Hillsdale College’s new executive director of Information Technology Services said he is looking to further the college’s mission and values through technology after he started work in July.
Jason Sherrill takes over after the former director, David Zenz, retired in the spring. He said his goals for Hillsdale’s ITS department include reaching more constituents for the college’s online classes and finding new ways to employ classroom technology. As a security expert, Sherrill said he also hopes to ensure the college’s data is safe but also not a roadblock for users.
“Not only do we have the opportunity to accomplish what I believe is a very significant mission, but technology gets to play a pretty significant role in that,” Sherrill said.
Prior to Sherrill’s position at Hillsdale, he founded a Detroit-area software development company, which specialized in high-security software development. He also helped develop a content management system that allowed companies’ marketing teams to build the tools they needed for e-commerce while still keeping the computer code under the control of the technology department.
Chief Administrative Officer Rich Péwé said Sherrill’s experience in these areas made him an appealing candidate for the position of ITS director.
“He dealt with just about every IT issue imaginable for his clients,” Péwé said in an email. “This, above all, made him a most attractive candidate.”
Sherrill said the college’s mission, as well as the potential for technology to help extend the college’s outreach, sparked his interest.
“Working with students that are going out and starting in life with similar values to my own is very satisfying,” Sherrill said. “That piece of it was intriguing to me. I enjoyed so many of the people that I worked with in the past 20 years, but there’s something at a deeper level that feels very different working in an institution with the goals and mission of Hillsdale.”
Although Sherrill said he was first hesitant to enter into academia, a field with which he had little experience, he said he’s looking forward to applying his technological and business expertise in new ways.
“As an entrepreneur and business owner, he’s attuned to the need for innovation,” Provost David Whalen said. “We expect great things, but he’s not here to create earthquakes. His fresh perspective is valuable, especially in things like the website. These kinds of things develop organically, and we’re very excited to have him on board.”
Sherrill said he looks forward to spreading the college’s mission through his work in the ITS department, where he will be able to apply his expertise in a new environment.
“It’s an opportunity to try something different that I think will be very, very rewarding,” he said.