New libraries dean to take reins

One Dean Miller will leave, and another Dean Miller will start at the end of this semester.

Butler University chose Julie Miller to become the new dean of libraries when current Dean Lewis Miller retires.

“Butler excited me because it’s a place where the emphasis is on academic excellence and student success,” Julie Miller said. “Those are the things that matter to me.”

Julie Miller, associate dean of libraries at Eastern Washington University, said Butler libraries have a solid foundation through current leadership and community support.

“I really wanted the opportunity to build on success,” she said.

She said she sees Butler as a place where academic interest is a priority.

“I’m first in my family to go to college, and so, for me, education was such a transformative experience in my life,” she said. “I really want to be at places where that happens.”

The title “dean of libraries” can be abstract, but current Dean Lewis Miller said times can change.

“The dean is responsible for the vision and direction of the library,” he said. “Five years from now, the task that your staff is doing is going to be very different. How do you prepare them?”

This forward-thinking approach will be important for Julie Miller as libraries are in a transition process, said Stuart Glennan, professor of philosophy and chair of the search committee.

“We’ve had an information revolution, and libraries are right in the middle of it,” he said.

Julie Miller said she recognizes that challenge.

“Academic libraries realized they needed to reposition themselves with students because students have choices for resources, and often, the library is not at the top of that list,” she said. “If we think about what libraries will look like in the future, that has to be grounded in what faculty and students need.”

In order to understand these needs, Julie Miller said one of the first things she will do when she arrives is talk with students and faculty.

Sally Neal, associate dean of libraries and member of the search committee, said that communication will be important.

“We were looking for someone who is a good marketer,” Neal said, “to articulate to the campus what our mission and goals are, what our vision is.”

Neal and Lewis Miller both said that improvements to the library space will need to be a priority. Julie Miller said that she will work with development and advancement in many ways, such as getting more donors.

Neal also said involving librarians in instruction and digitizing more collections will be important steps for the future.

Lewis Miller said planning, personnel, the budget and organization of the library are additional concerns for the dean.

“It [the position] is considered similar to the dean of a college,” he said.

For this reason, the search process was conducted in a similar way to the searches for college deans, Glennan said.

“What that meant practically was that there was elected representation from the library faculty, and then the provost would appoint the balance of that committee,” he said.

The search for the dean of libraries began in October when the search committee wrote an advertisement for the position.

The committee then reviewed applications and conducted Skype interviews with a narrowed list of candidates. It selected three finalists, who came to campus for visits. The committee then recommended Julie Miller.

“The fact that we got who we wanted was just wonderful,” Neal said.

Julie Miller will officially begin on June 1, even though she is already getting involved in the Butler community.

“I listened to the basketball game the other night,” she said, referring to the men’s loss to Pittsburgh on March 21. “I was really sad. I’m already feeling like part of the team.”

Photo by Rachel Anderson

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