November 30, 2004 -- "My primary focus is to help create a funding 'Rosetta Stone' for Calit²," says Jerry Sheehan. The reference is to an archeological treasure discovered in the late 1700s that allowed the previously impenetrable world of Egyptian hieroglyphs to be translated, making it a key to what had been a confounding puzzle. "By understanding the emerging federal research and development agenda and the research strengths of Calit², my goal is to help create 'translations' that will help us secure funding to realize our vision."
In line with this focus, Sheehan adds that he's also analyzing Calit² empirically to obtain a baseline of areas of strength, where the institute has been successful in the funding arena, as well as current and anticipated government funding opportunities that map to that reality.
Sheehan comes to the institute with B.A. and M.A. degrees in Political Science from Eastern Illinois University and academic training in the public sector. His first job was as policy advisor to the State of Illinois for technology issues.
Says Sheehan, "I advised Lt. Governor Bob Kustra on a variety of issues ranging from the need for a broadband infrastructure to prepare Illinois for the New Economy to the empowering capabilities of new technology for education. In this capacity, I worked with legislative leaders and policy makers, experiences that I believe should prove helpful to Calit²."
In more than seven years at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, he initially focused on outreach to the public sector, ranging from educational institutions to state government and federal agencies. The last three years there, Sheehan turned to issues related to management of the National Computational Science Alliance, a large, virtual organization supported by funding from the NSF Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure program.
"I was the 'collection point' for gathering information from some 40 Alliance partners," says Sheehan. "The last couple of years there I also spent a fair amount of time on issues related to open source software, licensing, and intellectual property as related to the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign."
After NCSA, he moved to Purdue University where, for the last three years, he served as associate vice president for strategic planning and chief operating officer for the central information technology group, which had a $53 million dollar budget and 450 staff -- until Calit² convinced him it was time for another change.
Sheehan points to three things that attracted him to the institute. First was the sense of community. This manifests itself most clearly in the absence of stovepipes or barriers between areas. "Everyone involved seems to be dedicated to improving the whole," he says.
"Second, as Calit² goes from being virtual to having a brick-and-mortar facility, it's going to face some interesting challenges," he says. "The opportunity to help address these challenges intrigued me. The institute's in a situation akin to a business getting ready for its second round of venture capital: Can it convince those in the market to continue to invest and help realize its vision?"
The third thing that attracted Sheehan was the perception of unlimited opportunity. "The institute has a national and international presence focused on leading-edge research," he says. "There's no telling how far it can go."