Soil science professor Phillip Barak has been appointed to be the college’s first Director of Computing and Information Technology. In this role, he is responsible for providing overall leadership, vision and strategic management for information technology services at CALS. The position, a 50 percent appointment that reports to Dean Kate VandenBosch and serves as a member of the CALS administrative team, was created to help meet the ever-increasing need for improved computing and IT services across the college.
Previously, Barak served in this position in an interim role and, over the past two years, he has already led his team to make a number of impressive advances in CALS computing and IT. Accomplishments include making major security improvements for Ag Hall and CALS departments; completing major initiatives toward building a CALS IT infrastructure aligned with the college’s missions; offering scientific software to CALS faculty, staff and students to further research needs; improving the communication of IT needs and resources between the college and its departments and between CALS and campus.
Now as CALS’ permanent IT director, Barak will continue to tackle long-range information technology issues such as data security, server capacity, data storage and backup, web development and the development of tools that will help the administration better serve the college.
Barak has served as chair of the campus-wide Information Technology Committee, a shared-governance (faculty, staff and students) committee, since September 2006. He is recognized as an early-adopter in employing information technology in research and teaching related to his area of expertise, the soil chemistry of plant nutrients and their recovery and recycling, plant nutrition, and scientific visualization. A website that he created, The Virtual Museum of Minerals and Molecules, was selected as a winner of ScientificAmerican.com’s 2003 Sci/Tech Web Awards, given to web sites identified as “the most innovative, creative and valuable as science and technology resources for our readers.” In 1999 that website and his course Web site, Plant Nutrient Management, earned him an EDUCAUSE Medal award, given to honor individuals who have demonstrated that information technology can help improve undergraduate education.