Michael H. Hites, Ph.D., an executive with 17 years of experience leading large-scale computing operations for university-based research and innovation, has been named SMU’s Chief Information Officer. He will begin his new duties on July 17, 2017.
“We are delighted that Dr. Hites will be joining us as our Chief Information Officer,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “His experience and leadership will be invaluable as we dramatically increase the utilization of advanced computing in our research and institutional programs.”
Currently, Hites is senior associate vice president for administrative IT services and CIO with the University of Illinois System. He also serves as an adjunct associate professor of computer science at the University of Illinois-Chicago. He brings to SMU experience with innovation and research, teaching and learning, enterprise infrastructure, fundraising, governance, strategic planning and budgeting, process improvement, new product development, 24/7 operations, and data warehousing and analytics, among other areas.
As SMU CIO, Hites will report directly to President Turner. He will lead the Office of Information Technology, including the Academic Technology, Infrastructure, Applications Support, Project Management, Customer Service, and Information Security teams.
In addition, Hites will oversee the University’s high-performance computing initiatives, including the ManeFrame II supercomputer: SMU’s fourth-generation upgrade, which boasts a six-fold increase in computing power with a theoretical peak performance of more than 600 teraflops. When installation is competed this summer, ManeFrame II will rank among the top academic supercomputers in the nation.
As the UI System’s senior associate VP for administrative IT services and CIO since 2012, Hites is responsible for a $28 million recurring budget and 220 employees. He also leads an executive team in planning, strategy, analysis, and operations of enterprise IT services for approximately 81,000 students and 25,000 employees across UI’s Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), Chicago (UIC) and Springfield (UIS) campuses.
His accomplishments in this role include the development of faculty-focused IT governance structures that balance membership between academic and administrative leadership, as well as the implementation of an annual enterprise resource planning (ERP) upgrade process that saves the system millions of dollars compared to peer organizations.
He has collaborated on the planning and installation of a new shared research-computing cluster at UIC and helped implement a single-username and -password system in a highly-distributed environment with multiple password directories. In addition, his department created a researcher-focused financial and compliance portal to streamline processes for innovators, as well as developed strategies for administrative IT services that favor saving time for students and faculty and providing faster services and data for stakeholders.
“I am looking forward to helping achieve SMU’s 2016-2025 strategic plan, ‘Launching SMU’s Second Century: Shaping Leaders for a Changing World,’” Hites said. “Being the CIO at SMU gives me the opportunity to work side-by-side with students, faculty and staff to foster research, improve interdisciplinary education, and partner with the city of Dallas.”
Hites began his career at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago in 1996, where he served as assistant to the dean for computing (1996-97), assistant dean for computing and research assistant professor (1997-98), and director, Computing and Network Services (1998-2000). He also served as chief technology officer from 2000-03.
He continued his career at New Mexico State University (NMSU) from 2003-08, starting as vice provost for information and technology services and CIO (2003-06). As vice president for planning and IT and CIO from 2006-08, he worked with deans, directors, students, faculty, executive leadership, and the Board of Regents to plan, implement and measure IT programs and services across NMSU’s five-campus system, as well as assisting other governmental and educational entities in New Mexico.
His 10-year career with the University of Illinois System included service as executive CIO (2011-12) and associate vice president for administrative IT services (2008-12).
Hites received his B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Arizona in 1989. He earned an M.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1992 and his Ph.D. in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology in 1997.
Dr. Hites was selected after a nationwide search coordinated by a campus committee chaired by James E. Quick, associate vice president for research and dean of graduate studies. He replaces Joe Gargiulo, SMU’s first CIO, who will retire this summer.
“A 21st-century university depends on information technology,” Quick said. “Dr. Hites’ background, which includes both outstanding IT and faculty experience, position him to lead the engagement of IT in SMU’s efforts to enhance its academic quality and stature.”