News | Administration

Ready for the Met, Sreenivasan reflects

  • SREE OUT | Chief Digital Officer Sree Sreenivasan (r.), who will step down from his position to become the chief digital office for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, discusses online education at a University Senate plenary last fall.

Although Sree Sreenivasan, Columbia’s first chief digital officer, will hop across town this August to become the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s first chief digital officer, he said that he still has a vested interest in Columbia’s success.

Sreenivasan said that he would miss working in different areas of research and teaching and “working with the students in so many different ways." He added that he is confident that even in the uncertain future of academia, he is certain that Columbia will continue to thrive.

University Provost John Coatsworth announced in an email last week that Sreenivasan is leaving Columbia in August to become the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s first chief digital officer.

Sreenivasan said that, in many ways, his new role at the Met would parallel his present role at Columbia. He will continue to work on digital and social media projects and think of ways to take a prominent institution, digitally, to the next level. But he said that while his job at Columbia was largely academic and focused on online learning, his work at the Met would include other responsibilities, too.

"There are aspects of education in the Met job also, but that's not the only function," Sreenivasan said.

As Columbia’s chief digital officer, Sreenivasan coordinated Columbia’s online learning strategy and partnered with the University's schools and departments to advance digital learning.

Coatsworth said that the chief digital officer position "will continue to be a crucial part of the university's approach to some of the more exciting and thorny issues of our time," and that he will name a new person to fill the role. Sreenivasan will serve until August and then transition to an adjunct position.

Sreenivasan said that he had been very happy at Columbia and had turned down other career chances, but the Met approached him with a rare opportunity.

“Until now, I’ve had a one-way, three-decade-long love affair with the Met,” Sreenivasan said in the Met’s June 20 press release. “So I am absolutely delighted to have this opportunity to contribute as part of the staff and as the leader of the digital media team there.”

Sreenivasan said on his Facebook page, on which he announced his career change, that he had grown up on 89th Street and Madison Avenue and attended school next to Museum Mile—and, when something “you've loved for three decades comes calling, you have to take the call."

At the Met, Sreenivasan’s role will involve heading the Digital Museum Department and managing, producing, and delivering digital content such as documents and interpretive materials for the collection.

Sreenivasan, who taught digital learning and social media and identifies himself on his Twitter account as a "tech evangelist and skeptic," said his experience at Columbia was a critical part of his life.

“I grew up here, I made lifelong friends. … Columbia made me what I am," Sreenivasan said. "I will miss being part of the decision-making process at Columbia."

avantika.kumar@columbiaspectator.com  |  @avantikaku

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Anonymous posted on

Don't know why anyone would leave a huge research university for a museum.

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