New appointee comes from Microsoft Corp., academia

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Daniel Reed, an executive at Microsoft Corp. and a longtime higher-education academic, has been named the next vice president for research and economic development at the University of Iowa, the university announced Tuesday.

portrait of dan reed
Daniel Reed

Reed, 55, will start on Oct. 15.

“We couldn’t be happier to have Dan join our leadership team at the University of Iowa,” says President Sally Mason. “He brings a suite of attributes fundamental to the position—a background in business and economic development, a career in research and scholarship, and a trained eye toward innovation as it pertains to higher education and its public relevance and impact. I am confident that Dan will help propel the UI’s research agenda and further our economic imprint for Iowans.”

“I am delighted to be joining the University of Iowa, one of this country’s great public research universities,” Reed says. “These are exciting and challenging times, and Iowa is strategically placed to help shape the future of academic research, enhance technology transfer and economic development, and address important issues for Iowa, the U.S. and the world. Working together, even greater things are ahead.”

Reed joined Microsoft in 2007 and most recently served as a corporate vice president, reporting to the company’s chief research and strategy officer. As corporate vice president for extreme computing, Reed built and led research and prototyping on cloud and parallel computing. He later led Microsoft’s global technology policy group, helping foster dialog on the influence of technology on societal issues and government policy.

In an interview on C-SPAN in 2010, he described his job as “to envision what the future of technology will be … (and) to try to invent the future.”

On taking the position at the UI, Reed returns to his home in academia and the familiar territory of the Big Ten. After earning his doctorate at Purdue University in 1983, Reed was an assistant professor in computer science at the University of North Carolina for one year before accepting a position at the University of Illinois. There, he rose to full professor, and served as the highly ranked department’s head from 1996 to 2001, managing 40 faculty, 100 staff members, and some 2,000 students.

During that time, he oversaw a dramatic expansion of the computer science department and design of a new IT quadrangle on campus. He also headed the National Center for Supercomputing Application (NCSA), a federally funded supercomputing facility that supported computational science and engineering research across the country as well as industrial partnerships with major companies.

In 2004, Reed was named the director of the Renaissance Computing Institute, a major collaborative venture of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University, North Carolina State University, and the state of North Carolina, supported by $12 million in annual state funding.

He visited the UI campus in May as one of three finalists for the vice president for research position. In a talk outlining his vision, Reed said the mission of higher education is changing, given the flattened economic landscape spawned by globalization. He noted that there are new and heightened desires for research innovations to drive economic development and for lifelong education and skills to help workers remain competitive. “Expectations have never been higher,” he said, “and it is crucial that universities respond accordingly.”

Reed notes that the quickening pace of technology and how data are used are changing the compact between research universities and society. We should embrace it, he argues. “Change brings opportunity for innovation,” Reed says.

He says that the arts and humanities are integral to a well rounded, fulfilling education. He cited his past partnerships with artists and historians and credited one of his former colleagues in the arts for the concept of multidisciplinary, “Renaissance” teams to address complex problems. “I am an academic truly at heart,” he says.

Reed's salary will be $345,000 annually, pending approval from the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, which will discuss the appointment Wednesday, Sept. 12. He succeeds Jordan Cohen, who has served as the vice president for research and economic development since 2010.

“The vice president for research and economic development is a complex position focused on facilitating faculty research success across all areas of scholarship and research at the University of Iowa," Cohen says. "Paramount among these is identifying funding opportunities, stimulating cross-disciplinary collaboration and developing a strong infrastructure to support research as well as technology transfer so that promising research findings can be commercialized where appropriate for the benefit of society and to support economic development in Iowa and at the university. I am confident that we have selected the right individual in Dan to lead the UI in these dynamic and highly challenging times.”

In a post on his blog, Reed said he was ready to get started. “For me, all of this is very exciting. It is a new adventure and an opportunity to help define higher education in the 21st century.”