UCSC selects Aisha Jackson as Vice Chancellor for Information Technology

Portrait of Aisha Jackson
Aisha Jackson describes herself as a collaborative leader who empowers staff.

UC Santa Cruz has chosen Aisha Jackson as its next Vice Chancellor for Information Technology. 

Jackson has more than 15 years of professional experience in higher-education information technology. She comes to campus from the University of Colorado Boulder, where she is that university’s first Assistant Vice Provost and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Technology and Student Success. Before that, she held various manager and director positions in CU Boulder’s Office of Information Technology. 

Jackson’s appointment at UCSC, which begins Aug. 1 pending approval of the University of California Office of the President, caps a nationwide recruitment and campuswide stakeholder-engagement process that began in October. University Extension Dean PK Agarwal and Vice Chancellor for University Relations Mark Delos Reyes Davis co-chaired the search advisory committee.

“Aisha Jackson is a collaborative and thoughtful leader, and a strong addition to our leadership team,” Chancellor Cynthia Larive said. “I am grateful for the efforts of the search advisory committee and appreciative of everyone in our campus community who shared their insights during the recruitment and stakeholder-engagement process. We leaned deeply on community feedback throughout this process."

Jackson brings to campus a wealth of experience. She got her professional start in information technology at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus, Trinidad and Tobago. She has spent the past dozen years at CU Boulder. Her current position was created to ensure the continued advancement of campus technology in service to both faculty and students. It is a unique role in that it bridges the interdependent domains of academics and administration. The position includes the operational oversight of numerous product and service units. These include academic technology, the student portal, student-success analytics, web and customer relationship management, and an automated administrative platform used in CU Boulder’s online degrees.

Jackson said she does not have a preconceived vision of where UCSC’s Information Technology needs to go, but sees the division as a key player in helping the university reach its goals of improved student success; expanded research impact; a more inclusive campus climate; and better operational efficiency, effectiveness, resilience and sustainability. 

“We need to be in alignment with the campus vision,” Jackson said. “IT needs to be seen as a strategic partner across campus, and we will work hard to be just that.” 

She described herself as a collaborative leader who empowers staff: “I believe in humble inquiry and inclusive leadership. I’m not the expert in everything. I ask a lot of questions. It’s important to me that we listen to the folks closest to the work. We need to make sure their voices are being heard.”

Jackson said she was drawn to UCSC for a number of reasons — its status as a Research 1 university, its smaller size in relation to the 35,000-student CU Boulder campus, for UCSC’s shared governance model, and because the campus is designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution that pays special attention to the needs of first-generation students.

“As an Afro-Latina — I was born in Panama — I really connect to the value of supporting Latinx students and students from underrepresented groups,” she added. “It’s important to me to work at a place that also shares those values.”

Jackson holds a doctorate in education from the University of Colorado, Denver; a master’s in education from the University of Florida, Gainesville; and a bachelor of arts in elementary education from Flagler College in St. Augustine, Fla. 

Until Jackson begins her appointment, interim Vice Chancellor for Information Technology Byron Walker will continue to serve as the division’s interim leader, a role he has held since August 2021, when former Vice Chancellor for Information Technology Van Williams was appointed the chief information officer and vice president for information technology services for the University of California system.