New head of Emerson’s IT department slated to take over position for spring semester

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Photo: Xinyi Xu

Brian Basgen, then-Assistant Vice President of IT, at an SGA meeting in 2019.

By Camilo Fonseca, Assistant News Editor

Former Associate Vice President of Information Technology Brian Basgen is slated to lead the college’s IT department following the retirement of former Vice President William Gilligan in December. 

The appointment, announced on Dec. 23, came after Gilligan opted in to the college’s early retirement program. Gilligan steered the college’s IT department for nearly four decades. 

Basgen, who has been with Emerson since 2016, helped the college adapt its technological services to the necessities of the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with Gilligan, he oversaw several new initiatives, including developing software tools for test reporting, contact tracing, and epidemiological data modeling, according to an email from President M. Lee Pelton. Basgen also helped the college establish its new system of hybrid learning.

“[Brian and his team] turned on a dime to make facilities ready for distance learning,” Gilligan said in an interview with The Beacon. “He helped prepare hundreds of faculty—in [a] really rapid fire [manner] last spring—for a way of teaching most of them had never even thought about before.”

In his new role, Basgen said his immediate priorities are expanding the department’s current data modeling efforts, particularly those related to the coronavirus.

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“Our job is to provide better tools for the administration to make decisions,” Basgen said. “That means improving data quality and how it’s gathered and analyzed.”

Basgen said the IT department is working to make lab courses “more accessible” for students by “virtualizing” coursework into software applications.

“We keep working to find more remote solutions for students to engage with,” Basgen said.

Along with the IT department, Basgen will also manage Gilligan’s other former areas of responsibility on an interim basis. Among these are Media Technologies and Production—a division that includes the Equipment Distribution Center, the EVVY Awards, and Emerson Channel—and the college’s WERS radio station.

“There’s such a wide breadth,” said Basgen of his predecessor’s portfolio. “[Gilligan] touched so many different parts of the college.”

Gilligan first joined the college as an assistant professor, teaching a course on Computer Applications & Mathematics in 1984. He was named one of the college’s twelve vice presidents in 1999 and shepherded the IT department through the turn of the millennium, as the fabric of the college, and modern life, was redefined by the Information Revolution.

“The last thirty years have been pretty darn transformative for the college,” Basgen said. “He got to experience and shape that.”

Gilligan, on the other hand, attributed much of the IT department’s recent accomplishments to Basgen and other employees.

“One of the reasons I’ve been successful for 36 years is that I’m smart enough to hire smarter people,” he said.

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