Dr. Brian Atkinson successfully manages a multi-faceted career that straddles several spheres of the higher education ecosystem. Throughout his professional life, he has balanced the unique ability to clearly articulate the complexities of data-centric and technological environments and tools, while developing leadership acumen, and establishing himself as a mentor, teacher, and scholar.
Dr. Atkinson began his technical career as a systems analyst managing an extensive data library within a research center at the University of Arizona (UA). He quickly rose through the ranks to become a director and assistant dean whose responsibilities included managing infrastructure, technology, and creative services at the largest college at the UA. His intense focus on the intersection of technology and leadership was demonstrated through promoting numerous campus level initiatives and providing strategic and operational oversight for collegiate, departmental, group, and individual technical accomplishments. While many of these successes were accomplished by members of the department that he founded, a noteworthy portion leveraged his strong commitment to dialog, collaboration, and cooperation and his understanding of social, technical, administrative, and organizational networks that are necessary to achieve cross-campus support.
Dr. Atkinson’s multidisciplinary research in natural language processing (NLP) leverages information retrieval (IR) and learning theory, data architecture and modeling, and multi-modal analysis techniques to examine the roles and characteristics of higher education information executives. These are the very types of executives that he had worked with on numerous projects and initiatives during his 20+ years at the University of Arizona.
In addition to having earned a doctorate studying large-scale text analysis and processing, Dr. Atkinson also earned a terminal master’s degree in Information Resources & Library Sciences and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Both degrees remain integral to his teaching and research. Visual cognition, learning theory, and information retrieval consistently provide vital foundations that support identification and communication of the patterns found in extraordinarily large data sets and multi-faceted theoretical data constructs.
Dr. Atkinson is a Navy veteran and was recalled to active duty for the First Gulf War where he served as part of a ship’s navigational team. Recently he returned from sailing a 43-foot catamaran in the British Virgin Islands, he has set his sights on earning his captain’s credentials before the upcoming summer.
Dr. Atkinson divides his time between Arizona and Illinois where his wife is a senior leader in the banking industry.