President Tripathi Shares Thoughts on Technology and Innovation

Published August 27, 2014 This content is archived.

Dr. Satish Tripathi.

UB President Dr. Satish Tripathi

UB was fortunate to have our president Dr. Satish Tripathi chosen as the Keynote Speaker for the 2014 New York State CIO (NYSCIO) Conference in July 2014.


A former computer science researcher and current president of the largest public research university in New York, he did an excellent job challenging the CIO leaders with questions on how Information Technology (IT) can better support the strategy and direction of a major research institution.

President Tripathi asked four key questions. We will certainly address these at UB, and I'm sure other universities will as well.

How can we bring IT closer to the academic mission?

In an age when everything we do depends on IT, IT needs to be aware and an integral part of educational advances. At UB, the CIO position was elevated to the cabinet level to ensure that IT is always part of the administration’s conversations.

What can we learn from IT trends to enhance the academic mission?

President Tripathi emphasized the need for matching instructional interests and needs of faculty to IT capabilities. An example he gave was the human genome project. In the past, it took weeks of effort by supercomputers to map one genome: now an entire sequence can be mapped in less than four hours.

He sees the growth of data as an ongoing trend. There is so much data being generated that IT must use emerging robust and effective analytical tools to keep up. How can we make sure that data is being matched with the right tools to ensure the needs of the institution are met?

How do we strategically resource IT in today’s university?

While there’s never enough money to go around and accomplish everything IT would like to do, strategic investments need to be made. There’s a balance to be maintained between the central and distributed (college/school) level. In order to make room for innovation, efficiency needs to happen at the operational level.

President Tripathi stressed we can’t allow the scale to tip one direction or the other. We must have stability and reliability, but as a research institution, resources must also be allocated for innovation. That’s what will carry us forward and make us more competitive. 

How does IT keep up with growth?

Customers are demanding IT address needs quickly, but be smart about it. One example is creating a digital preservation network, a concept for preserving unique data for hundreds of years, such as data that could help solve a health problem. There also needs to be greater emphasis on keeping information safe. Security practices must be balanced with technology’s rapid execution.

President Tripathi thinks large research universities must actively share IT knowledge with other academic institutions. We should pursue collaboration on a more regional and national level, working to help each other be more efficient and free up resources for innovation.

UB Information Technology (UBIT) takes President Tripathi’s points very seriously and appreciates he took the time to share his thoughts. I think we can all benefit from a president that shares his or her perspectives on IT. I look forward to working with my IT leadership team to address these topics, which I consider centering points, and keep them in mind when making future decisions.

A question for you

UB’s president envisions IT better serving the Institution’s academic operations so greater innovation can occur. As a UB student, faculty or staff member, how would you like to see UB Information Technology be innovative? How can IT better support your interests and pursuits? What are some other channels we can use to listen for feedback on this subject?

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