Lee Dirks (MSLS ‘93), former director for Portfolio Strategy at Microsoft who died tragically in an automobile accident along with his wife Judy Lew last August, has been selected as a 2012 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Information and Library Science (SILS) Distinguished Alumnus. The award, which was announced by SILS Alumni Association president Jill Sexton during the SILS Fall commencement ceremony on December 16th, is the highest honor bestowed on the School’s alumni.
“Lee was an alumnus who continuously made professional and personal contributions to the field and who demonstrated continued support and advocacy for SILS by serving as a member of the School’s Board of Visitors, the board of the SILS Metadata Research Center and most recently as an adjunct professor at SILS,” said Jill. “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. He was an outstanding leader in the field of data curation.”
“This summer, the information and library science community lost a great proponent of information and library science and a passionate, bigger than life spirit with a huge heart, when Lee and his wife died in a car accident in Peru. Today the SILS Alumni Association honors Lee Dirks with the Fall 2012 Distinguished Alumnus award.”
Established in 1981, the Distinguished Alumni Award is presented twice each year during the spring and fall commencement ceremonies by SILSAA. The award recognizes alumni who have demonstrated outstanding professional library or information science achievements at national, state or local levels or who have provided outstanding service to SILS or its Alumni Association.
Jill also read a special message from Tony Hey, vice president of Microsoft’s Research Connections:
“On behalf of Lee Dirks’ friends and colleagues at Microsoft, I want to thank the UNC SILS Alumni Association for recognizing Lee in this way.
“We were fortunate to have Lee as part of our team in Microsoft research for the past six years, after he had spent time working with other groups at Microsoft, including the Microsoft corporate archive and the library. As many of you knew, Lee was an inspirational collaborator and his aspirations for the university library and academic publisher communities were admirable. He was a true talent, with an infectious sense of humor, an obvious zest for living and an ability to drive innovation while making friends and partners. Lee was unfailingly kind and considerate, and he treated others with an admirable sense of respect and dignity. His efforts and his impact can serve as inspiration to all.“
A 20+ year veteran across multiple information management fields, Lee held an M.S.L.S. degree from SILS as well as a post-Master’s degree in Preservation Administration from Columbia University. In addition to past positions at Columbia and with OCLC (Preservation Resources), Lee held a variety of roles at Microsoft including the corporate archivist, corporate librarian and as a senior manager in the corporate market research organization.
Along with participating on several National Science Foundation task forces, Lee served on the SILS Board of Visitors and on the advisory boards of the SILS Metadata Research Center, the University of Washington Libraries and the UW iSchool’s Master of Science in Information Science program. He was an adjunct faculty member at SILS and at the iSchool at the University of Washington. Lee was born in Texas and raised in Louisiana. He was a true blue Tarheel fan and loved life, his family and friends and real slow-cooked barbeque.
To recommend an alumnus for the Distinguished Alumni Award, please review the nomination guidelines.
UNC's School of Information and Library Science also dedicated a book which represents a compilation of white papers written and presented by some of the world's leaders in information and library science and edited by Dr. Gary Marchionini, SILS dean and Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor and Dr. Barbara B. Moran, Louis Round Wilson Distinguished Professor. The book, which was the result of a symposium and conference held last June, is titled, Information Professionals 2050: Educational Possibilities and Pathways and includes the following dedication to Lee:
"This book is dedicated to the memory of Lee Dirks, ’93 graduate of the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Director for Portfolio Strategy at Microsoft who was killed tragically in an automobile accident in August, 2012. Lee was an energetic and enthusiastic champion and advocate of scholarly communication, data curation, digital futures and other topics that challenge all information professionals, both today and in the future."