Begin at the Beginning

by Sara Z

For starters, the email all St. Kate’s LIS students received is below. I can also say that members of the MLIS Advisory Council received pretty much the same email, which means that internal and external information sharing has been the same.

The day this email came out, it was also shared on the Library Juice Press Blog and forwarded to the email list of the Progressive Librarians Guild. From there, it went to the email lists of SRRT and the ALA Council. The two major concerns raised have been the lack of transparency in communication/involvement of faculty and students by the higher administration at St. Kate’s; and, among those with a more progressive mindset, deep concern about what the association with the business school could mean for the program’s orientation towards a business model for librarianship. For further explication, check out MLIS student Paul Lai’s thoughts on his blog.

At this point, a group of concerned students is planning to take action through an open letter to administration and a possible petition. The letter is currently being drafted, and we have not yet defined our “demands” for a petition. We are not currently affiliated with any particular official student group at St. Kate’s but are hoping for the endorsement of student groups as we make progress. We are currently in an information-gathering stage and will be meeting with the acting MLIS program director this week (note that one of the challenges we face is our MLIS dean is on personal leave). We are also working on assembling a timeline of the changes at our school in the past few years that have led to this decision.

Updates will be posted to this blog for public scrutiny and discussion. If you’re interested in helping out, please email Sara Zettervall, skzettervall (at) stkate.edu.

To: Current MLIS Students:

Two weeks ago Colleen Hegranes, Senior Vice President announced a restructuring of the St. Catherine University academic programs. The School of Professional Studies is being eliminated and the professional programs in MLIS and Education are being moved into the School of Business and Leadership under the leadership of Dean Paula King. Social Work and the graduate programs will be overseen by Dean Penelope Moyers. The decision to restructure was made after careful deliberation by the upper administration of St. Catherine University and was based on evidence compiled through ongoing annual assessment and strategic planning activities.

Although organizational change and shifts in leadership are always disconcerting, moving into the Business School has much to offer the Master of Library and Information Science Program. The School’s entrepreneurial bent, along with its focus on digital education and technology, can offer us many opportunities that a more traditionally academic organization might not afford. At the same time it is essential that we maintain our academic focus and identity–consistent with the expectations of the American Library Association and the ALA Office for Accreditation. The rigor of our teaching, the relevance of our curriculum to the LIS profession, and our compliance with ALA Standards for Accreditation cannot be called into question, as ALA will be looking at this summer’s reorganization with concern. Although our Biennial Narrative Report for AY 2011-2012 was accepted without question or revision and no subsequent report for AY 2012-2013 is required, we will be expected to file a report detailing the recent reorganization and its implications for MLIS. This report will be written collaboratively early this fall, and will be shared with our new Dean and the MLIS faculty and the MLIS Advisory Council for input before being sent to the ALA.

We were not consulted about the recent restructuring, but our role in making it work for us, the University, and the ALA cannot be underestimated. This is an opportunity for us all to look for ways to incorporate the resources and strengths of both the School of Business and Leadership and the other graduate programs on our campuses into our own high quality library and information educational programs. Dean King, in a conversation earlier today, indicated that she was pleased and proud to have had MLIS added to her portfolio. Central to this process are the creativity and dedication of our faculty, staff, and students. I know that we can all work together to make this transition an opportunity for positive change.

Deborah S. Grealy, Ph.D., Associate Dean & Program Director MLIS
St. Catherine University
2004 Randolph Ave., #4125
Coeur de Catherine 045
St. Paul, MN 55105

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