September 18, 2012

University Librarian, Dean of College of Human Ecology Reappointed to Terms at Cornell

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Both the University Librarian and the Dean of the College of Human Ecology were recently reappointed to serve another term in their posts.Prof. Alan Mathios, policy analysis and management, dean of the human ecology college, said that he is most proud of two accomplishments: encouraging high levels of student participation in research and overseeing the completion of the new Human Ecology Building, which recently received LEED Platinum certification for its sustainable design.

As he prepares to lead the college for another five-year term, Mathios said one of his most important goals is to “maintain and increase, even, the level of student engagement in research with faculty.”

Mathios also emphasized the college’s “outreach mission,” saying he hopes to see “students work on … projects that take [their] research into New York State and beyond.”

Since the College of Human Ecology — along with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences — jointly runs the Cornell Cooperative Extension, which works to improve New York State communities through agriculture research, the research in these two colleges can be brought “to every part of the state,” Mathios said.

In his second term, Mathios also said he hopes to oversee the approval of a new major: public and global health sciences. The new major would be a “broad program that builds on life and social sciences”and administered through the Department of Nutritional Sciences, he said.

Mathios cited the popularity of the global health minor as a factor in the decision to create the major.

“Students [will be able to] pick electives in different areas that relate to public and global health,” Mathios said. “It’s designed to have an experiential learning component.”

Mathios said he also hopes to continue building the “cross-college collaborations that have been our signature for many years,” including the University’s forthcoming master in public policy program — a collaboration between the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs and the Department of Policy Analysis and Management –– which has yet to announce a launch date.

Additionally, Mathios said the college is expecting “significant retirements” over the next decade, but hopes to be “ahead of the game” in hiring new faculty.

Other faculty members in the college spoke highly of Mathios, expressing their support of his reappointment.

“I think he’s done a remarkable job,” said Prof. Richard Burkhauser, policy analysis. “He’s a very good internal dean; he’s conscientious and provides internal leadership and support to our department. He’s also been an outstanding fundraiser and has really risen the visibility of the college.”

Prof. Ann Lemley, fiber science and apparel design, echoed Burkhauser’s sentiments.

“I am a big fan of Dean Mathios,” Lemley said. “He is one of the best things that ever happened to the [college].”

Still, Mathios credits the support of students and faculty with his success.

“I’m just so proud to lead the College,” Mathios said. “It’s a wonderful place, the students are great and it’s an honor to work with them.”

Meanwhile, Anne Kenney, who has served as the University librarian since 2008, also said she has a number of new initiatives to work on during her second term. First and foremost, Kenney said, she hopes to work “with the staff in the library to develop the requisite skills for the 21st Century library.”

“Had I been the head librarian in 1990,” Kenney said, “all I really had to do was keep doing the good work that was being done, and it was all understood where we needed to go. Today, it’s all such a confusing and challenging landscape. I find it much more interesting.”

As information becomes increasingly digitized, the need for reorganizing Cornell’s library system has become more pressing, Kenney said. She added that some of the biggest challenges she has faced as University librarian have stemmed from the changing landscape of publishing and information storage.

“The economic models surrounding publishing … they’re not sustainable,” Kenney said. “As we move more and more into digital access to materials, we gain a lot of benefits but [have also] lost some important library rights.”

During her second term –– which will begin in July 2013 –– Kenney hopes to expand Cornell’s partnership with Columbia University’s library system and address the the tech campus’ information needs, she said.

“The idea of ‘one institution, one library’ is a 20th century construct,” Kenney said. “It’s important for Cornell to be in a network of enriched partnerships to bring in more resources that are critical for research. I’m really pleased with our ability to engage with other research libraries.”

Looking forward, Kenney also hopes to continue Cornell Library’s fundraising campaign — with the goal of bringing it to a “successful conclusion” in 2015 — and oversee renovations of the campus’ libraries. For instance, she said, she wants to see that a “new identity” is created for Uris Library.

“It’s the iconic library for the University, and it needs to be revitalized and re-imagined,” Kenney said.

Original Author: Sarah Meyers