A message from the new Sakai Executive Director

I’d like to introduce myself. I’m Ian Dolphin, the new Executive Director of the Sakai Foundation. Many of you know me from my time on the Board of the Sakai Project, during the period of Mellon grant funding and early years of the Foundation. For those who don’t know me, I’ll tell you a little about my background. I began my career as a teacher, but have worked in educational and administrative software for the last twenty years, first facilitating content creation with groups of teachers, and latterly as Head of eStrategy at the University of Hull. During that time I managed a considerable range of grant-funded projects, from either UK or European Union funding sources. For the last three years I’ve been seconded from that post to the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), a part of the UK education funding council structure which provides a series of ICT related services for UK Higher and Further Education. At the JISC my roles included a period as a Programme Director, and, for the last two years, International Director of an initiative involving the JISC and several agencies in New Zealand and Australia. In addition to my time on the Sakai Board, I have also served on the Board of JASIG, the parent organisation for uPortal, and the Curriki content initiative.

Returning to the Sakai Community after two years, it’s difficult to miss the changes. The Sakai Collaboration and Learning Environment is both a more mature, and more widely adopted platform than ever before.
We all owe a debt of gratitude to those — software developers and others — who have improved the environment so much, and who have helped broaden the adoption base. The growth of the teaching and learning community around Sakai is tremendous. Listening to the Teaching and Learning Award winners at the recent Denver conference was a powerful reminder of why this community does what it does; innovate for the benefit of learners and educators.

It’s also very noticeable, whether one attends Sakai Conferences, or participates on mailing lists and other community endeavours, how much of a global community Sakai has become. I was pleased to participate in the Sakai 3 Project meetings in Denver. Around the table were participants from the US, UK, Australia and South Africa. Sakai 3 is international from the outset.

My priorities in my first weeks and months with the Foundation are to understand and review the processes which ensure the health and sustainability of Sakai. I’ll be working closely with Alan Marks, the newly appointed Director of the Sakai 3 Project, to ensure that project gets off to flying start. More critically still, I’ll be finding ways to reach out to the institutions and individuals which make up the Sakai Community, and understand your strategic priorities and goals, so that the Foundation can serve you better. Those conversations are an essential — if not the essential — component of renewing and refreshing Foundation strategy.

It would be wrong to let the opportunity pass to thank the individuals who have occupied this position before me. Chuck Severance, the first Executive Director of the Foundation, who faced the difficult task of transitioning from funded project to community. Michael Korcuska, who shepherded the Foundation through its early years, and Lois Brooks, a Sakai Founder who stepped at short notice in the period following Michael’s departure. I owe a particular debt to Lois for her help in transitioning to my tenure. It is an honour to succeed them.

My intention as Executive Director is to be as transparent and open as possible. I’m iandolphin@sakaifoundation.org — please feel free to drop me a line. Over the next few months I’ll be visiting as many Sakai schools as I can — and some which aren’t users of our software, I hope. You can follow my progress on Twitter (I’m iandolphin24), or my soon-to-be-established blog. I look forward to working with you all.

Ian Dolphin
Executive Director, Sakai Foundation

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