By JASMINE WALLACE
President Fox has appointed a search committee that will be responsible for hiring a new Vice President for Libraries and Information Technology. The committee consists of faculty, staff, students, and trustees. Ideally, the committee would like to hire someone by the early summer if things go smoothly with the search.
The committee will be co-chaired by Dr. Val Lehr, Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs, and Dr. Brian Watson, an Associate Professor of Physics. According to Watson, the creation of the new position was necessitated by several events. After staff positions in the library and IT were vacated, it became necessary to replace Thelmo. In the IT department, responsibility was divided among three Co-Chief Information Officers. However, according to Watson, “[that] was a model that was not going to be able to be maintained.”
President Fox had consultants visit campus to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the libraries and IT program. The consultants recommended that SLU combine the leadership of the two departments, and therefore the development of new position was necessary. The search committee was appointed in early March.
The faculty and staff committee consists of Dr. Robin Lock, Dr. Caroline Breashears, Cathy Tedford and Carolyn Filippi. The committee also includes three trustees: Amanda Pearson, Katy MacKay, and Marion Roach. Students Mike Riela ’13 and Iris Longo ’13 complete the group.
The committee is discussing the qualifications that they are seeking in candidates for the position. They have hired a consulting firm to aid in this decision. Watson said it needs to be somebody who understands the mission of a liberal arts college and who has a reasonable degree of familiarity with library and IT issues. Watson added that though the individual does not have to be an expert in both areas, he or she must be conversant in each. Management skills and good organizational are also necessary, since the new senior staff member will be responsible for examining and redefining some of the positions within the libraries and IT.
The current Co-CIO’s of IT are James Mattice, Rene Thatcher, and Sondra Smith, and they will aid in the transition new leadership. Additionally, the University’s Acting Librarian, Mike Alzo, has been involved in the increasing collaboration with IT that will enable the senior staff member to be integrated easily into both organizations. “I think this is going to be a very positive change,” said Alzo, who added, “bringing the two together will produce a better outcome for both organizations.”
Given the amount of technology currently utilized by students in the library, IT has already begun to work more closely with library staff. The major administrative change will build upon smaller, more subtle projects that are being implemented. “We’re actually building a better collaboration as we speak,” said Alzo, who explained that the library and IT are already improving communication even prior to the enstatement of the new administrator.
As an example, Alzo noted that seating arrangements and room availability in the library have been changed and that many power strips have been added throughout ODY to allow students more places to plug in their electronic devices. The IT Help Desk in the library provides support for research and technology-related questions. This work will integrate in to the hiring of the new Vice President of Libraries and Information Technology.