Merit Network names new CEO

ANN ARBOR–Roger Blake, currently at Palo Alto Networks, has been selected as the president and CEO of Merit Network Inc.

Blake spent four years at Palo Alto, working as a sales manager for government and education, and later public sector account manager. Prior to tht he spent over 11 years as a regional vice president for government and education at AT&T.

Roger Blake. Merit Network Inc. photo.

Blake earned a Bachelor of Arts in telecommunication with high honor from Michigan State University and an MBA from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

His selection was announced by Melissa Woo, executive vice president for administration and CIO at Michigan State University, and Josh Olson, CIO at Michigan Technological University, co-chairs of the search committee, and chair and vice-chair of Merit’s board of directors.

In a statement attributed to both Woo and Olson in a news release, they said: “We are excited that Roger Blake has agreed to accept the position of president and CEO of Merit Network. Roger’s experience leading large organizations in the telecom industry along with his strong strategic planning skills will suit Merit well. Many qualified candidates were involved in the search process; however, it was Roger who really stood out.”

Blake’s appointment, recommended by a search committee consisting of members of Merit’s board, external peers, and Merit leadership, was unanimously approved by Merit’s board. Blake will join Merit on July 3.

“The importance of reliable and secure network connectivity as a difference maker in people’s lives has never been so clear,” Blake said. “Bandwidth drives opportunity. Enabling connections for Merit community members that create possibilities to impact economic, health, and educational outcomes across Michigan is not just a job but a calling and I am excited to get started.”

Blake brings to Merit an extensive background of building relationships and achievements within the information technology and internet service provider space. During his time with Palo Alto networks, he collaborated and partnered with various higher education, K-12, and public institutions to address and modernize cybersecurity needs. Additionally, he brings years of experience from his tenure with AT&T where he served in a variety of leadership roles and in support of strategic infrastructure initiatives with public and private sector entities across the State of Michigan and other states. Mr. Blake combines industry experience with service in the education community as a publicly elected school board trustee and current President of the Berkley Schools Board of Education.

Merit Network was founded in 1966 to link the mainframe computers at Michigan State University, the University of Michigan, and Wayne State University, a groundbreaking achievement for its time. The organization has evolved into a high-speed data network serving Michigan’s universities, colleges, K-12 schools, libraries, state government, health care, and other nonprofit organizations. It is owned and governed by Michigan’s public universities. More at

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