St. Kate’s MLIS program is going under the business school

The following is an email that was sent to current MLIS students at St. Catherine’s University in St. Paul, MN, announcing a reorganization of the department so that it will now be a part of the business school. I don’t know if there is any precedent for something like that. In other places where the library school has been folded into another department, the move signaled something about interdisciplinary connections. At UCLA that library school is linked to the education department. At Rutgers it is linked to communication and media studies. In both of those cases, the reorganization felt like it may have weakened the library school, because there was a loss of autonomy based on flagging institutional support for the independent program. But at least in those cases the implications of the cross-disciplinary connection held promise and suggested interesting possibilities for collaborative work. Going under the business school suggests a full commitment to the “business model” of library management, where public service in the interest of democracy and public good is hard to justify on a cost basis. I have always felt that when libraries are just another business, there is no point to them anymore. I will be very interested to see how the MLIS program at St. Kate’s will be affected by this reorganization, and if it will manage to maintain something of the integrity of a real library school.

From: IM Dept
Date: Wed, Jul 11, 2012 at 4:18 PM
Subject: 2012 Academic Reorganization Memo to MLIS Students

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

12 comments on “St. Kate’s MLIS program is going under the business school

  1. Hi all,
    I am Paula King, dean of Business and Leadership and I would like to share how I view the changes mentioned above. I see SBL, MLIS and Education being led by me as dean, however each entity has a unique identity, history, set of opportunities and challenges, different and complex stakeholders and great faculty and students.

    For me, I think of the three entities as strong partners. Right now, as I have mentioned to Deb Grealy and Colleen Hegranes, naming is not a priority. Coming together in a welcoming manner and becoming friends/colleagues are first steps.

    Please assure your faculty that they are not subsumed under business. We are three strong siblings, to use a family metaphor. Please be in touch if you have questions.
    All the best,
    Paula King

  2. Thanks for your comments, Dean King. It’s encouraging to hear that you think of the three programs as “siblings” rather than being aspects of an overarching business school. I am still greatly troubled by the decision-making process for this change as well as what things will look like from this point on for the affected programs. I will also say that naming is of utmost importance because people looking to hire St. Kate’s MLIS grads will think of the program’s association with the School of Business and Leadership. You may not be aware of the kind of thinking in the world of librarianship and thus not realize what a liability that can be for many types of librarianship (though certainly not for all).

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