UC Davis has agreed to pay Washington State University’s chief information officer $312,500 annually to head up its IT enterprise.
As the UCD’s new chief information officer and vice provost for information and educational technology, starting Aug. 18, Viji Murali replaces Pete Siegel, who in 2013 accepted a position at the University of Southern California.
Murali has served as Washington State’s vice president for information services and CIO for its four campuses and WSU Online since 2007.
Chancellor Linda Katehi called Murali “a leader in her field” and said UCD is “incredibly fortunate to recruit someone with Viji’s experience and expertise.”
Murali served as CIO from 1999 to 2007 at Western Michigan University, after an 11-year stint at the University of Arizona. There, she began as systems administrator for the College of Education before working her way up to director of systems management for the Center for Computing Information Technology.
Said Murali, in UCD’s online publication Dateline, “I am excited to be joining a university with such a wonderful reputation, to lead the IT enterprise that contributes to the university’s excellence, in everything from student success to research. I intend to develop a shared vision with the faculty, staff and students, and we will move the institution to even greater heights.”
Murali began her academic career in biology and chemistry. She earned a bachelor’s degree in those subjects from Osmania University in India in 1975 and a master’s degree in organic chemistry two years later from Osmania’s College of Science.
She was working toward her doctorate while working at an Osmania-affiliated laboratory when she and her husband, Subra Muralidharan, followed his career as a postdoctoral researcher first to the University of Notre Dame and then to Iowa State University.
Murali told Dateline that she decided to change career directions, to computer science, after a conversation with her father in India.
“He’s a rocket scientist, literally,” she said. “He told me, ‘You are in the land of opportunity. Twenty years from now, technology will be the key.’ ”
She completed two years of undergraduate work at Iowa State, then earned her master’s degree at Arizona when her husband’s career took him west.
At Washington State, Murali’s accomplishments included overseeing the completion of high-speed connectivity for faculty with national research networks, including the Idaho Regional Optical Network; installation of high-performance, IRON-connected computing clusters at WSU’s three urban campuses; and classroom upgrades to support high-definition video.
Murali has served as a board member and, this year, the president and chief executive officer of IRON, a project of WSU, the state of Idaho, Idaho’s state universities and hospital association and the Idaho National Laboratory.
Muralidharan, Murali’s husband, has accepted a three-year teaching and research appointment at an annual starting salary of $139,000 through UCD’s Partner Opportunities Program. He has served as a professor in WSU’s School of Molecular Biosciences, where his lab’s research focus has been cancer metastasis.
Prasant Mohapatra, a computer science professor, served as UCD’s interim CIO after Siegel’s departure. Siegel earned an annual base salary of $262,500, according to a state worker database.
— Reach Cory Golden at [email protected] or 530-747-8046. Follow him on Twitter at @cory_golden