The Launch of the SILS Alumni Inclusion and Diversity Committee

September 23, 2013

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Information and Library Science (SILS) is launching a new and exciting diversity initiative in conjunction with 2013 Homecoming activities on Nov. 9. The SILS Alumni Inclusion and Diversity Committee (SAID) brings together a dynamic and visionary alumni group whose mission is to help SILS create deeper partnerships with its African/African American, Asian/Asian American, Latina/o and American Indian alumni. Engaging these important alumni constituencies via SAID is anticipated to generate new alumni leadership roles and funding opportunities critical to SILS’ mission.

SAID members serve as trusted advisors, participating in strategic planning, fundraising and evaluating the School’s progress. The ultimate goal, as with any diversity initiative, is to build a workforce that mirrors the nation’s rainbow population; to promote mentoring and professional networking opportunities; and to further encourage personal relationship development, thereby boosting recruitment from minority communities and advancing the profession.

Gerald Holmes“I have witnessed a lot of creativity and imagination on the part of librarians to serve library patrons from a multicultural and global society,” said Gerald Holmes (MSLS '85), co-chair of SAID and reference librarian and diversity coordinator, University Libraries, UNC at Greensboro.  “I am proud of what I learned at SILS. I am very proud of the faculty, staff and students who helped to shape my library career and my work with diversity initiatives. I am now glad to have the opportunity to work, listen and give something back. As a SILS alum, I ask you to join us in giving something back.”

SILS has been engaged in a rigorous strategic planning process that helped the School reaffirm its giving priorities. Although donors will always drive the giving conversation, supporting areas that are personally meaningful to them, SILS has affirmed that student support is clearly its top priority. Carolina, America’s great public research university, must keep its focus on fundraising for student support.

As we move towards a major fund-raising effort on the University level, it is essential that SILS bolster private support to sustain its preeminence in the information professions and continue to educate superior information professionals who can translate information into knowledge. SILS is committed to preparing its graduates to be leaders in an increasingly multicultural and global society and to live and thrive in diverse and inclusive communities.

The founding members of the SAID Committee have made their marks as superior information and library professionals and have the experience and expertise that will help advise the School.

Dr. Lewis Church“In my professional and educational experiences, I have had many opportunities to work with very talented individuals that differed in terms of gender, political/religious viewpoints, sexual orientation, country of origin, ethnicity, educational backgrounds and problem-solving approaches, just to mention a few,” said Dr. Lewis Church ’10 (Ph.D.), SAID member and principal software developer at SAS. “Interacting with individuals in environments such as these, that contained much diversity and inclusion, was very rewarding for me and, hopefully, rewarding for these individuals.”

The School of Information and Library Science is preeminently ranked by U.S. News & World Report. The information professions are some of the hottest professions this century. For more information, please visit:

SILS continues to work toward meeting its goals for diversity and inclusion which are:

  • Student support. Assistantships, fellowships and scholarships will help achieve a diverse student body in all degree programs.
  • Faculty support. Professorships, opportunity funding and retention funds will further enable SILS to get and keep excellent scholars from diverse backgrounds.
  • Mentoring. A new, donor-funded mentoring program will support direct connections between alumni and current students. Such a program will help ensure SILS students continue to succeed after they graduate.
  • Research. Special funding will encourage students to pursue research on topics related to diversity and inclusion.
  • Speaker Series. Visiting speakers will engage, inspire and challenge the entire SILS community – students, alumni, faculty and friends – as well as colleagues campus-wide and even nationwide.

Creating the SAID Committee is just the beginning of a broad and concerted effort to recruit more minority students to SILS, deepen minority-alumni engagement with UNC and enhance the information professions.

“We are excited about our extraordinary alumni who make up the membership of the SAID Committee,” said Gary Marchionini, dean and Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor of SILS. “They are graciously volunteering their time and bringing enthusiasm, energy, experiences and ingenious ideas to the table. We look forward to discovering ways to enhance our relationships and involvement with our alumni and the global community.”

Members of the SAID Committee include:

  • Samira Fazel Creel ’04 (M.S.I.S.), co-chair
  • Gerald Holmes ’85 (M.S.I.S.), co-chair
  • Saianand Balu ’97 (M.S.I.S.)
  • Sayan Chakraborty ’06 (M.S.I.S.)
  • Teresa Church ’98 (M.S.L.S), ’08, (Ph.D.)
  • Lewis Church ’10 (Ph.D.)
  • Irene Owens ’95 (Ph.D.)
  • Marisa Ramirez ’05 (M.S.L.S.)
  • Mae Rodney ’86 (Ph.D.)
  • Carla Davis-Castro ’08, student representative
  • Claudia Gollop, faculty representative
  • Sandra Hughes-Hassell ’98 (Ph.D.), faculty representative

The kick-off celebration of the SAID Committee will take place Saturday, Nov. 9 in Manning Hall prior to the UNC football game. All SILS alumni are invited to attend.

To access the reception registration form and “latest info” about game time, visit:

This article is published in the Fall 2013 issue of Celebrating Carolina's Diversity, the newsletter of the Alumni Committee on Racial and Ethnic Diversity.

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