Accident claims the life of SILS alumnus and Board of Visitor member, Lee Dirks and his wife Judy

August 30, 2012

A fatal automobile accident in Peru has claimed the lives of SILS alumnus, adjunct instructor and Board of Visitors member, Lee Dirks (MSLS '90) and his wife Judy Lew on Tuesday, August 28, 2012. According to news reports, the couple were on their way to visit pre-Columbian ruins in Calca while vacationing in Peru when the car in which they were riding left the road resulting in a 1,311 foot drop into a ravine.

Dirks was a great supporter of SILS and the iSchool movement, serving on various iSchool boards including SILS Board of Visitors and the board of the SILS Metadata Research Center. He had recently agreed to serve as an adjunct instructor at SILS. He was the Director for Portfolio Strategy in Microsoft Research Connections, the team within Microsoft Research responsible for working closely with academia and research organizations to help solve some of the world's most challenging scientific and social problems via collaborative research projects.and a leader in the field of data curation.

"Our hearts and prayers go out to their daughters and to Lee's and Judy's families," said Dr. Gary Marchionini, dean and Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor.  "Lee was one of our greatest champions and a leading figure in data curation and the i-School movement."

A Web site has been created where additional information about the couple. There is a section on the site where you may leave your favorite memory.  Please visit:

The family is planning a public memorial service for Lee and Judy on the afternoon of Saturday, September 15th, 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. The service will take place at:

The Center for Spiritual Living
5801 Sand Point Way NE
Seattle WA 98105

There is on-site parking available for 400. If you know of people who may be travelling here from out of town, please let them know that hotel recommendations in the area will be posted to the Lee and Judy WordPress site shortly. 

The family has set up a financial support fund for those wishing to make a donation. Information on the fund is available here. Please note that the Center for Spiritual Living is not equipped to receive flowers. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Esmé and Lila Dirks Memorial Support Fund.

The Coalition for Networked Information has also included a tribute on their Web site at:

Dirks visited Chapel Hill when he could and on April 13, 2010 he was our keynote speaker and  presented,  "The Next Generation Scholarly Communication Ecosystem: Implications for Librarians" at the fifth annual OCLC/Frederick G. Kilgour Lecture in Information and Library Science on the UNC at Chapel Hill campus.

He shared his insights with the crowd in the auditorium of the Frank Porter Graham Student Union. The video from the event is available on UNC at Chapel Hill's YouTube channel.

While visiting campus, Dirks met with students, faculty and staff. He also made a special presentation on "Transforming Scholarly Communication" to the University's Scholarly Communication Group and the SILS Metadata Research Center.