Letter From the Dean

headshot of Dean Athena N. Jackson

Athena N. Jackson
Dean of Libraries and Elizabeth D. Rockwell Chair

The last time I checked in with you, I was wrapping up my first 100 days and enjoying the onboarding of this incredible journey I have begun with UH Libraries. Now, nearly eight months into my role, I am happy to report that my impression of the talented team we have, as well as the critical resources and services, and physical and online spaces we offer our academic and community visitors every day, remains entirely intact. This is a terrific place to work! We’ve had great successes in funding our services, as well as continual enhancement to our collections. As you will find in this newsletter, we also offered a bittersweet goodbye to associate dean John Lehner, and as many have said to me, the place will not be the same without him.

As we have been looking at our Libraries with respect to the bold and inspiring University strategic plan, I am happy to share some news about what changes have taken place here. Foremost, we underwent a substantive restructuring of our Libraries toward a goal of advancing research and learning through a focus on maintaining our strong educational impact. We endeavor to do this work while enhancing our role in accelerating the research mission of UH. Our teams have been calibrated toward this vision in responsive ways to our University’s trajectory, and I am indebted to all of my colleagues’ insight, suggestions, and willingness to move forward with our new collective approaches.

While many of our departments have seen direct changes, all of them have evolved in the ways we interact with our constituents for the best outcomes. Through the generosity of Provost Short, I will soon be launching a national search for an associate dean for Research and Student Engagement. This role is part of a four associate dean structure comprising associate deans for: Special Libraries and Preservation; Collections Strategies and Discovery; and Organizational Development, Learning, and Talent. Christina Gola has assumed the latter position, Marilyn Myers will be helming the Special Libraries and Preservation portfolio, and the Collections Strategies and Discovery position will be filled in the next one to 2 years and is currently being interim led by Kerry Creelman. I can imagine visualizing all of this change may be a bit cumbersome, so I would encourage you to visit our website and review our new organizational charts.

Why am I including this administrative update in our newsletter to you? I want to emphasize that what we present in terms of our accomplishments, or how to invest in and partner with us, or how we tell the story of our impact rests solely on the ways we encourage our teams to connect and identify with this grand University vision that will undoubtedly reap beneficial results in the future. I am excited for what’s to come for all of my colleagues in the Libraries. And, I look forward to sharing with you in future newsletters the ways in which all of these updates directly reflect what is critical to our students and inspirational to our biggest champions – you.