Don Welch


Don Welch is the Interim Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer for Pennsylvania State University. He is also an Affiliate Professor in the College of Information Sciences and Technology and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.  Previously he served as the CISO for Penn State and the University of Michigan including all campuses and the Health System.  In both universities he was instrumental in strategically orienting information assurance with the universities mission and strategy.  He was a member the Michigan Governor’s Cyber Security Advisory Council and was a co-author of Michigan’s Cyber Strategic Plan.

He was the CEO of Merit Network from 2006 to 2014.  During that time Merit added a full portfolio of IT services, created the internationally recognized Michigan Cyber Range and built 2400 miles of fiber optic cable as part of the 2009 Stimulus program.  He received numerus awards to include being named a Champion of Change by the White House, Top CEO for Michigan, and Leader and Innovator of the Year. He has served on two non-profit boards, and as chair of the research and education network association.  He has held leadership roles in many committees, conferences and advisory councils for education, technology and information security.

Don served as the CTO at H-E-B, a $12B retail/distribution/manufacturing company that operates in Texas and Mexico.  Before starting his civilian career he served in the U. S. Army, retiring as a Colonel and earning the Legion of Merit.  His last position was CIO and Professor of Computer Science at West Point.  He has over 3 dozen publications and regularly presents at professional conferences.  Some of his other Army assignments, include tours of duty with the Army’s counterterrorist unit Delta Force, and service as the senior human resources manager for the Army’s uniformed information technology workforce.  At the start of his Army career he commanded two light infantry companies and three infantry platoons.  He has served on numerous boards for technology and education.

He has a BS from West Point, MS in Computer Science from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and the Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Maryland.  He also earned paratrooper wings and the Ranger Tab.

EDUCAUSE Publications

  • Creating a Cybersecurity Strategy for Higher Education
    • Article

    Cyberattacks on higher education are increasingly frequent and damaging. Meeting the challenge, especially in higher education, requires strategic thinking, and that strategy must come from cybersecurity-specific strategic thinking.

  • It's Time to Set CISOs Free
    • Article

    Higher education cybersecurity is challenging, but having CISOs report directly to senior leadership could make it easier.

EDUCAUSE Presentations