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Corn selected as deputy CIO, will focus on privacy

Contributing Writer

Published: Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 02:10

Michael Corn has been selected to be Brandeis’ new chief information security and privacy officer and deputy chief information officer, according to a Sept. 26 email to the Brandeis community from Vice Provost, Chief Information Officer and University Librarian John Unsworth.

In an interview with the Justice, Corn said that he will begin his position at Brandeis on Nov. 11. In the month before he starts working at Brandeis, Corn said he will continue his job at the University of Illinois as chief information security officer for the three-campus system and chief information security and privacy officer for the Champaign-Urbana campus.

Corn’s job responsibilities at Brandeis will include overseeing information security staff and supervising two of the divisions in Library and Technology Services, network and systems, and administrative and library information systems, according to Unsworth in an email to the Justice. Corn will also be responsible for replacing former information security staff member George Moore, who now is only an occasional consultant, wrote Unsworth.

Unsworth worked with Corn for a short period at the University of Illinois, Corn’s current employer, though Corn did not report to him, stated Unsworth in his email to The Justice. Their positions overlapped on a project to establish information technology governance for the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, explained Unsworth. Due to this connection, wrote Unsworth, “I recused myself from the early stages of the hiring process and didn’t take part until the search committee … had selected a short list of three finalists.” Though Unsworth made the final hiring decision, “The search committee and others who participated in the campus visits of the short-list candidates were unanimous in recommending [Corn] as the first choice,” wrote Unsworth.

At Brandeis, Corn said that he plans to help manage the privacy and security of the University’s network. Corn explained that university networks are designed to be very open, embracing “a huge variety of communication pathways” within the University community and connecting it to the outside world. “Our institutions are predicated on the idea of the free exchange of information,” he said, and they have “more in common with small cities than … with companies.”

Corn described such open networks as not occasionally but continually under attack. At the University of Illinois, Corn said there are often millions of attacks in one day.

“Technology has far eclipsed the legal framework protecting confidential information,” Corn said. “There is no activity a university engages in that isn’t mediated by technology.”

The University’s role in response to attacks on the network, explained Corn, is not just to protect, but also “to demonstrate … respect for the community by protecting confidential information.” Students and professors share a lot of confidential information via the network, he explained, so there is a “covenant with students and staff to protect that information.”

As deputy chief information officer, Corn will also have a leadership role in the University’s new IT governance process, according to Unsworth in his community-wide email.

The website for the Brandeis Library and Technology Service defines IT governance as “a system for having campus-wide conversations about [Brandeis’] collective priorities and investments in IT infrastructure, services, and policy,” so as to determine “how best to use technology in support of academic and administrative goals of our university.”

Corn added that there “needs to be a close relationship between governance groups and LTS.”

Corn said he applied to the position at Brandeis after searching for jobs on the east coast for quite some time, particularly at small schools. The position at Brandeis was “exactly the type of position I was looking for,” he said.

He stated an appreciation of the “premium” Brandeis “puts on the larger mission for education.” The strategic plan, he noted as an example, “hits all the right notes” and aims to accomplish a “larger mission in the world.”

He added that he was likely attracted to the school for much the same reason as Brandeis students.

“I am really looking forward to working at an institution that was founded with a sincere focus on the student as a member of a global society,” Corn stated. 

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