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New and Changing: Updates from AIT

Posted April 18, 2022 by Academic and Institutional Technology
Tags: Department News

Meet Dr. Alan Wolff, CIO

Our new Chief Information Officer (CIO), Dr. Alan Wolff, started working at Wheaton College on January 18th.  He comes to us from Northwestern University.

Why were you interested in working at Wheaton College?

I have been working in information technology (IT) nearly my whole career both as a practitioner and an educator. At the same time, I have been involved with student ministry. Working as CIO at Wheaton College perfectly channels these two passions into one. I love Wheaton College’s mission of serving Christ and His kingdom through a high-quality faith-based liberal arts education and am eager to utilize the skills God has given me and that I have acquired throughout my career to serve the students and the whole community at Wheaton College.

What are you most excited about as you look ahead at this year in your new role?

Although I come into this job with many years of related experience, I am most excited about the opportunity to continue to grow in my career and as a person. Wheaton College is a unique place. As I meet the people and learn the culture, I can most effectively fulfill my CIO role, strategically applying technological solutions where needed. There is so much to learn on a personal level as well: when the time is right, I’d like to take some classes and perhaps even pursue another degree, God willing. 

What’s your favorite Bon Appetit meal/dessert so far?

They all have been great! The meals have been consistently delicious. And there has been such a variety that I don’t think I have had the same thing multiple times. I have become a lunchtime regular. Soups, salads, Pan Asian, Sabor, Classics, Cucina and the rest- C'est délicieux!

What can you tell us about your family?

I and my wife Vivian have been married for 33 years. We have been blessed with four wonderful children: Sarah, Esther, Grace, and David.

What are some challenges you see at Wheaton College?

The biggest challenge for me is AIT providing excellent service within resource constraints. The other constant tension in IT is maintaining a top-notch cybersecurity program while at the same time offering systems that are accessible and convenient. College-wide, two major challenges are enrollment and faithfulness to the Christian calling. I am eager to work with our admissions and academic units to continue to attract students and deliver the best Christian education. I am also looking forward to partnering with my brothers and sisters across the college to make Christ’s grace known in an even greater way in our community and beyond.

What role do you see technology playing in higher education today?

Technology is not always constructive, but it can help immensely in many areas. The best way for faculty to engage with students is often on a person-to-person basis but technology can be used to provide students with easier access to information and software tools and can bring people together virtually when needed (as we experienced during the pandemic). Technology can also make the processes that support students, faculty, and staff more efficient—something we expect with the migration of our antiquated administrative systems to more robust cloud-based software. It also gives us more and better data to improve our decision making. Because of the ubiquity of technology in the workplace, exposing students to different technologies while they are in college prepares them better for life after graduation.

What’s something unusual you’ve noticed about Wheaton that those of us who have been here for a while don’t think is odd?

Two items come to mind. First, I have been impressed that most faculty and staff at Wheaton College regard their job as part of their calling. Because of this, they are loyal and faithful to carry out their duties even when it gets difficult. Although we may have our share of issues, it is refreshing to see the cheerful devotion of so many people. Second, this is a very tight-knit community with deep connections. One example is the group of current staff (at least 5 of them) who graduated from Wheaton in 1984 and get together in the dining hall every month for lunch. Also, many staff have spouses also working at Wheaton College and have children who are either currently students or Wheaton alums. This is a wonderful aspect of my employment here—my wife is now a Wheaton College employee too and we often eat lunch together in the dining hall.

We are so grateful to have Alan here in this important role at Wheaton College.  Welcome, Alan!  May the LORD bless you and your work here.

If you have any questions, please contact us at ait.service.desk@wheaton.edu or call 630.752.4357 (HELP).