Robert Devries, a longtime digital transformation and technology leader with the Government of Ontario, has been named associate vice-president and chief information officer (CIO) at the University of Guelph.
He will join U of G on Aug. 14.
He was selected by a search committee led by Dr. Gwen Chapman, provost and vice-president (academic).
“Rob Devries is a strategic leader with an enterprise systems mindset,” said Chapman. “He has extensive experience leading the development, implementation and support of enterprise systems, leveraging modern technology platforms, enabled by diverse and inclusive teams and governance.
“Rob was the clear leader in our national search, and I am confident that he will help guide U of G’s digital transformation as we look to enhance teaching, research and services across campus.”
At U of G, Devries will lead the Department of Computing and Communications Services, including providing strategic direction and oversight of the design, development, operation and support of the University’s IT capabilities.
“I was drawn to this role by the exciting opportunity to help the University modernize its capabilities through leveraging digital tools and culture,” said Devries. “This is a time of strategic renewal, and transforming how we enable our faculty, students and staff to meet their goals – from better tools to support our research to a reimagined student experience – is a necessity to deliver on the strategy. I look forward to working together with all members of the U of G community to enable this change.”
Previously, Devries served as chief information officer in supporting and transforming key Ontario government functions including those delivered through ServiceOntario, as well as the delivery of technology to support payroll, procurement, recruitment and other services for more than 56,000 employees.
Most recently, as assistant deputy minister, digital platforms, within the Ontario Digital Service, he led Ontario’s digital credential program and the delivery of critical tools to support the province’s COVID-19 pandemic response and recovery.
He oversaw development of the provincial vaccine certificate verifier app and Ontario’s daily pandemic response dashboard used by government leaders to track key indicators of the pandemic response. Devries helped lead the creation of a standard vaccine credential format adopted by all provinces and territories.
He currently helps lead the pan-Canadian Cybersecurity and Digital Trust initiative involving all levels of government in creating interoperable and trustworthy digital credentials from driver’s licences to advanced education credentials. For the latter project, he has worked closely with the Ministry of Colleges and Universities, as well as the Association of Canadian Registrars and individual universities in Ontario to ensure alignment of those efforts with emerging technologies and standards.
Referring to institutions including universities, Devries said, “All organizations across the public and private sectors must evolve to become digital organizations. They must reimagine how services can be transformed through modern technology platforms, architectures and new ways of working to remain relevant to their communities.”
Devries studied business administration at Simon Fraser University. He has served as a board director of the Digital Identity and Authentication Council of Canada since 2018.