Mark Daley has been appointed Western’s first-ever chief digital officer, a new role designed to lead the university’s digital transformation and fulfill its commitment towards technology innovation in the strategic plan, Towards Western at 150.
“Mark is uniquely qualified for this exciting new role and brings with him a wealth of diverse academic and senior administrative experience,” said Florentine Strzelczyk, provost and vice-president (academic). “He is perfectly suited to lead the creation of our new unit – Digital Western – which will support the use of more sophisticated data on campus, empower decision-makers with the best quantitative evidence available, and ensure we have the tools and technology to compete as a world-class research-intensive university.”
Western’s special advisor to the president on data strategy since September 2019, Daley is also currently vice-president of research for the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and chair of the board of directors at Compute Ontario. In 2020, he co-founded CanCOVID, an expert network of Canadian COVID-19 researchers, clinical collaborators, and health-care professionals.
“I’m extremely excited,” Daley said, adding it’s a “dream job” for him. “This is a perfect moment in time, for Western and for the higher education sector in general, to really accelerate our digital transformation. And I just feel so lucky to be able to play a small part in that.”
Reporting to Strzelczyk, Daley will lead the creation of the university’s new Digital Western unit, with the goals of:
– Envisioning and designing leading-edge digital tools, platforms and infrastructure that help advance the aspirations of the new strategic plan.
– Providing data analytics expertise and evidence-based decision-making support to academic and administrative leaders across campus, in collaboration with the chief data officer.
– Advising on the development and implementation of data science training and research programs across academic disciplines.
– Providing core IT/technology platform operations and support across campus, with Western Technology Services (WTS) becoming an integral part of the new Digital Western portfolio.
“The WTS team provides exceptional technology solutions, resources, support and services to the entire campus community,” said Strzelczyk. “Their work is critical to the success of Digital Western, and to moving the university’s strategic priorities forward.”
A multidisciplinary scholar, Daley has held cross-appointments in several Western departments including computer science, mathematics, statistics and actuarial sciences, biology, electrical and computer engineering, and epidemiology and biostatistics, as well as the Brain & Mind Institute, the Rotman Institute of Philosophy and Lawson Health Research Institute. From 2015 to 2019, he served as Western’s associate vice-president (research).
A three-time Western graduate with a BSc’99 (computer science and mathematics), MSc’12 (neuroscience), and PhD’03 (computer science), Daley assumes the role of chief digital officer Sept. 1.
The overall vision for Digital Western notwithstanding, Daley’s top priority is simple yet impactful: listening to students, faculty and staff.
“There’s already a transition towards thinking about how we serve our community. What are their needs? How can we build tools that help them get where they want to be? Technology is just a tool and an enabler, and the focus is on interacting with our stakeholders and partners and getting them what they need,” Daley said.
“It’s easy to run off and start building things you think people want. But it’s better to build things people have said they actually need. And so that act of consultation and prioritization is absolutely job number one.”