Tonjia Coverdale, Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer, Central State University
1. Did you always want to work in IT?
No, I actually wanted to be a math professor. I fell into the field accidentally when I changed my major in my first year in college from Math by randomly selecting Information Systems from the catalog because it looked like it was a better-balanced academic program.
2. Tell us about your career path.
My career path is unique because it spans both industry and academia and has even taken me to paradise! I started my career in 1997 as an IT Specialist at IBM in Gaithersburg, MD where I was a programmer and tester. I then relocated to Atlanta, GA for an IT Solutions Specialist position at HP where I began database management and design in addition to programming. After I received my MBA in Computer Information Systems at Georgia State University, Accenture recruited me as a Solutions Engineering Consultant in their Communications and High Tech service line, where I primarily served as an application architect for a large global telecommunications company. Upon receiving acceptance into the first cohort of the Ph.D. in Business Administration program at my alma mater Morgan State University (Baltimore, MD), I relocated to Wilmington, DE to continue my studies and became an assistant professor at Delaware State University in Dover. Upon completing my Ph.D. with a concentration in Information Systems, I relocated to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands for an assistant professor position at the University of the Virgin Islands. In addition to my teaching and research duties, I also served as a Director in several capacities and wrote a new BBA in Information Systems and Technology degree. While at UVI, the Governor of the Virgin Islands appointed me to serve as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Virgin Islands Next Generation Network, which is a $118M federally funded 100% fiber-optic middle mile broadband network. During my tenure, I completed the construction of the network, which is one of the first networks in the United States to cover an entire State/Territory. Currently, merging my industry and academic experiences, I am the Vice President for IT and CIO at Central State University, where I focus on strategic technology implementation for operational efficiencies and institutional effectiveness with an emphasis on the deployment of innovative, smart technology-based solutions to support student success, retention, and institutional growth and sustainability.
3. Are you leading a digital transformation?
I am definitely leading a digital transformation at Central State University that emphasizes both customer experience and revenue growth and operational efficiency. I am able to balance the two because I am focused on transforming the entire educational experience, which encompasses streamlining organizational processes in addition to academic processes, to support student success and retention through the strategic implementation of information technologies. For example, by transforming the registration, financial aid, academic advisement, and other related organizational processes through innovation and improving efficiencies in these areas, the overall Central State experience improves for our students leading to increased enrollment and retention rates, which translates directly into revenue growth for the University. Our digital transformation is “Central” to our continued growth and sustainability.