Virginia Evans recalls clearly the time when she was advised that the University of Virginia would need to move its 2020 spring semester courses online during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The task was enormous and the time frame short. Evans, UVA’s chief information officer, found herself at the point of the University’s hectic dash to shift 4,200 classes for thousands of students online so instruction could continue while everyone anxiously awaited vaccines that would safely enable in-person activities, including a return to classrooms.
In a community message announcing the decision in March 2020, President Jim Ryan described the unique challenge.
“There is no roadmap for trying to put most of the University curriculum online in a week,” he said.
UVA’s Information Technology Services division, led by Evans, and their colleagues across the Academic Division made it happen.
“It was a difficult situation, but it was really satisfying that IT could help, and we were able to do that very quickly,” she recalled. “I was so proud of our team.”
In her 30-plus years at UVA, Evans experienced plenty of significant technology challenges and worked with ITS colleagues and leaders across Grounds to overcome them. Now, however, she is ready for new and different challenges.
Evans recently announced her plans to retire, effective Dec. 31, as UVA’s chief information officer, a position she has held since 2014.
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Jennifer “J.J.” Wagner Davis appointed Deputy CIO Dana German to serve as interim ITS leader following Evans’s retirement from her post, and during a national search for the position. The search will begin in January. Evans will stay on as special assistant to the chief operating officer through early April of next year.
“Virginia Evans and her team have managed the University’s technology enterprise through times of significant and constant change, with a proactive approach that solved many complex problems, prevented others, and anticipated what technology UVA would need next to carry out its mission,” Davis said. “I’m grateful that Virginia will be assisting us in the transition to a successor and equally grateful that Dana German has agreed to lead ITS on an interim basis. This approach ensures that our technology operation will continue to get the highest level of attention and care.”
Davis also credited Evans for significantly improving UVA’s technology infrastructure and security, making IT service more responsive, and developing a roadmap to make research computing more robust.
Evans earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a master’s degree in management information systems from UVA’s McIntire School of Commerce.
She joined the UVA staff in 1986. During her time on Grounds, she has served in various roles within Finance, the UVA Medical Center, the Darden School of Business and ITS. Evans said that exposure to so many different areas of the University turned out to be her secret sauce to being effective.
“UVA’s culture is collaborative,” she said. “Knowing lots of people around Grounds served me well. That is the highlight of my work at UVA – the relationships I have developed and the people I have worked with.”