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National Technology Initiative Relocates to Southwestern

  • News Image
    Southwestern graduate Joey King will become the new executive director of NITLE.
  • News Image
    Members of the NITLE staff pose for a group photo during a July 2009 visit to Southwestern.

Southwestern University will become the new home for the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE), a technology initiative that serves more than 130 colleges in the United States and abroad.

NITLE was established in 2001 with funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to provide small liberal arts colleges with collaboration resources, professional development programs, and information services that might otherwise be unavailable to them. NITLE has operated through a network of centers and regional offices, with staff in nine states led by Executive Director Jo Ellen Parker. Parker is leaving to become president of Sweet Briar College in Virginia July 1.

Since 2004, NITLE has been “incubated” within Ithaka, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the academic community use digital technologies to advance scholarship and teaching. Ithaka’s services include JSTOR, which gives faculty members at Southwestern and other universities access to a vast database of images and journal articles.

W. Joseph (Joey) King, a Southwestern graduate who holds a Ph.D. in human-computer interaction from the University of Washington, has been named the new executive director of NITLE. King is currently president of QOOP, a social commerce network for artists, photographers, authors and publishers. Prior to joining QOOP, he was executive director of Connexions at Rice University, a leading open education system with more than one million unique visitors per month. He also is chairman of the board of Rice University Press.

King assumed his new position May 18 and will also hold the title of vice president for innovation at Southwestern.

“I am tremendously excited about the future of NITLE,” King said. “Our goal is to provide participating institutions with technological solutions that add to their effectiveness in teaching. Being campus-based will allow NITLE to develop best practices and both test and demonstrate them in a real-world learning environment.”

Southwestern was one of the first institutions to participate in NITLE and currently serves as a regional host campus for NITLE staff who design and deliver professional development and networking programs for faculty, technologists and librarians from participating campuses.  

Southwestern’s history with NITLE, its leadership, and its location in the center of the country were significant factors in the decision to move to the campus, said Ithaka President Kevin Guthrie.

“Integrating NITLE with Southwestern University marks a new and exciting chapter in NITLE’s development and positions the organization for a deeper level of collaboration with the college community,” Guthrie said. “Much has been accomplished in developing NITLE’s programs and services, and it is therefore timely to return oversight of NITLE to an institution focused on undergraduate education. There, engagement with the day-to-day work of faculty and students will have a mutually beneficial impact on the organization and its constituents.”

Officials from The Mellon Foundation also supported the move.

“When NITLE’s full team of distributed experts is marshaled under Southwestern’s innovative and efficient leadership, valuable synergies are sure to emerge,” said Philip E. Lewis, vice president for the foundation’s Liberal Arts Colleges Program.

The Mellon Foundation has played a critical role in the transition of NITLE to Southwestern, including the transfer of some $4 million in existing grants and operating funds.

Southwestern President Jake B. Schrum said the move is a win-win for both Southwestern and NITLE. “In NITLE’s brief history, it has become well known for helping liberal arts colleges utilize technology to teach students,” he said. “We see a very bright future for NITLE at Southwestern because both organizations are focused on the most important thing: preparing citizens for the 21st century. This transition is another example of the Mellon Foundation’s forward-thinking philanthropy in higher education.”

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