April 27, 2022

Dear Members of Our Campus Community,

It is with great sadness that I write to share the news that Tom Putnam, our former Associate Vice Chancellor for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer from 2007 until his retirement in 2013, passed away on April 5. As our campus’s first CIO, Tom worked with great dedication to advance information technology on our campus.

Our hearts go out to his wife, our colleague Professor Emerita Linda Putnam, and to all of his family, friends, and colleagues. In his honor, our campus flag is lowered to half-staff today.

I am honored to share the following remembrance from the Putnam family.

Thomas M. Putnam III (1945 – 2022)

Thomas (Tom) Milton Putnam III passed away on April 5, 2022 after a struggle with Parkinson’s Disease. He was Associate Vice Chancellor for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer from 2007-2013 at UCSB. Born in Oakland, California, he grew up in Los Alamos, New Mexico and received his Bachelor of Science in Physics from the University of Colorado and his Masters in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin.

Tom loved technology and entered the computing field before PCs and the Internet were developed. His UCSB appointment culminated a 45-year career in computer systems work, one that included positions in medical laboratory systems at Honeywell, Inc., manager of User Services at Purdue University, and Director of Computing and Information Services at Texas A&M University. Through these positions, he witnessed the evolution of an industry in which his career was constantly being re-invented.

At UCSB, he oversaw campus computer systems, planned strategic initiatives for information technology (IT), and worked on information security and privacy. In this capacity, he helped the campus hire its first Chief of Information Security Officer. During his tenure, he also rolled out a campus-wide electronic time-keeping system and an e-purchase system. To support computer innovations on campus, he moved the University to a new fee-based system funded through FTE enrollments. He also coordinated with senior institutional leaders to replace aging IT systems at UCSB and across UC campuses.

As CIO, Tom oversaw seven direct employees and over 500 indirect staff and student workers. His employees viewed him as a supportive and positive leader who helped them accomplish what they needed to do. They cast him as a wise manager who offered thoughtful insights through sharing his knowledge and expertise.

Music was a big part of Tom’s life and he was a masterful twelve-string guitar player. He joined jam groups in Santa Barbara and performed locally for special events and retirement communities. As a member of the Sunrise Chapter of the Rotary Club of Santa Barbara, he organized activities for the annual Old-Time Fiddlers’ Festival. In addition, he served as Club Treasurer and Membership Director for the chapter.

He enjoyed skiing, tennis, sailing and fishing and traveled around the world, often with his wife and daughter. He captured these moments with his love for photography and his extensive video collections. He will be remembered for his “can do” attitude in tackling seemingly insurmountable problems, his gentle spirit, and his dry wit.

He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Linda Putnam, UCSB Distinguished Research Professor Emerita; his daughter Ashley Putnam and son-in-law, Dartagnan Delgado of Philadelphia, PA; and his brother Gregory Putnam and sister-in-law Caryl Putnam of Healdsburg, CA.  

A memorial will be held in his honor on Monday, May 30, 3:00 p.m. at Palm Park Beach House. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Parkinson’s Foundation, 1359 Broadway, Suite, New York, NY 10018 or to The Rotary Club of Santa Barbara Sunrise Charitable Foundation, P.O. Box 50355, Santa Barbara, CA 93150-0355.