New VP Christina Baum Leads UVU Through Digital Crossroads |

The phrase “digital transformation” may conjure imagery of sparkling, new technologies,
but for Christina Baum, Utah Valley University (UVU) vice president of digital transformation
(Dx) and chief information officer (CIO), digital transformation is about more than
that.

“I think it’s also the culture,” Baum said. “It’s the willingness to try new things.
It’s the willingness to be adaptable, too. It’s really a strong partnership with our
faculty, with our staff, and with our students.”

A mother of three and lover of golf, skiing, and music, Baum officially began serving
in her new role June 1. She and her team dived right into the work, developing a mission
statement and plan: “to lead UVU’s digital transformation by providing reliable, state-of-the-art
solutions for our teaching, learning, and work environments that are intuitive, transparent,
and delightful to use.”

“I really want UVU to be seen as a thought leader in higher education for innovation
or state of the art technology,” Baum said. “And what we can do to reduce barriers
for students to make things faster, more efficient, and easier for them to be successful.”

A wealth of educational and work experience has prepared Baum to be a powerful leader
of UVU’s digital transformation. She studied history with a minor in business as an
undergraduate at Brigham Young University (BYU) with the original goal of attending
law school, but the course of her schooling changed, and she earned her MBA at Washington
State.

Growing up, Baum never imagined a career path in technology as an option for her,
but after graduating with her MBA she began work as a project manager at Schweitzer
Engineering Laboratories (SEL) in the Research & Development department, and she realized
she had an aptitude for working with technology.

“I just learned a ton,” Baum said. “I remember, to begin with, just thinking everything
was numbers and letters, acronyms, and it was Greek to me, but I just dug in there
and realized how much I really love technology.”

Since then, Baum has held several challenging positions, including solution manager
of the database platform team at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and
CIO at Ensign College (then called LDS Business College). Each position provided her
with opportunities to learn, effect change, and dive deeper into the field of technology.

While affecting digital transformation at Ensign college, she noticed an opening for
the associate vice president of academic and student digital services at UVU. “I had
been watching UVU and admiring the growth and the focus on inclusivity and really
jumped at the chance to be part of what’s going on here,” said Baum.

In her position as AVP, Baum worked on end user technologies, the university website
and mobile app, Data Warehouse, classroom technology, student computing, labs, and
institutional research. Then in May, when then VP Dr. Kelly Flanagan became dean of
the College of Engineering and Technology, Baum assumed the position of vice president.

Every project that the Dx department works on relates to UVU’s vision of being inclusive,
providing students with engaged and flexible learning opportunities, and helping them
achieve their full potential. Students have different backgrounds and experiences,
but Baum believes that technology can be the great equalizer as UVU helps provide
access to all.

“I know that in our demographic, we’ve got a whole variety of students with different
walks of life and different situations,” she said. “The more we can meet them with
technology, make that experience easier for them, make it intuitive, transparent,
and reduce the barriers they may face, the more successful they can be.”

The Dx team plans to hire students for internships and part-time jobs. Students will
become part of the “little army” helping deliver faster and better products, all while
enhancing their own education and representing the student voice in product development.
The team also plans to forge a connection with Silicon Slopes in Lehi as a pipeline
for these students, now with their hands-on experience, to get good jobs upon graduation.

“I can see UVU really differentiating itself because of the focus on technology here,”
Baum said.  “I love our mission. I love our focus on students. I love that we have
the dual mission — that we can really focus on their needs.”

Other plans for Dx include but are not limited to: bolstering the new UVU mobile app
to make everything a student needs available on their mobile device; rebuilding the
university website to make it easier to navigate; improving cellular coverage and
the network on campus; and developing an Artificial Intelligence (AI) chatbot for
the service desk, so students can get answers to their questions during off hours.
Down the road, the goal is to have recordings and transcriptions of class lectures
that students can search via a chatbot to aid their studies.

Dx also plans to help faculty and staff become more efficient in their jobs, said
Baum. There are still several paper-based and manual processes that haven’t kept pace
with UVU’s growth, and Dx plans to mature and modernize their technology. The department
also plans to improve current predictive analytics tools so advisers can quickly see
which students are at risk and reach out to help them with a click of a button.

“I feel like the next five years are going to be incredible,” Baum said. “I think
we’re going to have incredible growth in technology here. And I feel like it’s a pivotal
time for UVU. I think we’re at that crossroads, really stepping on the gas and really
launching this digital transformation even more than we already have.”

To learn more about exciting developments in digital transformation at UVU, visit
their website.