Faces of UMSI: Ted Hanss

Unlike most doctoral students at UMSI, who enter the job market in the final year of the program, Ted Hanss will use his education in his current position as Chief Information Officer of the University of Michigan Medical School. 

Ted has worked in information technology at the university in various capacities since 1985. Born in New York, Ted came to Ann Arbor when he was three. He broke away for a few years to earn a BS in biology at Boston College before returning home as editor of a bicycling magazine. An editing position in the university’s computing center shifted his career trajectory to the field of information technology.

Ted was the director of Enabling Technologies at the University of Michigan Medical School when he applied to the doctoral program at UMSI in 2008. The UMSI PhD program is a full-time commitment, which meant that Ted now had two full-time jobs. But he was no stranger to doubling up his professional and academic work loads. In 1994 he earned an MBA through the Ross School of Business evening program while serving as director of the university’s Center for Information Technology Integration.

In 2010, he was appointed the CIO of the medical school, overseeing 170 employees and an operating budget of $22 million, where he is responsible for the cyberinfrastructure and IT staff that support the med school’s research and educational systems. He is also nearing completion of his doctorate, which he expects to receive in 2013.

He researches how institutions in developing countries, particularly in Africa, share their educational resources. His fieldwork has taken him to Uganda, Ghana and South Africa. His interest in that region was sparked in 2008, as a member of President Mary Sue Coleman’s delegation to Ghana and South Africa. Much of his research at UMSI has been funded by grants from organizations such as the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the National Science Foundation.

His association with the School of Information has roots that pre-date his enrolling as a doctoral student. For eight years, he was “on loan” from the university to Internet2, the consortium of 300 government, education and industry members working on the future of the Internet. That consortium was headed by Doug Van Houweling, who is now the associate dean for research and innovation at UMSI. “In the course of my career here at Michigan, I got to know all the deans at the school,” he says. He began discussing the possibility of pursuing a PhD with Stephanie Teasley, who was then the director of the doctoral program. Teasley is now his advisor.

“UMSI is a great community for a non-traditional student like me,” he says. “One of its great strengths is its multi-disciplinary nature. The students here get an excellent education combined with practical experience.”

He has a rare appreciation for the quality of education at UMSI, from both a student’s and employer’s perspective. “At the med school, we hire a lot of UMSI grads,” he says.

Ted’s wife, Erica, is chief of staff at the Dental School. They have two sons, Mark and David. In June, 2013, Mark began a 27-month Peace Corps commitment in Togo, West Africa, working in community health and AIDS prevention. David and his wife, Alana, live in Ann Arbor, where David works for Gold Star Financial and Alana is a social worker in Detroit.

Read an article on Ted's contributions to the next generation of IT at the University of Michigan.