The new year has been filled with sadness, joy, and outrage. It was a pivotal month for SLIS and the country, and demonstrated in the most profound way how connected SLIS is as a community.
The Passing of Robert Williams
The month began with the sad news of the passing of “Dr. Bob” Williams. It was clear from the outpouring of remembrances from faculty, alumni, and staff that Dr. Bob’s legacy will be long lived and celebrated. You can read more about this outstanding gentleman scholar here: http://www.sc.edu/study/colleges_schools/cic/library_and_information_science/news/2017/in_memoriam_dr._robert_v_williams.php#.WJDOjrGZMUE
ALISE and Awards
It is perhaps fitting as we were remembering Bob and mourning his loss that we celebrated the school we have become with his help. SLIS had an outstanding presence at this year’s ALISE conference. We had panels and presentations from faculty and doctoral students including Karen Miller, Cantrell Johnson, Heather Moorefield-Lang, Amir Karami, Feili Tu-Keefner, Clayton Copeland, Hassan Zamir, Susan Rathbun-Grubb, Margaret (Sullivan) Zimmerman, and Darin Freeburg. The highlight of the event was Margaret Zimmerman winning the doctoral poster award, and April Dawkins finishing in the top ten posters.
After ALISE we resumed the task of expanding the faculty ranks for our instructor and two tenure-track positions. There is an air of excitement as we see the folks who want to join the work here at SLIS.
We have also continued the work of the school. We have re-tasked our committee on Distributed Learning to the Instructional Quality Committee. This committee will review student evaluations and ongoing data to ensure we are constantly working on doing better instruction and do so in an open and transparent way. The committee will also work to ensure any new adjunct faculty have adequate preparation and support to teach online.
SLIS and the Executive Order
And then January held another surprise. With an Executive Order, the federal government began turning away immigrants and legal aliens from several middle eastern countries from our borders. This action has direct impact on current SLIS students, faculty, and alumni. While the University has been responsive in working with affected community members, it is still an area of grave concern.
I am including here a message I shared with our faculty and students last Saturday night and the information sent out by the university for those who have additional questions or concern:
This evening it has become clear that we all have reason to be concerned for those who are at the University, and frankly, in the country legally from abroad. Our classmates, our faculty, our alumni, our staff have seen families divided and immigrants turned away from our borders or held in our airports. Like many of you, I have followed growing legal protests across the country, and welcomed a judicial stay of an executive order whose very legality has been called into question.
Below you will see that University officials have provided some guidance and means of expressing concern. Please, however, do not hesitate to contact me directly. The well-being of our community members is my foremost concern and highest priority. I know that concern is shared by the Dean and all the staff and faculty.
I am saddened beyond belief that any university official has to advise those with legal standing to “not leave the country.” The heart of academia is the free flow of ideas. Ideas know no borders. A search for truth, and a quest to improve society through knowledge should never be threatened by executive order, or legislation. The freedom to teach and learn without the fear of deportation or xenophobia is not a partisan issue; it is not about being liberal or conservative; it is about human rights.
Every day in our classes people of all faiths and religions -Muslim, Jew, Christian, Atheist- learn side by side. Americans, Iranians, Brazilians, Chinese, Indians, Germans, Ugandans have shaped the prosperity of this school, university, and nation. Our graduates build communities in libraries and institutions across the world. We teach all of our students the core values of intellectual honesty, equity, and respect for diversity. We must now demonstrate these values. We have long called libraries havens and must now put truth to these words.
So let me end by asking again to those of you affected by these actions to let me, the faculty, and the staff know how we can help you. You are members of our community, and we are all richer for it.
-David Lankes, Director of the University of South Carolina School of Library and Information Science
Below you will find the message sent on behalf of Vice Provost Miller to all students from the affected countries in the recent executive order. Further messaging will be sent when we have more information in the upcoming week.
Thank you so much for your commitment to our students at the University.
Director | firstname.lastname@example.org
International Student Services | University of South Carolina
Close Hipp 650 | 803-777-7461 | www.sc.edu/internationalservices
From: PRITT, JODY
Sent: Saturday, January 28, 2017 7:41 PM
Subject: Sent on Behalf of Vice Provost and Director of Global Carolina, Dr. Allen Miller
As you may know, yesterday President Trump signed an executive order titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” The order suspends entry into the United States by most visa holders from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. We understand that for many of you this executive order may be unsettling and that you may be worried about your future at USC. As the Vice Provost for Global Carolina, I would personally like to assure you that the University of South Carolina remains committed to your safety, security and success regardless of your religion, ethnicity or national origin.
The executive order is aimed at new entries into the United States, those not yet in the country, and we believe nothing in this executive order will compel you to leave before the expiration of your status. However, we would advise you to not leave the country in the short term in case the executive order creates issues with re-entry. We will provide additional information and guidance soon.
In the meantime, if you have specific questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact Jody Pritt, Director of International Student Services at email@example.com .
Paul Allen Miller
Vice Provost and Director of Global Carolina
Carolina Distinguished Professor of Classics and Comparative Literature
University of South Carolina
So there was a taste of January. As always, we are looking for your thoughts, feedback, and ideas. Our quest to improve society continues.