CHAMPAIGN — The leader of the top-ranked University of Illinois library and information school will step down next year to take a position at Brandeis University in Massachusetts.
John Unsworth, who became dean of the UI's Graduate School of Library and Information Science in 2003, recently accepted the position of vice provost of library and technology services and chief information officer at Brandeis, a private research university of about 5,500 students in Waltham, Mass.
Unworth's first day will be Feb. 15. He expects his last day at the UI to be sometime the week prior to his start date.
The Graduate School of Library and Information Science, or GSLIS, "is the only Number 1 ranked college of the three (UI) campuses" and the only professional library and information science program in the state system, he said. The school is the top-ranked professional program in library and information science in the country.
"It's been an honor to represent this group," Unsworth said. "The work done here by faculty and students has tremendous social value and intellectual interest. I couldn't ask for a better group of people to represent," he said.
Unsworth was recruited to the dean position at the UI from the University of Virginia where he was on the faculty of the English department and director of the Institute of Advanced Technology in the Humanities. He succeeded Linda Smith who was interim dean for two years. Prior to Smith, the GSLIS dean was Leigh Estabrook.
Unsworth said the school grew significantly under Estabrook's leadership and that growth continued while he was its dean.
When he arrived the graduate school had about 500 students; the number now stands at around 700. Much of that growth has come from the online program started under Estabrook. The number of faculty has also grown from 17 to about 25, he said. The overall enrollment of underrepresented students also has increased in recent years.
Research expenditures are up, he said, thanks to having added research administration whose staff help with grant proposals and managing projects.
And the just-completed capital campaign, held with the UI's Brilliant Futures fundraising effort, raised $15 million since around 2003. The school's target had to be raised twice, he said.
Unsworth, who said he believes change and new challenges are good, will oversee both library and information technology operations at Brandeis.
"The opportunity to oversee the combined library and IT operations on that kind of campus is really intriguing," he said.
Unsworth's research and teaching interests are scholarly communications.
Brandeis Provost Steve Goldstein said in a statement that Unsworth "impressed the search committee and the Brandeis community with his intelligence, deep expertise, collaborative approach and easy manner."
Unsworth received his bachelor's degree from Amherst College, a master's in English from Boston University and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia.
An interim dean for GSLIS is expected to be named soon, Unsworth said.
A national search for his successor will be launched as well.