We sent this message to VP Hegranes this afternoon in advance of our meeting tomorrow.
Dear Colleen Hegranes,
At our meeting tomorrow, we would like to discuss the following topics and ask these particular questions. We hope that you can provide us with concrete answers that will help us understand how to move forward with the administrative reorganization of the MLIS program.
First, we would like to impress upon you and other decision makers in the administration the difficult position the decision to move the MLIS program into a business school places us in as future librarians. You may not be aware, but as far as we can tell, St. Kate’s MLIS program is now the only ALA-accredited program in the United States that is housed in a business school. This situation is unprecedented and bespeaks a larger concern that many of us have about the encroachment of business logic into the world of librarianship. We hope to be able to explain to you, to President Lee, and to each member of the Board of Trustees what it means for the MLIS program to be subsumed under the School of Business and Leadership. It means a challenge to the public service ethos of librarianship and our commitment to access, equality, social justice, and other such values.
Second, we are incredibly disappointed that the administration made this decision so suddenly without input from faculty, staff, or students in the affected programs and would like to register this disappointment publicly.
These are our more specific questions:
1. Who was involved in the decision? We would like to open a conversation with those who initiated the change as we move forward together.
2a. What was the reasoning for the decision? Help us understand the logic for the decision so that we can contribute to solving whatever problem was identified.
2b. How does the reorganization benefit the Higher Learning Commission reaccreditation process? Though we have been told that the reorganization benefits the HLC reaccreditation process, we would like to understand specifically how it helps. From our perspective, the tremendous amount of work the MLIS faculty will have to accomplish to realign the program with the mission and key initiatives of the program’s new home, and hopefully to participate in revising the SBL’s mission and key initiatives, is of sufficient scope to warrant much caution.
2c. How does this new administrative home for the MLIS program benefit the university’s 2020 Vision strategic plan? Again, we have been told that this new home will also contribute to the strategic plan? What aspect of the plan? We have reviewed the documents online and been unable to ascertain what detail this reorganization supports. Our conversations with faculty and staff involved in the strategic planning process for the university also suggests confusion on their part about how this reorganization helps.
3. What strategies are in place to implement this change? Are there personnel charged with making relevant changes? Funds set aside for the work to be done? What is the time frame for making particular changes such as developing new strategic plans for the SBL?
4. What do you see as the impact of this change for the MLIS program? What aspects of the reorganization will influence how the MLIS program moves forward?
5. How will the reorganization affect funding priorities for the MLIS program in relation to the other programs in SBL, especially given the new mandate to create an MBA program? We are especially worried that because the School of Business and Leadership so clearly favors business over either librarianship or education that our program will not receive the resources and attention it deserves.
We look forward to our conversation tomorrow at 2:30. Paul, Sara, and possibly Joan will be present for the meeting.
On behalf of all concerned students,
Joan Van Norman
Cc: Lori Anania, President Andrea Lee