Maxwell alumna Phaedra Stewart ’91 finds it difficult to look at the world without seeing opportunities to connect with people, raise their spirits and empower them to make their lives better. A self-described serial entrepreneur (some might say a serial…
School of Information Studies Dean Raymond F. von Dran to step down from his position in August 2007
School of Information Studies Dean Raymond F. von Dran to step down from his position in August 2007March 21, 2006Amy Sloane-Garrisasloaneg@syr.edu
Raymond F. von Dran, dean of the School of Information Studies (IST) at Syracuse University since 1995, announced today that he intends to step down from his position in August 2007. He will have served as dean for 24 years at three universities. Von Dran will remain as a professor in the school.
“I promised myself I would never celebrate my 25th year as a dean,” says von Dran, who previously served as dean of the information schools at The Catholic University of America and the University of North Texas. “I feel I’ve accomplished a lot and moved the School of Information Studies forward during my 11 years as dean. Now it’s time for a new, energetic dean to take the reins and continue to build on the momentum we have created. I’m looking forward to returning to the classroom and focusing my attention on teaching and research.” Von Dran also plans to help the school create commercial spin-offs from its research and development work, and assist with fund raising.
“Ray has been a tremendous leader of an absolutely first-rate information school on the cutting edge of many fields,” says SU Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor. “I am so grateful for his long years of service and also grateful that he has positioned the school to recruit for the future leadership that will carry on his legacy. I am very gratified that he will still be on campus and I know he will continue to be actively engaged with the School of Information Studies and the University.”
Vice Chancellor and Provost Deborah A. Freund, who has roots in teaching, says she understands von Dran’s desire to return to the classroom and research labs. “Ray has been an excellent and committed dean with a true national reputation for his superb leadership,” Freund says. “While I would rather see him stay, Ialso completely understand his need to refresh his mind and soul and step out in new directions for SU. After his year on leave, I am sure he will come back with his same excellence, but will show it in different and equally fantastic ways.”
During von Dran’s tenure, the number of faculty and students in the school has nearly tripled and the school’s sponsored research has increased five-fold. All seven of the school’s research centers were launched under his leadership, and several academic degree programs–including limited residency degrees and master’s degree programs in telecommunication and network management and in information management–were instituted. The school’s success has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report, which ranked IST’s M.S. program in information management and the Ph.D. program in information science and technology second in the nation, and the library and information science program third.
The school’s growth and its programs led to an increased physical presence on campus. From a mere 7,000 square feet of space in buildings that housed other college’s programs, IST will now fill 50,000 square feet under one roof in its newly renovated Hinds Hall. “Hinds Hall allows us to function together as a community of learners and provides our students and faculty with the cutting-edge technology that will keep the school at the forefront of the information field,” von Dran says. “I’m excited about the possibilities created by this facility, and I hope it will give the new dean a solid foundation from which to build.” Von Dran was also instrumental in increasing the school’s endowment, recently helping to secure the largest gift in its 110-year history.
A founding member of the I-Schools Group–a national consortium of academic institutions focused on the relationship between information and people–von Dran has helped define a growing academic and research field in national and international circles. Through his work, he has brought acclaim to IST, which often serves as a model for other information schools to follow. “His leadership and scholarship have propelled the information field forward,” says James B. Thomas, dean of the School of Information Sciences and Technology at Penn State. “He is the soul of the information community’s commitment to interdisciplinary teaching and research–a commitment that has changed the face of IT scholarship.” Others in the information field often turn to von Dran forguidance. “He has unselfishly mentored those of us who have taken on deanships more recently,” says Ron Larsen, dean of the School of Information Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. “He has shared freely of his knowledge, experience and goodwill, and has been a leader in the development of an international community of I-School deans. Ray’s strategic vision, tactical focus, engaging personality and ever-present sense of humor make him a special colleague and friend.”
Others in the field echo those sentiments about von Dran, including alumnus and former faculty member Mike Eisenberg. “Ray’s impact on Syracuse and through Syracuse on the entire information field is extraordinary,” says Eisenberg, dean emeritus and professor at the University of Washington’s Information School. “Syracuse’s School of Information Studies has been blessed with terrific deans. They are rightly celebrated for important accomplishments. But none achieved so much so fast, and with greater impact, than Ray von Dran.” John King, dean of the School of Information at the University of Michigan, adds: “The School of Information Studies at Syracuse under Ray’s leadership has been a model for emerging I-School programs at many other universities in the past decade. I’m sorry to see him stepping down as dean. But Ray is irrepressible, and I know he’ll continue to contribute to our field for a long time to come.”
Von Dran says he plans to do just that–continue to contribute as a teacher and researcher. He says he has announced his plans now so that the University can conduct a national search and hopefully select a new dean before he completes his term in August 2007. He intends to take a year of administrative leave, during which time he plans on traveling the world with his wife, Gisela, assistant professor and director of the school’s master’s degree program in library and information science. He also has a book contract with MIT Press, and hopes to begin some commercialization projects with colleagues in the school when he returns in fall 2008.
Von Dran wrote “The National Union Catalog Experience: Implications for Network Planning” (Library of Congress, 1980), as well as numerous articles and papers on such topics as information science education, competencies for the information age, the economics of information, managing information resourcesand authority control structure in libraries. He chaired the American Society for Information Science and Technology’s Education Committee, which created the organization’s first educational standards. He has advised a score of universities on information technology systems and new information curricula. He holds a Ph.D. in information science and master’s degrees in library science and European history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and bachelor’s degrees in foreign languages and history from Seton Hall University.