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Dean, dean of libraries, associate deans, network, alliances, university culture


Serving as an interim administrator is never an easy thing to do. Walking into an interim administrator position when it is not in your area of expertise… well, that is just crazy. Or is it? A University of Arkansas practice is to fill vacant dean positions with an interim leader who is a current sitting dean from another college. When our former dean announced his departure, the university appointed the dean of the Honors College to serve as interim dean of libraries. For the senior library leadership group, all relatively new associate deans from other academic organizations, this practice at first seemed a bit bizarre.

Many libraries struggle with maintaining organizational momentum on key initiatives in the vacuum of interim leadership. How would this work with someone whose field of expertise was so unrelated? As we quickly learned, having an experienced administrator with already established campus relationships to advise us became an immediate asset for the libraries. A neutral advocate at the table for campus decisions meant more exposure for the libraries, more access to decision-makers, and greater opportunities to build and advance our core programs and services across campus with key stakeholders. This relationship is also not one-sided, as our new double dean was very candid about what she saw as an investment in a long-term relationship between her home college and the libraries. This chapter will explore, from the perspectives of two associate deans and the interim dean, what those advantages were and why this arrangement served academic libraries well.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License