On June 7, 1969, J. Gary Augustson became the first student at the University of Maryland to receive any degree in computer science, a Master of Science degree with thesis, "Experiments with Graph Theoretical Clustering Techniques," under the direction of Dr. Jack Minker. Following his M.S. degree, he spent several years in industry and then joined academia where he served as the Vice Provost for Information Technology at The Pennsylvania State University for more than 24 years until his retirement in October of 2006.
As Penn State's Chief Information Officer, Mr. Augustson was responsible for directing the University's Information Technology activities at Penn State's 24 campuses located throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This required supporting both the business needs of Penn State's $3+ billion business enterprise and the IT needs of Penn State's faculty, staff, and more than 83,000 students. During the course of Gary's 24 years at Penn State, he built an IT organization that now numbers more than 500 employees, has an annual budget of nearly $100M, and provides some of the finest IT services of any major research university in the country.
While directing Penn State's IT efforts, Gary focused on facilitating and creating learning communities and supporting top-flight research. This required the construction of an information technology infrastructure that flexibly supported Penn State's varied academic and business activities. Major elements of this infrastructure included a system-wide network that links offices, classrooms, and residence hall rooms at every Penn State campus to the world's information resources. He ensured that there were modern business systems that both provide students, faculty, and staff easy access to information and improve the efficiency of the University's business operations. He helped to develop academic computing services that significantly enhance faculty research activities and improve student learning, and he made sure that there were technology classrooms that provided an environment where faculty can readily use information tools to enhance learning. He also was responsible for developing library information access tools that make information in all forms easily accessible to faculty and students and mechanisms to help ensure the security and integrity of these information resources in a most challenging environment. Auguston played a key role in making Penn State a national leader in applying information technology to the challenges faced by higher education.
By working closely with the corporate community, he brought widespread visibility to Penn State's accomplishments in this arena. He was instrumental in leveraging these accomplishments to craft alliances with key IT partners that significantly enhanced Penn State's IT environment over the last two decades. Gary was also a leader in higher education's national networking efforts and played an important role in shaping higher education's position on national information technology policy issues for more than two decades. In 1996, he chaired the Internet2 Steering Committee, the group that launched the Internet2 project. He also played a similar role at the state level where he was one of the founders of the Pennsylvania Research and Economic Partnership Network (PREPnet), serving as President of the PREPnet for its first seven years of operation. Gary has served on the advisory boards of several key technology vendors and national institutes. He has served in leadership positions in organizations such as Educom/Educause, NASULGC, the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (the consortium of Big Ten universities), and the University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development (UCAID). In 2001, he was awarded Educause's Excellence in Leadership Award, the highest award of its kind in the higher education IT field, for his extraordinary effectiveness, influence, statesmanship, and lifetime achievement both at Penn State and in the broader higher education community.