CULLOWHEE – Thomas L. Franke, chief information officer at Western Carolina University since December 2001, is leaving that position immediately to begin a special assignment in the University of North Carolina system’s division of information resources.
The first member of Western’s administration to hold the title of CIO, Franke is now the first “senior research fellow” appointed to work in the area of information technology for the UNC Office of the President, said Robyn Render, UNC vice president for information resources.
Franke will be working on research projects in the areas of identity management, shared and hosted information technology infrastructures for electronic learning, and Internet 2 resources for all levels of education, from kindergarten through graduate school.
“This is a great opportunity for Tom, as he will be working with one of the most forward-thinking CIO groups in the country. I understand the attraction of the assignment and know that he will profit by the experience and add value to the UNC system,” said Western Provost Kyle Carter in announcing Franke’s appointment Thursday, March 17.
“Tom arrived on campus during a time of unprecedented growth,” Chancellor John W. Bardo said. “He is responsible for moving Western from a ‘computer center’ campus to one with an information technology division. We are now well poised for the future.”
Western’s head librarian Wilson “Bil” Stahl, former director of information technology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte , will serve as interim CIO. Stahl was a member of the administration at UNC-Charlotte for 17 years prior to coming to Western in August 2000. He served as acting associate vice chancellor for library and information services and director of information technology planning at the Charlotte campus.
Stahl also held a special assignment of developing an information technology plan for UNC-Charlotte, served as a member of a UNC system committee responsible for examining Web-based services for students, and chaired a state advisory committee that set technical standards and directions for electronic bibliographic and reference resources.
“We are fortunate to have Bil Stahl to take over the leadership of information technology as Tom Franke leaves for Chapel Hill,” Carter said. “He made a career change to Western because of quality-of-life issues. I know being CIO was not in his plan, but Bil is a team player who wants the best for the university. He has extensive IT knowledge and experience, great interpersonal skills and is a great strategic planner. I couldn’t have found a better person to lead IT during this interim period.”
Stahl will remain university librarian throughout the transition, and will rely on the library’s executive leadership team to assist him in the day-to-day management of the library, Carter said.
Western will conduct a national search for a new CIO, but will delay the beginning of the search process until the completion of several high-priority information technology projects currently under way, including network stabilization, a campuswide backup system and a wireless network.
Franke said he is “honored and excited” at the appointment. “My assigned projects will benefit the entire UNC system by helping to advance technologies that allow the campuses to share resources and extend educational services throughout the state,” he said. “In addition to reviewing the professional literature, I will draw on the extensive expertise of my UNC colleagues. I am grateful to the UNC Office of the President and to Western Carolina University for supporting this fellowship.”