I write to share the news that Jim Davis, vice provost for information technology and head of UCLA’s Office of Advanced Research Computing (OARC), will step down from his role on June 30.
In light of the fact that our academic research mission depends so profoundly on data, OARC will then join the Office of Research and Creative Activities (ORCA) under Vice Chancellor Roger Wakimoto. This organizational change will strengthen support for UCLA’s digital research and scholarship, making it possible for OARC to better evolve and align with DataX and other data-centered initiatives. One OARC function, the Office of the Chief Privacy Officer, will join UCLA Ethics, Compliance and Audit, led by Associate Vice Chancellor Mark Krause in the Chancellor’s Office.
Under Vice Provost Davis’ leadership, OARC — formerly the Office of Information Technology — has had a long history of helping UCLA extend its impact in the digital age. Examples of OARC’s work include Research Technology Group collaborations with academic researchers, hosting more than 100 training courses and workshops each year, creating UCLA Mobile, providing access to high-performance research computing, stewarding a major data and statistics support website and overseeing the Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CESMII) sponsored by the Department of Energy. OARC also helped develop the first campus learning management system and currently oversees a UCLA Young Tech Professional bootcamp involving Southern California cities and companies, a citywide Women in Technology program and digital access support for students with disabilities.
Davis has been with UCLA for 23 years, serving for 13 of those as vice provost and 10 years prior to that as associate vice chancellor and chief information officer. A hallmark of his tenure has been working with campus partners to develop structures and processes that aid UCLA in undergoing IT transformations. Vice Provost Davis oversaw the formation of UCLA’s first IT governance structure alongside the Academic Senate and campus administration; the UCLA Board on Privacy and Data Protection; the Office of the Chief Privacy Officer; the Institute for Digital Research and Education (IDRE), led jointly with the Office of Research and Creative Activities; and BruinTech, an important channel for IT staff to network and exchange information. He was heavily involved in UCLA’s Instructional Enhancement Initiative and our Online Teaching and Learning Initiative. At the UC level, he contributed to the creation of the UC Innovative Learning and Technology Initiative and worked with the UC Office of the President and other UC campuses to form the UC Information Technology Leadership Committee of CIOs, for which he served as the inaugural chair.
Vice Provost Davis has also served on the board of the Corporation of Education and Network Initiatives in California, the coalition that provides networking services to the state’s educational and research institutions. As chair, he focused on expanding connectivity to all California counties to better support K-12 schools. Vice Provost Davis has testified to legislators in Washington, D.C. about illegal downloading of copyrighted media on college campuses, sharing a groundbreaking approach developed alongside the entertainment industry to protect the rights and privacy of students. Additionally, he helped our campus navigate the first major breach of personal information at a college or university, focusing his efforts and subsequent advocacy on systems to notify affected individuals. He was on the team that produced the UC Statement of Privacy Values and Principles and successfully addressed a lawsuit to protect fair use of copyrighted media for educational use, not only at UCLA but throughout higher education.
As online education and data-centered, partnership-based research and scholarship have grown, Vice Provost Davis and OARC have expanded their work. This has included engaging with the federal government on large-scale U.S. priorities for environmental sustainability and U.S. manufacturing that depend on data partnerships, AI, national cyber infrastructure and training in digital capabilities. He co-founded the U.S. Smart Manufacturing initiative and led UCLA’s awarding of CESMII. With CESMII as one of our university’s largest-scale initiatives, OARC has developed ample experience with operations and governance of data-centered R&D partnerships across sectors.
Looking to the future, OARC’s shift into the Office of Research and Creative Activities is a natural progression that will enable the office to increase its value to UCLA, developing innovative and sustainable data and technology solutions for research in partnership with faculty and campus units. I look forward to seeing all that the dedicated and talented individuals within the OARC team will continue to contribute to our academic mission under this new structure.
Please join me in congratulating Jim on his more than two decades of distinguished leadership at UCLA. In stepping down as vice provost, he will take on the role of faculty research advisor within ORCA; will continue as Principal Investigator of CESMII; and will have greater involvement in federal initiatives on AI, the national Manufacturing USA institutes and environmental sustainability projects.
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost