Athabasca University is pleased to announce that Ms. Jennifer Griffin Schaeffer has accepted the role of Vice-President Information Technology and Chief Information Officer (VPIT and CIO) effective November 6, 2017. Schaeffer brings over 15 years of executive management experience and over 20 years of digital strategy and information and communication technology expertise to this key role at AU.
Reporting to the President, Dr. Neil Fassina, the VPIT/CIO is AU’s champion for strategic delivery, academic service excellence and system performance in information and communication technology. The responsibilities of the role reflect the university’s unique position as an Alberta Comprehensive Academic and Research Institution focused on online and distance delivery of university certificate and degree programs.
“I have been watching Athabasca University for many years,” Schaeffer said, “and I am familiar with its longstanding role as a world leader and innovator in online and distance education. I am excited by the opportunity to contribute to the next stage of the university’s development, particularly as it sets out to renew and revitalize its digital infrastructure and its online presence.”
Schaeffer comes to AU from the University of Alberta, where she was Associate Vice-President University Relations (University Digital Strategy), leading institutional digital strategy and digital governance, including digital marketing and communications solutions, online learning product development and business technology initiatives. While at the U of A, she co-founded the spin-off Onlea Corporation, a non-profit focused on producing engaging interactive courses, mobile apps and educational experiences for academia and industry.
A strategic visionary
“AU was seeking a strategic, pragmatic visionary, with a track record for successfully leading and implementing complex information and communication technology projects and developing and implementing ICT governance structures,” Fassina said, “and I believe that in Ms. Schaeffer we have found just such a leader. She has the qualifications to collaborate both within AU and with external stakeholders, including other post-secondary institutions in Alberta and beyond, to ensure that AU’s information and communication technology capabilities remain at the forefront in the education sector.”
Before joining the post-secondary sector, Schaeffer spent many years in banking and finance, including holding senior management positions with Morgan Stanley in New York and ATB Financial in Edmonton. In each case, her work entailed overseeing development and implementation of digital solutions in areas including knowledge management, real-time data analytics, new products and services, and client and customer service improvement.
Schaeffer holds a Master of Music degree from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, and a Bachelor of Music from Indiana University in Bloomington, and has completed many professional development training programs, particularly in leadership and information and communication technology.
As an advocate for the democratization of education, Schaeffer contributes to many equality, diversity and social justice initiatives and provides informal mentorship to women working in technical fields. A vocalist and writer, she is working on her second book in a speculative fiction trilogy. Married to computer scientist Jonathan Schaeffer, she and her husband live in Edmonton, Alberta and enjoy nature hikes, antiquing and travel adventures with their children.