Letter from the Dean

headshot of Dean Athena Jackson

Athena Jackson
Dean of Libraries and Elizabeth D. Rockwell Chair

I am so pleased to join University of Houston Libraries as your new dean and Elizabeth D. Rockwell chair. I’d like to thank all of you who support the Libraries, and I look forward to getting to know more about you and how you engage with our team, spaces, and services.

I was born in Galveston and grew up in Fort Bend County. The greater Houston area is my home and was my educational formative space. As an alumna of UH and native of the Houston region, I have a deep commitment to the advancement and success of the University within this vibrant city and on a national level. Previously, I served as director of University of California, Los Angeles Library Special Collections and have worked in academic libraries across the country. My return to Houston has revealed a city and institution that continues to grow as a font of diversity, innovation, and achievement. UH has strengthened its ties to the communities, built a thriving scholarship and learning enterprise, and remains committed to student success and research excellence.

I’ve spent my first 100 days at UH Libraries getting to know the team in half-hour 1-on-1 acquainting chats, meeting with my peer deans, talking with many others across the University, and learning more about the Libraries and those we serve, on-campus and in the community. As I continue my listening tour, much of my time will be dedicated to setting goals and a strategy for the Libraries that are meaningful to the many audiences with whom I engage and work. I believe effective communication is paramount to creating new partnerships and strengthening existing ones. I am a collaborator by nature and advocate for mutual benefits for the Libraries and our varied and talented partners.

UH Libraries serves scholarship and learning daily. The talent and focus of our team toward increasing research at UH and enhancing student success was apparent the moment I arrived, and I will continue to nurture these values. I care deeply about the mission of the institution, research priorities, and student achievement. Each day, I continue to be inspired by this important work and the commitment all of my colleagues in the Libraries have in moving this mission forward.

This year, it’s all about learning what’s current, what’s attainable, and what’s aspirational, viewed through the lens of the new University strategic plan, Together, We Rise. Together, We Soar. I aim to form intentional connections across the UH community and within the Houston area that support our initiatives to develop transformative services for our stakeholders, particularly with diversity, equity, and inclusion approaches to how we work, how we preserve, how we share, and how we teach and assist others at the forefront. This is significant more so considering the social, health, and economic challenges the world has faced recently. What excites me most is how the entire institution is also dedicated to facing these challenges together.

On behalf of the Libraries, thank you for your partnership. I wish you all a happy and safe summer.

Go Coogs!