I am writing to update the Library on a number of administrative changes. Prior to the appointment of a new dean, I must carefully balance decisions that support organizational effectiveness with decisions that retain the flexibility my successor will need. In general, the act of balancing these two priorities will postpone permanent or long-term commitments (again, out of deference to the next dean) while making shorter commitments to ensure we continue to function well.
One of the most important of these decisions concerns the AUL for User Services position. I appreciated the rich and engaged discussions I had late last Fall with LSSC, LCP, and EC. In those discussions, I heard several things worth repeating here. First, there was broad recognition of the high-quality work our Directors have done to help manage the Library and navigate the pandemic. Second, there was a sharp divide between those who support hiring a new AUL through a national search and those who believe that internal searches and appointments serve us best, with more individuals preferring the latter. Finally, everyone agreed that the amount of work in the User Services portfolio is too much for one person.
Of course change is a constant, and a number of changes are also factors in the decisions that I’m sharing with you. First, we’re all aware that the UGL will close in May and that one result will be expansion of our public services in the Main Library. Second, Chris Prom will soon begin a half-time and temporary appointment as Acting Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation – Humanities, Arts and Related Fields. The appointment will run through August 2023 and will require some temporary adjustment of his duties and responsibilities in the Library. Finally, obviously, the appointment of a new library dean is yet another notable change.
In light of these changes, I need to ensure that we continue to be operationally successful and that my successor has the room to shape a management team. Any administration search during my time would lock the new dean into a long-term arrangement with regard to the individuals on the leadership team and the model of appointing people. We need to ensure that the new dean is able to work with the Library to set directions. Consequently, in the interest of effectiveness and flexibility, I am focusing on creating a “bridge” for the new dean. An administrative structure lasting roughly 18 months into the dean’s term will support several possibilities, including possibly mounting national searches should the new dean choose that route.
In light of his appointment in OVCRI, Chris Prom will continue to serve 50% in the Library and will continue to play a leading role in the Library’s Digital Strategies and grants management. During his time in OVCRI, Chris will be vacating other responsibilities, which will be picked up by other members of our leadership team. Mary Laskowski will assume Chris’s responsibilities in Academic Affairs. I have also added Preservation & Conservation (Jennifer Teper) and Discovery & Delivery (Michael Norman) to Mary’s portfolio. I am adding RBML (Lynne Thomas) to Tom Teper’s area of responsibility. Finally, John Laskowski (UX and Web Strategies) will report to Sara Holder. I have extended Chris Prom’s appointment through August 2025 to provide continuity in our leadership for the new dean.
In light of her significant addition of responsibilities, I am appointing Mary Laskowski as AUL and Acting Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. In addition to these Academic Affairs responsibilities, Mary will continue to be responsible for CMS, as well as those areas of work outlined above. I have appointed Mary to this role through August 2024 to give the new dean sufficient time to get to know the current leadership team and, if desired, mount a national search.
As part of our strategy to incorporate UGL services into Main and other campus libraries, I am appointing David Ward as the Reference Librarian and Undergraduate Services Coordinator, reporting to Sara Holder, who will head the new combined unit (Teaching, Learning & Academic Support). In this role, David will work closely with other campus libraries to coordinate services to undergraduate students. David’s appointment will function similarly to a unit head, and will have a 5-year term with administrative compensation. Importantly, David will also continue to serve as Director of Library Teaching and Learning and, in this role, will continue to be a part of the administrative team. I have also extended Sara Holder’s and David Ward’s Director appointments through August 2024 to ease the new dean’s transition.
In closing, I want to thank all of the Directors and AULs for their hard work and collaborative spirit. The great success of the current administrative team, along with the very positive feedback about the individual members of the team–both in governance discussions and in performance reviews–was an important factor in my decision. I thank all of you for your patience as we navigate these transitions. I am confident that these decisions will bolster the stability of the Library during a period of change and turbulence.
Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to connect with me.
The Juanita J. and Robert E. Simpson Dean of Libraries and University Librarian