Sally A. Jackson

Areas of Achievement: 
Community Building
Higher Education
Home Making

When Dr. Sally Jackson left the University of Arizona in 2007, she left us with innovative accomplishments that would help keep the UA continually advancing in the ever-changing technological era. Prior to leaving the University, Jackson held the challenging position of Chief Information Officer (CIO). Amongst other duties, her major responsibility included 'providing strategic leadership in the development and use of information technology in support of the University's vision for excellence in research, teaching, outreach, and lifelong learning.' This was a responsibility that she took to heart and as Provost George Davis said, 'Sally's leadership has been distinguished by accomplishment in many different areas of information technology.'

Jackson was born in Alton, Illinois on December 16, 1952 to Keith L. and Geraldine G. Jackson. Her father was a mechanical engineer who, through hard work and the support of Geraldine, climbed his way up to become the president of an engineering company, a position he held until his retirement. Along with supporting the success of Keith, Gerry supported the success of her four daughters as well: Barbara, Sally, Carol, and Mary.

Jackson earned all three of her degrees, B.A. in 1974, M.A. in 1976, and Ph.D. in 1980, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Speech Communication. Between her first two degrees, Jackson married Scott Jacobs in 1975. She considers her greatest accomplishment to be giving birth to their only child, Curtis Jackson-Jacobs on November 8, 1978, while continuing her Ph.D. studies. Jackson began as a professor and advanced her career by securing the position of CIO at the UA, now currently holding the same position at her alma mater. Though Jackson values her advanced position within her filed, she still places a high value on her earlier scholarly accomplishments: 'I still value my scholarly accomplishments more highly than anything I've done in administration. I'm particularly proud of the success of my graduate students, but also proud of the influence my husband Scott Jacobs and I have had within the field of argumentation. We've been research collaborators all our lives.'

Jackson's primary research has been in argumentation. Combining her passion along with her five years as the CIO for the UA, Jackson's experience was beneficial to 'leading Arizona down a distinctive path in uses of the web in teaching and learning, and making risky choices that had high value for Arizona.' Her time here at Arizona saw the implementation of such programs as Polis, a forum in which faculty members and students could enhance courses through the use of technology. Network master Plan, a ten-year plan that ensures such developments as 'higher performance and improved network response times, seamless wireless network ÌÇconnectivity,' new software tools for users,' as well as many other significant developments to advance faculty and student technology services at the UA: The Technology Refresh Bank, a program established to fund student labs for students' use in departments, and the establishment of the Office of Student Computing Resources (OSCR). Probably one of the most notable advancements that Jackson made while at the UA was aiding in obtaining a grant from the National Science Foundation for the ADVANCE program. This program 'seeks to actively advance the research and scientific reputation of the University of Arizona by promoting faculty diversity and the equitable treatment of faculty [ÌÐ] regardless of gender, race, or ethnicity.'

Jackson is considered a first here at the UA, for being the first female to hold the position of CIO. It's an accomplishment which she is very proud. 'I feel amazingly honored to be among these women ̱ but in truth another woman occupied my first role before I did. That was Amelia Tynan, known to everyone as Mely. She has all the responsibility of the Chief Information Officer but under a different title at Arizona.' In her position, Jackson takes seriously her belief that she can only increase other women's chances in her filed if she utilizes the opportunities offered to a woman in her position. 'There is a lot of research that shows that once you reach a certain level of representation for women, the job no longer looks like a man's job. But before you reach that level of representation, a token woman among men can be as harmful to the chances of other women as they can be helpful. A token woman cannot afford to make even small mistakes, because everything you do from that position is noticeable and adds to gender schemas that may keep other women from being given a fair chance at success.'

In 2008, Jackson is currently the CIO and Associate Provost at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Professor of Communication. Though she left the University of Arizona, Jackson's accomplishments and fulfillment of her duty as CIO will continuously aid in the advancement of technology for faculty and students alike. Her accomplishments will continue to live on at the UA through the Women's Plaza of Honor: 'The Plaza tells more about when women started to be honored than about when women started to contribute at high levels. I do know that what I was first at was not making the contributions of ability and efforts, but at having those contributions noticed and valued in this way,' Jackson says.