/// Columbia University Names Sree Sreenivasan Its First Chief Digital Officer
If you know anyone in the New York media scene, then you either know Sree, or you know someone who does. And more often than not, you need only mention him by his first name: Once you and another person establish that you both know Sree, you’re already more than halfway to being friends. For those who don’t know him, Sree or @sree on Twitter is Sreenath Sreenivasan , who has been during the 15 years I’ve known him, a hyperconnected, seemingly permanent fixture at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. (Full-disclosure: I’m a graduate of the school, and was a student of Sree’s 15 years ago.) Having graduated from the school himself in 1993, he simply never left. Nineteen years later, as a professor, he’s taught most subjects in the curriculum at least once, and spent the last seven years holding the title Dean of something or other: Most recently it’s been Dean of Student Affairs. Aside from his academic duties he always found the time and energy to keep a foot in the media game. When I first met him he was teaching a full course load and was a regular contributor to The New York Times Business section, and had just wrapped a gig as a freelance producer for The Nightly Business Report on PBS. He’s been a tech commentator for New York’s local TV news broadcasts, most recently for WCBS; he blogs on social media for CNET , does his own weekly Web-based call-in show on BlogTalkRadio, and teaches workshops for mid-career professionals of every stripe who are trying to get their heads around how to use Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn productively. He also co-founded the South Asian Journalists Association . And when tornado named Sree finally stops whirling, he’s always got time for any student. The sign on the door to his office reads: “Yes you can bug me” “Don’t worry, you’re NOT interrupting.” So it will probably come as a bit of a shock to anyone who’s passed through the J-Schools halls during the last two decades that Sree is leaving, though he’s not going far. Today Columbia appointed him its first Chief Digital Officer. It’s a new academic position in the office of the Provost John Coatsworth (the university’s highest academic officer) focusing on driving online education initiatives. Columbia, like every other major university in the world, is trying to figure out how best to deliver its courses via the Web. It’s a weighty subject covered in detail in a session with Stanford University president John Hennessy and Khan Academy’s Salman Khan at D:All Things Digital last month.