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Syracuse University community mourns passing of Dean Raymond von Dran
Syracuse University community mourns passing of Dean Raymond von DranJuly 23, 2007SU News ServicesSUnews@syr.edu
Raymond F. von Dran, dean emeritus of Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies (iSchool), passed away this morning (July 23) in New York City.
The University community is invited to attend a remembrance vigil at 4 p.m. today at Hendricks Chapel. Information on memorial services is expected to be announced at a later date.
“It is so very difficult to fully convey my feelings of shock and sadness at Ray von Dran’s passing,” says SU Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor. “The entire SU community is mourning the loss of a remarkably vibrant and talented man who gave so much to his colleagues and students at SU and to his profession.”
Von Dran, 60, served as dean of the iSchool from 1995-2007. In March 2006, he announced his retirement as dean, which was to take effect this summer. Following a year of administrative leave, during which time he planned on traveling the world with his wife, Gisela, recently retired assistant professor and director emerita of the school’s master’s degree program in library and information science, he planned to return to the iSchool as a professor. On June 28, 2007, it was announced that Elizabeth Liddy G’77, Ph.D. ’88, Trustee Professor of Information Studies, would serve as interim dean of the iSchool, effective July 15.
“Ray’s passing is profoundly saddening first and foremost because he was such a lively and positive presence for all of us who knew him, but also because he was just beginning a new era in his life,” says Eric F. Spina, SU vice chancellor and provost. “Of course, he also will long be remembered for his visionary leadership of the School of Information Studies, having nurtured it through a period of remarkable growth both in size and international stature. The impact of his loss will be felt nationally, too, as he was a leading figure in the movement among universities to re-invent traditional schools of library and information science as “iSchools,” designed to focus attention on the pervasive influence of information systems in contemporary life.”
“Ray had a profound impact on our school and the whole new consortia of iSchools — which was his invention and is now the most powerful movement in the information field,” says Liddy. “For this we are most grateful. Beyond this, our sense of personal loss is immense. Ray was an amazing leader and mentor to all of us. Indeed, it was our honor and privilege to have Ray von Dran as the dean of the iSchool at Syracuse.”
During von Dran’s tenure, the number of faculty and students in the iSchool nearly tripled and the school’s sponsored research increased five-fold. All seven of the school’s research centers were launched under his leadership, and several academic degree programs were instituted. The school’s success under von Dran’s leadership was recognized by U.S. News & World Report, which ranked its 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. 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 brought acclaim to the iSchool, which often serves as a model for other information schools to follow. In 1980, von Dran wrote “The National Union Catalog Experience: Implications for Network Planning,” published by the Library of Congress, 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 resources and 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 advised a score of universities on information technology systems and new information curricula.
“Ray’s energy was palpable; you couldn’t help but get a boost from it,” says Jeffrey Stanton, newly appointed associate dean of research and doctoral studies. “He pulled me and all of us along toward his vision of what our school could be and what each of us could achieve as faculty members, as staff, or as students. He was truly a dean among deans, a natural leader who inspired people to use their talents and energies to improve the world.”
Prior to joining SU, von Dran served as dean of the information schools at The Catholic University of America and the University of North Texas. He received 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.
He is survived by his wife, Gisela, and daughter, Beth.
A remembrance site, where individuals can post a comment, can be found at http://ischool.syr.edu.