Maryland Higher Education IT Leadership Summit 2024 Banner


This one-day event is designed to convene leaders and innovators from across the state to address the most pressing challenges and opportunities in higher education information technology. As institutions continue to navigate the complexities of digital transformation, cybersecurity, online learning, and data management, this summit offers a place for collaboration, learning, and strategic planning.

The Higher Education IT Leadership Summit is more than just an event; it's a strategic gathering of minds dedicated to shaping the future of technology in academia. The summit looks to help support change, inspire innovation, and equip participants with the knowledge and connections needed to lead their institutions through the IT challenges and opportunities currently in front of them and ahead of them.


  • Foster Collaboration: Create a forum for IT leaders to meet in-person locally and share insights, strategies, and best practices for overcoming common challenges and leveraging opportunities within the higher education sector.
  • Highlight Innovation: Showcase best practices and experiences in using technology to address new approaches to teaching, learning, and administrative operations.
  • Enhance Leadership Skills: Learn from colleagues and peers on how to develop leadership capabilities to advance careers and effectively guide IT departments and institutions.
  • Address Key Challenges: Address topics such as AI, system modernizations, cybersecurity threats, privacy regulations, cloud and infrastructure scalability, and the integration of new technologies, budget challenges, and more.
  • Explore Future Trends and Opportunities: Examine the future landscape of higher education technology, including the challenges ahead, what needs focus and attention, and the potential impact on the IT’s mission and workforce.

Who Should Attend:

  • CIOs, IT directors, technology and system managers, and other IT leaders in higher education. Also, those who are spearheading digital transformation initiatives, managing IT infrastructure, or developing innovative learning technologies. Titles include CIOs and CTOs, Deputy CIO and CTOs, CISOs and deputy CISOs, IT directors, and managers, Future IT leaders, Functional IT leaders and managers.

Why Attend:

  • Local and Sized Right: Free to attend if you work in higher education. The Summit is designed to be small and more collaborative with up to 50 invited attendees. The local venue eliminates long and costly travel outside the state.
  • Expert Panels: Engage with thought leaders and experts in discussions on the latest trends, challenges, and opportunities in higher education IT.
  • Networking Opportunities: Connect with peers from various institutions and industry, share experiences, and build partnerships that extend beyond the summit.

A message from our Keynote Speaker


Michael Leahy

Michael Leahy

Senior Fellow, Government Technology

Michael G. Leahy is an experienced Senior Executive, Attorney and Regulator with extensive public and private sector contributions leading organizations, solving complex problems, and applying process management, technology and common sense successfully.
Most recently, Mr. Leahy served as the Secretary of Information Technology and Chief Information Officer for the State of Maryland. Recognition in that position included receiving a StateScoop Leadership Award, 2020 and a GovTech Doers, Dreamers and Drivers award, 2021.
Mr Leahy is also the immediate past President of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (2021 -2022) where he also served as the Chairman of the Privacy Forum and the Enterprise Architecture Forum before becoming President. He also maintains a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP) credential and serves on the Education Advisory Board of the International Association of Privacy Professionals.
Throughout his career, Mr. Leahy has served at the federal, state and local levels in roles as diverse as City Attorney for Annapolis, Maryland, Policy and Legal Advisor to Governors and Local Government Executives, School Board Member, Maryland Transportation Board Member and Director of the Medical Biotech Institute at the University of Maryland.
Mr Leahy’s professional interests presently center on organizational efficiency and governance, data management and advances in identity and access management controls.

Brian Cohen

Brian Cohen

Vice President, Center for Digital Government

Brian Cohen is the Vice President of the Center for Digital Government and Center Digital Education, a national research and advisory institute on information technology policies and best practices in state and local government and education. Prior to joining the Center, Brian was Vice Chancellor and University CIO for the City University of New York (CUNY).
As the Vice-Chancellor and University CIO at CUNY, Brian directed the Office of Computing and Information Services (CIS), developed, and managed the enterprise IT vision, strategy and day-to-day technology operations of the University. His areas of focus included academic and business systems, cloud strategies, IT policies and procedures, Cybersecurity, project management, IT resiliency and disaster recovery, and network and telecommunications.
Brain also served in leadership roles with the City of New York. Among his many accomplishments, Brian developed the City of New York’s E-Government strategy, implemented the City’s award-winning website, and managed the City’s effort to address the Y2K technology challenge.

Michael Eismeier

Michael Eismeier

Associate Vice Chancellor and Chief Information Officer, University System of Maryland 

Michael Eismeier is a seasoned Chief Information Officer at the University System of Maryland, with extensive experience in higher education administration and IT leadership. Since joining the University System in 2019, he has served in several key roles, including Associate Vice Chancellor and Deputy CIO, where he spearheaded significant digital transformation initiatives.
Previously, Michael directed the Administrative Modernization Program at the University of Maryland, College Park, enhancing efficiencies across finance and human resources systems. His career began in state government, progressing to impactful roles in IT strategy and project management.
Michael holds an MBA and a master’s in Information and Telecommunications Systems from The Johns Hopkins University - Carey Business School, and a BS in Geography and Regional Planning from Salisbury University. His academic background complements his leadership, blending business acumen with technical expertise to advance educational and digital governance.

Michael Kaiser

Michael Kaiser

Chief Information Security Officer, Towson University 

Mike Kaiser is the Chief Information Security Officer for Towson University.
He joined Towson University in March 2018 and is responsible for the University’s Information Security and Privacy program. Mike has over 20 years of Information Technology and Security experience within multiple industries. He holds a Master of Science degree from the University of Maryland Global Campus in Cybersecurity Management and Policy, and he is a Certified Information System Security Professional (CISSP) and a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP).
Prior to joining Towson University, Mike was the Senior IT Security Manager of Strategy and Risk Management at McCormick and Company in Hunt Valley, MD.

David Riggin

David Riggin

Senior Manager, IT Portfolio and Projects, University System of Maryland

Dave Riggin is currently serving as the Senior Manager of IT Portfolio and Projects at the University System of Maryland where he spearheads the development and management of technology portfolios, aligning strategic goals with technology initiatives across all USM institutions. His role emphasizes shared services, licensing opportunities, and vendor management, ensuring fiscal responsibility and strategic alignment.
Dave is also a seasoned IT leader with over three decades of comprehensive experience in applications, architecture, infrastructure, project/program management, sourcing, and strategic IT management. Previously, he worked at the University of Baltimore for 10 years serving as Deputy Chief Information Officer where he led enterprise applications, architecture, infrastructure, project management, security, and service management. Prior to his role as Deputy CIO at UBalt, he directed the Enterprise Applications group, managing a team responsible for supporting all software applications.
Dave's earlier experience includes a significant tenure at Allegis Group, with roles that covered areas such as application development, data warehousing, enterprise architecture, identity management, and project/program management. He led a $30m+ shared services and sourcing program in his last 3 years at Allegis to support the globalization of the company. Prior to Allegis, he worked as a healthcare technology consultant and in various leadership roles in the technology organization of UPS.
Dave received his Bachelor of Science in Geography and Environmental Planning from Towson University and furthered his studies at The Johns Hopkins University - Carey Business School and the University of MD Global Campus.

Rhonda Spells-Fentry

Rhonda Spells-Fentry

Vice President, Data Science, Innovation, and Effectiveness 

Dr. Rhonda Spells-Fentry serves as the vice president for Data Science, Innovation, and Effectiveness, at Prince George’s Community College in Largo, MD.  As a member of the college’s executive team, she is responsible for leadership of the College’s information technology, institutional research, strategic plan,  and project management operations. Specific areas of responsibility include business systems applications and solutions, teaching and learning technologies, network infrastructure, telecommunications services, end-user support, IT security, data analytics, business intelligence and assessment, as well as the strategic plan and project management functions.

Jack Suess

Jack Suess

Vice President and Chief Information Officer, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

The Vice President of Information Technology is the university’s Chief Information Officer (CIO). The Vice President provides university leadership for information technology at UMBC and serves on the executive leadership team of the university. The Vice President is responsible for providing information technology services in support of teaching and scholarship, research computing, and administrative support. Reporting directly to the President, the Vice President is responsible for strategic planning and implementation, coordination, budget, personnel, and policy related to information technology at UMBC.
Mr. Jack Suess is an alum of UMBC and has worked at UMBC since 1981. He holds a B.A. Mathematics and M.S. Operations Analysis. Throughout the years he has taught a number of courses at UMBC, including Computer Organization and Assembly Programming, Unix System Administration, and Computers and Society. He has led UMBC information technology since 1997 and was appointed UMBC CIO in 2000. In 2002, he was made a direct report to the President and was named Vice President in 2005. His CV can be found here.
Mr. Suess has been an active researcher in advanced networking and was PI on UMBC’s 1997 NSF grant for vBNS networking and was the PI on a 2014 NSF cyber infrastructure grant to upgrade the network to 100 Gbits. In addition he has been co-PI on a NSF grant to increase women in IT through improved access to global resources and a state grant for broadening IT skills across all majors. He is a regular speaker on data analytics for student success, cybersecurity, identity management, and technology standards for teaching and learning.

Zach Thorn

Zach Thorn

National Conference Director, Government Technology

As National Conference Director for Government Technology magazine, Zachary produces, manages and emcees government IT conferences throughout the country.

Maurice Tyler

Maurice Tyler

Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer, Bowie State University 

Maurice Tyler is a career Information Technology (IT) professional with over 35 years of progressive professional experience. He began his career in corporate America working for Fortune 500 companies, including IBM, Nortel Networks, and Martin Marietta. Now a Chief Information Officer in higher education, Maurice is utilizing his diverse skill set and broad experience to act as a change agent by digitally transforming organizations. His strategic objective is to provide pervasive, seamless, and intuitive access to technology that enables users to be more productive and have ready access to the information and resources required to ensure success.

Jerry Waldron

Jerry Waldron

Interim Executive Director, Maryland Research and Education Network – MDREN 

Currently serving as the Interim Executive Director at the Maryland Research and Education Network (MDREN), Jerry Waldron brings a wealth of experience in higher education IT leadership and strategic planning.  With over 30 years of service in various educational institutions, Jerry has a deep understanding of the complexities and challenges of managing IT infrastructure and services in academic environments.
Jerry's higher education tenure includes roles such as the Chief Information Officer at Salisbury University for nearly 14 years, where he was responsible for comprehensive IT strategic planning and infrastructure management. He also served at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, coordinating major projects like the implementation of Workday HCM and Finance systems. Additional leadership roles include CIO positions at Arcadia University and The College of New Jersey, where he led various initiatives to enhance IT services and infrastructure.
Jerry has a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Education from Central Connecticut State University and a Master’s Degree from the University of Connecticut.  Waldon also completed over 30 hours of graduate studies in Human Development and Advanced Statistics from the University of Maryland.

View Speakers


Tuesday, June 11

8:00 am Eastern

Registration and Light Breakfast

9:00 am Eastern

Welcome and Introductions

9:05 am Eastern

Education Keynote

An insightful presentation on trends, challenges, and opportunities in higher education and how the work of the IT leaders will help advance the vision, enable it, or be impacted by what is coming.

Moderator: Brian Cohen Vice President, The Center for Digital Education

Michael Leahy, Senior Fellow, Government Technology

10:00 am Eastern


10:20 am Eastern

Talent Tango: Navigating the Complexities of IT Recruitment and Retention in Higher Education

Maryland's higher education sector is grappling with the dual challenges of recruiting and retaining top-tier IT talent amidst regional competition and market demands. This focused panel will dive into strategies tailored to Maryland's unique landscape, discussing how institutions can not only attract but also keep the skilled professionals they need.

Moderator: Zachary Thorn, Senior National Conference Director, Government Technology

Jack Suess, Vice President and Chief Information Officer, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Michael Kaiser, Chief Information Security Officer, Towson University

11:10 am Eastern

Unified Tech: Crafting a Collaborative IT Ecosystem in Maryland Education

In the spirit of "United We Innovate," this panel brings together IT leaders from four-year universities and community colleges across Maryland to explore the power of collaboration in higher education. As these institutions navigate a shared landscape of technological challenges and opportunities, this session is dedicated to forging pathways for joint ventures, shared services, and mutual learning. Participants will delve into how collaborative IT strategies can not only address common challenges but also amplify the impact of their missions through unified efforts.

Co-Moderator: Brian Cohen Vice President, The Center for Digital Education

Co-Moderator: David Riggin, Senior Manager, IT Portfolio and Projects, University System of Maryland

Michael Eismeier, Associate Vice Chancellor and Chief Information Officer, University System of Maryland

Maurice Tyler, Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer, Bowie State University

Jerry Waldron, Interim Executive Director Maryland Research and Education Network – MDREN

12:00 pm Eastern

Morning Wrap-up and Lunch

1:00 pm Eastern

United We Innovate: Unlocking the Potential of IT Shared Services

This is an essential discussion for leaders in the higher education IT landscape, focusing on the pivotal role of shared services in transforming institutional efficiency and innovation. This session will explore the strategic implementation of IT shared services. The conversation will shine light on the critical aspects of shared services, from establishing a robust business model to navigating the complexities of governance and risk management. The panel will provide a deeper dive into the multifaceted benefits and inherent challenges of shared services, supported by use cases and lessons learned.

Moderator: Brian Cohen Vice President, The Center for Digital Education

Dave Riggin, Senior Manager, IT Portfolio and Projects, University System of Maryland

Rhonda Spells-Fentry, Vice President, Data Science, Innovation, and Effectiveness

1:50 pm Eastern

Industry Tech Talk

An in-depth conversation with technology industry leaders on technology roadmaps, opportunities, national trends that will impact/influence higher education.

2:45 pm Eastern


3:00 pm Eastern

Around the Room Conversation: What else needs to be on the IT Priority List?

In this transformative and fast-paced era of higher education technology, the IT priority list is continually evolving. From cybersecurity to infrastructure upgrades, institutions are juggling a myriad of critical projects. But what else deserves a spot on this ever-growing list? In this rapid-fire group conversation, we will identify what requires more time, conversation, focus, and leadership within IT organizations, as well as the critical roles that are essential for the success of these important initiatives.

3:30 pm Eastern

Closing Thoughts and Wrap Up

Hilton Baltimore BWI Airport

1739 W Nursery Road
Linthicum Heights, MD 21090
(410) 694-0808

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Advisory Board

Education Representatives

Valarie Burks
Associate Vice President of Information Technology and Chief Information Officer
College of Southern Maryland

Dionne Curbeam
Interim Vice President of Information Technology and Chief Information Officer
Coppin State University

Michael Eismeier
Associate Vice Chancellor & Chief Information Officer
Offices of Administration & Finance/Academic & Student Affairs
University System of Maryland

Rhonda Spells-Fentry
Vice President for Data Science, Innovation, & Effectiveness
Enterprise Technology
Prince George's Community College

Jack Suess
Vice President/Chief Information Officer
Division of Information Technology
University of Maryland Baltimore County

Made Possible by Our Corporate Sponsors

Registration Information / Contact Us

Event Date: June 11, 2024

Open to Public Sector only.

Registration - Free

If you represent a Private Sector organization and are interested in Sponsorship Opportunities, please contact Heather Earney.

Contact Information

For registration and general assistance contact:

Sherri Tidwell
Center for Digital Education
Phone: (916) 932-1382

For assistance or questions concerning Sponsor Logos or Logistics please contact:

Mireya Gaton
Center for Digital Education
Phone: (916) 296-2617

Sponsorship opportunities are available. For more information, contact:

Heather Earney
Center for Digital Education
Phone: (916) 932-1339


Hilton Baltimore BWI Airport

1739 W Nursery Road
Linthicum Heights, MD 21090
(410) 694-0808