The Graduate School of Library and Information Studies Celebrates Forty Years at The University of Rhode Island.
Presentation: 40 Years of GSLIS History (Images)
The University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Library and Information Studies (GSLIS) offers a MLIS program that is fully accredited by the American Library Association. Its school library media specialist certification is also accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). The University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Library and Information Studies (GSLIS) graduated its first class of about 20 students in 1965. When it celebrated the 40th anniversary of this milestone in spring 2005, the school had graduated almost 3,000 students who have become leading librarians and information specialists throughout the nation.
Jonathan Ashton was appointed as the School's first dean in 1963. The School classes were taught at the extension campus in Providence before moving to the main campus in Kingston, Rhode Island in 1969. Since its inception, a primary goal of GSLIS has been to provide an American Library Association-accredited program to the citizens of the New England states. The School therefore offers regional tuition rates to residents of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont. In addition to URI's Kingston and Providence campuses, courses for the program are now offered at Worcester State College in Worcester, Mass. and at the University of New Hampshire, Durham campus.
Since its inception, a primary goal of the Graduate School of Library and Information Studies (GSLIS) at the University of Rhode Island (URI) has been to provide an ALA accredited program to the citizens of the New England states. Discussions regarding the need for a library school at one of the state universities began between the presidents of the New England Land Grant Universities in the late 1950's. The Presidents of the New England Land Grant Universities agreed that URI was the logical site for a library science program in New England. It was also agreed that the school would be placed under the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) compact. Under the compact at that time, students from New England states would be allowed to take courses at URI and pay in-state tuition and fees.
In March of 1961 President Frances H. Horn recommended to the Board of Trustees of State Colleges in Rhode Island that the Graduate Library School (GLS) be established. In October of 1962 the Board of Trustees voted to establish the School, effective July 1, 1963, with students to begin enrolling in the fall term of 1963.
Jonathan Ashton was appointed as the first Dean of GLS in 1963. He was charged with fulfilling the administrative duties as well as teaching classes. Dean Ashton and three adjunct faculty members taught library science courses during the 1963-64 academic year. The School was housed and the classes were taught at the extension campus in Providence.
E. J. Humeston, Jr. was appointed Dean in the summer of 1964 following the resignation of Dean Ashton. After having received the approval of the necessary bodies of the University, a full-time program was begun in September of 1964. Three full-time faculty members were also appointed at this time.
GLS moved to the Kingston campus in June of 1969. Registration for classes under the NEBHE compact officially began in the fall of 1970. The Committee on Accreditation (COA) of the American Library Association accredited the School for the five years in June of 1971.
Dean Humeston retired in 1976 and Nancy Potter, Professor of English, served as Acting Dean for one year. In 1977 Bernard Schlessinger assumed the position of Dean. The School's offices and main classrooms were moved to Rodman Hall in the spring of 1978. ALA accreditation was again awarded in January of 1979.
Upon the resignation of Dean Schlesinger in 1983, Lucy Salvatore began a term as Acting Dean. The name of the School was changed to the Graduate School of Library and Information Studies (GSLIS) in 1983 to reflect the inclusion of information science in the curriculum.
As early as 1982 both Dean Schlessinger and the Vice-President for Academic Affairs had suggested that GSLIS should be repositioned within a larger unit of the university. They felt that GSLIS, the smallest school at URI, had become somewhat isolated and were it to be positioned within one of the colleges; GSLIS would have greater exposure and involvement within the greater university community. Various options were discussed, but the College of Arts and Sciences surfaced as the best place. In July 1985 GSLIS maintained its name, but became a department in the College of Arts and Sciences. The position of Dean of GSLIS was changed to that of a Director.
There was also discussion to discontinue GSLIS by the administration at URI in the mid-1980s. However, because of very strong support from the library community in both Rhode Island and the New England region, the administration decided to maintain the program and pursue accreditation. A COA visiting team visited the campus in September of 1985.
Elizabeth Futas was hired as the Director of GSLIS in January of 1986. Over the following two years Director Futas: fostered improvement in the School through curricular changes, scheduling changes, and better administrative procedures. She argued for and received permission to fill vacant faculty positions, increased the School's holding of computer hardware and software, and oversaw renovations to the School's facilities. (Tryon, 1996).
She and her colleagues on the faculty became involved in the library communities in Rhode Island and the other New England states. She was a strong advocate for libraries and librarianship throughout the region and incorporated the concerns of practitioners into her vision for the School. ALA again accredited GSLIS in July 1988.
Upon the untimely death of Director Futas in February of 1995, Fay Zipkowitiz served as Interim Director until September 1995 when Jonathan Tryon was appointed Director for the next three years. ALA accreditation was again awarded in June of 1996.
Professor Tryon stepped down as Director at the completion of his three-year term and C. Herbert Carson served as Interim Director from June until December of 1998. Michael Havener became the Director in January of 1999 as the result of a national search. ALA accreditation was again awarded in June of 2000. Professor Gale Eaton assumed the role of Director in July of 2006 when Professor Havener resigned to return to the classroom.
Distance education has been an important and integral part of the program at GSLIS as mandated by the NEBHE compact. Courses were first offered outside of Rhode Island during the 1967-68 academic year when classes were taught in Hartford, Connecticut. This marked the beginning of the "regional" program in that URI courses were being taught outside of Rhode Island within the New England region.
The regional program was expanded to include courses offered at the University of Connecticut at Storrs and at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in the fall of 1970. Classes began to be offered at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) in Durham in the fall of 1973.
Patricia Jensen was appointed to coordinate the regional program and the school library media program in January of 1978. Courses were first offered at the Harbor Campus of the University of Massachusetts at Boston in the fall semester of 1983. Upon the approval of the Massachusetts Board of Regents for Higher Education, the regional program in Boston officially began in the fall of 1984.
Walter A. Crocker, Jr. was appointed Dean of the College of Continuing Education (CCE) in Providence in 1984. Under Dean Crocker CCE managed to amass and allocate resources in an entrepreneurial way that served GSLIS very well in its regional program. Regional courses are coordinated through the Director of Special Programs and the working relationship with the Office of Special Programs has been outstanding over the years.
Professor Jensen retired from the faculty in December1991. Fay Zipkowitz became the coordinator of the regional program with the new title of Assistant to the Director for Regional Studies and Cheryl McCarthy became the coordinator of the school library media program. When Professor Zipkowitz retired in December 1996, Professor Carson became the Assistant to the Director for Regional Studies and Coordinator of Distance Learning. He maintained the position until the fall of 2004 when E. Gale Eaton assumed it.
GSLIS began offering courses in Worcester, MA in the spring semester of 2002. The Worcester location seemed ideal since it is central in Massachusetts and New England. Course offerings have been expanded at this location because of its convenient location for many students in the regional program.
Over the years enrollments have dropped at regional campuses so courses have been discontinued at these locations. Courses were discontinued at the Storrs campus beginning in the fall of 1986 and at Boston in the spring of 2003. Offerings will no longer be available in Amherst in the fall of 2005.
Cooperation from the libraries and the continuing education divisions at all of the campuses has allowed GSLIS to offer courses of comparable quality to those being taught in Rhode Island. Meetings are held in the fall and spring semesters that include both full-time and adjunct faculty members. These "meetings often feature guest speakers and workshops such as adult learning, assigning grades, or integrating research into the classroom." (Tryon, 1996)
The GSLIS recognized the need for more adequate information technologies in the mid-1980s. Professor Leena Siitonen created a computer lab for GSLIS in Rodman Hall to help meet these needs. She maintained the facility until 1991 when Professor Carson assumed its operation. In the fall of 1998 a computer lab maintained by the University computer staff with aid from GSLIS graduate assistants was opened for GSLIS student only in the University Library.
Until the mid-1990s, the GSLIS faculty accomplished distance education by traveling by automobile or train to teach the classes at other campuses in the New England region. In the fall of 1996 Professor Eaton first offered a course via a combination of face-to-face classes and email to students at the UNH.
Professor McCarthy taught a course using two-way vide between the Providence campus and the University of Massachusetts in Boston. All classes for this course originated in Providence except the first class, one in the middle of the semester and one at the end in which she traveled to Boston. When Professor McCarthy was at one campus, a Graduate Assistant and a former student in the course, was present at the other campus to provide technical support and aid students. This technology was used to offer classes between Rhode Island and the three regional campuses between 1998 and 2001.
The faculty of GSLIS has expanded the use of new technologies to provide more flexibility for regional students in earning their MLIS degrees and for providing continuing education for professionals in the library and information services. A variety of media including technologies such as WebCT (an online based tool for authoring, delivery and management of courses), the Internet, two-way video, and others as they become available are being used by the GSLIS to offer courses throughout the New England region. The traditional format of traveling to regional centers will continue to be used to offer courses also.
WebCT is used to offer courses asynchronously so students throughout the region or the world have access to courses that lend themselves to this format. Most of the full-time faculty and several of the adjunct faculty have offered courses via WebCT. It has been used as the primary delivery method in many courses and as a supplement to courses taught in other formats.
In Dr. Havener's time as director he worked with Winifred Brownell, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, in increasing the GSLIS's ability to meet its goals by adding staff support and expanding the faculty. The combination of increased personnel, availability of new technologies, and unprecedented support from the University's administration, GSLIS plans to expand its program to the New England region using distance education.
Tryon, J.S. (1996). Program Presentation for ALA Accreditation. Kingston, RI: School of Library and Information Studies, University of Rhode Island.