As President Frenk has said on numerous occasions, the U is a magnet for top talent, a fact that has been instrumental in our considerable success over the years. One of the risks of that success, of course, is that other organizations want the very best talent they can find, and that talent often is right here at the U.
It is within that context that I’m writing to let you know that Ernie Fernandez, our vice president and chief information officer and leader of UMIT, has accepted a tremendous new opportunity with a leading global technology corporation. That Ernie was recruited to this new position is a testament to the phenomenal work he has done in enhancing our information technology infrastructure and leading our IT organization, particularly over the past two years through a global pandemic, and to his previous success at IBM.
Ernie’s contributions to our community are too numerous to list. I would, however, like to share some of the more notable highlights.
His calm and steady guidance at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic—when connectivity was critical—helped ensure our sustained operations and student progress. Within one week of the coronavirus being named a global pandemic, UMIT prepared the University’s 35,000 students, faculty, and staff for remote instruction and remote work, and ensured the University’s systems had the bandwidth to accommodate the increased load. Over the ensuing months, the team partnered with stakeholders across the University to create custom tools to assist with COVID-19 response, including the development of a symptom checker and other health and wellness utilities.
Shortly after his arrival at the U in 2018, Ernie launched the development of an IT strategic plan, which incorporated the feedback of hundreds of University colleagues, enhanced the University’s use of data to enable better decision making, and significantly improved the security and resiliency of our networks. He created a new “innovate team” to support initiatives in health, teaching, and research, and he led the University of Miami’s achievement as the first college campus in the United States to adopt AT&T’s 5G+ and Multi-access Edge Compute technology, which has unlocked new scholarly pursuits.
Ernie’s own can-do spirit and selfless commitment to service are reflected across UMIT. University stakeholder satisfaction with UMIT now consistently rates better than 95 percent. And last year, UMIT received a CIO100 award for innovation and value, and was a South Florida Business Journal Technology Award honoree.
We have been so fortunate to have someone with Ernie’s talent and background leading our IT organization for the past three years. I know I speak for all Hurricanes when I say we will miss him and we wish him, Carolina, and their beautiful family many blessings for the future.
Ernie’s last day on campus will be Oct. 22. A national search for his replacement will begin immediately. In the interim, Brad Rohrer, our deputy CIO and associate vice president for infrastructure and operations, will lead our IT organization. Brad has been with the University for more than 20 years and has held several leadership positions, including interim CIO several years ago. He is a proud ’Cane, having earned his master’s degree in management of technology from the U; he knows our University and community well; and he is committed to continuing the innovative and customer-focused work that is a hallmark of UMIT.
Please join me in thanking Ernie for all he has contributed to our success and in recognizing Brad for his service and willingness to step in and lead UMIT during this transition period.