Johns Hopkins Gazette: July 10, 1995

On Administration:
The Kingsbury Challenge: Unify Hopkins' Information Systems

Ken Keatley
Homewood News and Information

     David Kingsbury seems to be a collector of jobs. 

     He came to Johns Hopkins in 1992 as managing director of the
Genome Data Base, an international collaboration hosted at the
School of Medicine that supports biomedical research, clinical
practice and education by providing human gene mapping

     Within a year, he had added two more tasks to his workload--
he became director of the Welch Laboratory for Applied
Bioinformatics and an associate professor of information
sciences. Another year passed, and he also became director of the
Division of Biomedical Information Sciences, director of the
Welch Medical Library and associate dean for information

     Well, again a year has gone by, and again a rewrite of his
curriculum vitae is in order: Kingsbury has been named the
university's first chief information officer. 

     "I'm told it's a Hopkins tradition: find someone who can
handle a job, then give them another," laughed Kingsbury, during
a rare quiet moment in his office in GDB headquarters, just down
the street--fortunately--from Welch Library and the School of
Medicine. "They're all interesting challenges for me."

     According to university president William C. Richardson, who
tapped Kingsbury for the CIO job shortly before leaving Hopkins
last month to head the Kellogg Foundation, "A centralized CIO
reflects the unique nature of information systems, which must
interact seamlessly university-wide. David Kingsbury brings
experience and vision to the vital task of ensuring that Hopkins'
information network complements and enhances our educational
mission and academic reputation."

     The challenge of the CIO position, which reports directly to
the university president, is to plan, guide and oversee the
integration of all principal categories of information at
Hopkins--be it library resources, multimedia instruction tools,
telecommunications or distance learning.

     That's an especially daunting task at decentralized Hopkins,
where its divisions have traditionally operated with a great
degree of independence.

     "Each of the divisions was doing its own thing, and
information systems were springing up that weren't compatible
with each other," said Kingsbury, a member of the year-old
Information Systems Coordinating Council that recommended
establishing the CIO position. "The committee recognized that
even in a decentralized university, information systems must be
centralized or they just won't work."

     Kingsbury's job is to make it work, a task that will be
greatly enhanced by the establishment later this year of a $12
million high-speed, fiber-optic, enterprise-wide information
network that will eventually link each Hopkins campus or
affiliate in Maryland and Washington, D.C.

     "Our goal is to make the network invisible to the users. If
you need to get into the accounting system or access library
data, you won't need to know where it is located. You'll just do
it," Kingsbury explained. "Now, you can't get into many of these

     As an example of the new system's capabilities, Kingsbury
noted that a biology professor in Mudd Hall could sit at her
desktop computer and download data from the library located on
the Bayview campus. Or, a doctor at Green Spring Station would be
able to retrieve a patient's medical records located at the

     "This is an area where we're not just keeping up. I would
like to think that this network is going to leapfrog us in front
of our peer institutions," Kingsbury said. "We're taking proven
technology and putting it together in an innovative way."

     Besides getting the new network in place, Kingsbury must
work to pull together Hopkins' various academic and
administrative information systems--and, most importantly, the
people who operate them.

     "The real challenge is to get all of the people who need to
use this infrastructure connected, as well as committed to the
idea," Kingsbury added. "Having had experience in consensus
building, I hope to be able to do that in an orderly and stepwise

     While excited by the challenge of leading this new endeavor,
Kingsbury believes his true mission is to institutionalize the
area of responsibility and the mechanism of its funding so that
the CIO will be an integral part of the university's hierarchy.

     "That's as much my goal as anything else--to make sense of
what the position is, so that we will have created an important
central position that will serve the university for a long time,"
he said. "I'm not going to be there forever." 

     And while the busy Kingsbury has two separate business
cards--one for his CIO position, one for everything else--even
that may soon change. 

     "You know, I should have had them printed two-sided," he
said with a laugh.

     Now that's information efficiency.

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