Alumni, students, friends, family, faculty, staff, and UNC administrators gathered on May 9 at the Carolina Inn to recognize the many years of exceptional service by UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS) professors Barbara Moran and Barbara Wildemuth, who will retire this summer.
“Both are distinguished scholars, beloved teachers, and effective administrators, and their concurrent retirements mark an inflection point in the history of SILS,” SILS Dean Gary Marchionini said in his welcome to guests. “At Carolina, there is a spirit of collaboration that facilitates innovation and service across the campus, and at SILS, this spirit is strongly manifested in the actions and tones of behavior that each of these professors have shown, and continue to show today. When I asked each of them about how we should commemorate their retirements, they both immediately suggested sharing a celebration rather than opting for individual events.”
Marchionini introduced Ron Strauss, Executive Vice Provost and Chief International Officer at UNC, to say a few words about Barbara Moran. Strauss recalled the electricity that she brought to the School upon her arrival and how as dean of the School, she deftly and gently guided SILS to a number of milestones. He praised Moran for her elegant and enthusiastic transition back to the role of professor and scholar following her successful deanship. He fondly recalled visiting her classes as a guest speaker and observing the strong bond she had with her students.
“You bring energy to whatever you take on, and I know this next transition will be full of growth and joy,” Strauss said. “I celebrate all you have given to this university community. You served on so many different committees and taskforces. You always found a way to say ‘yes’, always found a way to help, and for that I am eternally grateful. I wish you the very best.”
The next guest to salute Moran was Dr. Fred Roper (AB ’60 and MSLS ’62), who was associate dean at SILS when Moran joined the faculty. Roper shared how thrilled he and Dean Edward Holley were when Moran accepted the School’s offer, and remembered the important advice he shared with her when she arrived at Chapel Hill–visit human resources to make sure her salary and benefits were correct and stop by the athletic office to put her name in for basketball tickets.
“Barbara has been a valued colleague and a good friend,” Roper said. “She has demonstrated her ability as a meticulous researchers, outstanding teacher, and mentor for students. Her administrative and leadership skills were proven during two terms as dean and in many terms as wise council. Barbara listened, she guided, she sometimes followed, but she always led. We are extremely grateful to her for everything. Her legacy will live on for a long time. Barbara, I hope you enjoy retirement as much as I have because you deserve it.”
Following Roper’s comments, Dean Marchionini shared some more of his own reflections, and then introduced Evelyn Daniel, SILS Dean and Professor Emerita, to discuss the contributions of Barbara Wildemuth.
Daniel recalled that when Wildemuth arrived, the field of library science was undergoing a major shift, with information science emerging as a new and critically important discipline. She credited Wildemuth with bringing the expertise to help the School embrace this transition and maintain its top-ranked status.
“She set us on a trajectory to focus on the information user, to study their behavior, and to understand the way people take in information,” Daniel said. “She brought that central thought to the curriculum, which began to change in response.”
SILS Professor Stephanie Haas used Wildemuth’s musical background (her bachelor’s degree was in music education) to illustrate how she has drawn on people’s strengths and balanced personalities to create great ensembles. Haas cited the many leadership roles Wildemuth had taken at SILS and with ASSIST, where she organized the first student design competition and planned mentoring sessions that brought doctoral students with senior faculty. Both SILS and ASIS&T recognized her for excellence in teaching, and she received ASIS&T’s Watson Davis Award in 2010 for service to the society.
“What I really want to talk about is her mentorship of so many students and so many colleagues,” Haas said. “She organized mentoring sessions for the junior faculty and seminars for doctoral students. She advised numerous dissertations, master’s papers, and honor theses, many of them award-winning. When you read the extensive list of her publications, notice that many of them have co-authors, and frequently those co-authors are students, who are now former students out in the profession and academia. Consider her book. Most of those chapters are ensembles, co-authored with students and intended to create future ensembles, a framework for collaboration with people who are going to arrive into the profession at a later time.”
Dean Marchionini closed the formal portion of the program by presenting Moran and Wildemuth with Carolina-themed gifts they could use when they travel and by offering one more expression of thanks.
“You have each made a difference in so many individual lives, in the life of our school, and in our fields of study and practice,” Marchionini said. “We thank you for all you have done.”
Barbara Moran joined the SILS faculty in 1981 and served as dean of the School from 1990 to 1998, during which time she enhanced technical resources, added an undergraduate minor program, and increased graduate enrollment by 32 percent. She expanded the international involvement of SILS and began the very successful London and Prague summer seminars, a legacy that SILS is working to continue and expand through the Barbara B. Moran Fund for Global Programs. After her deanship concluded, Moran again became an active member of the SILS faculty and was named the inaugural Louis Round Wilson Distinguished Professor. She has written more than 85 journal articles and book chapters and co-authored Library and Information Center Management, a textbook used by library science programs worldwide that will be published in its ninth edition later this year.
Barbara Wildemuth arrived at SILS in 1988. She served as Associate Dean of Academic Affairs from 2010-2016 and was the chief architect of the SILS Bachelor of Science in Information Science (BSIS) program. She was also instrumental in shaping the Master of Science in Information Science (MSIS) program and the curricula for all of the SILS degrees. Her research focuses on people’s use of information and information technologies, with particular emphasis on people’s online searching behaviors. She is an internationally recognized scholar with thousands of citations to her papers, and information schools around the world use her book on research methods, Applications of Social Research Methods to Questions in Information and Library Science, now in its second edition.