Schools of informatics, library science to merge

The Board of Trustees approved the merger of the Schools of Informatics and Computing and the School of Library and Information Science at Friday’s meeting.

The initiative will affect departments at both the IU-Bloomington and IU-Purdue University Indianapolis campuses and will be effective fall 2013, President Michael McRobbie predicted.

The single school will be named the IU School of Informatics and Computing.

“There are some quite exciting ideas around data science and network science that I think have the potential to really bring together a lot of faculty resources we have on this campus in exciting new ways that benefit both our faculty from the research prospective and our students through new degree programs and opportunities,” Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel said.

Deans Robert Schnabel of SoIC and Debora Shaw of SLIS presented the proposal to the trustees at Thursday’s meeting and spoke briefly about the benefits.

“I will say why this is a good thing in three words,” Schnabel said. “Expediency, opportunity and adaptability.”

Increasing the breadth and size while keeping the focus and emphasis on quality will keep the stature, Schnabel said.

Shaw said the two schools are inherently very close in fields of study, so merging them is like reuniting twins separated at birth.

“The study of information and computation has become more closely linked and important than ever,” McRobbie said. “Combining these two high quality, highly ranked schools will create a single unit that can compete more effectively with the best schools in the world in this area.”

McRobbie said high demand for professionals in computing and informatics, as well as for librarians, is expected to continue in the near future.

Although McRobbie, Schnabel and Shaw reported the faculty provided overwhelming support for the merger, some concerns were raised at the Sept. 4 Bloomington Faculty Council meeting.

Robert Jacobs of the Kelley School of Business cited an inherent turf war when schools are merged, and John Paolillo of SoIC said constant restructuring is often distracting.

“Deans Schnabel and Shaw are to be congratulated on developing an excellent proposal after an extensive process of discussion and consideration and in particular for obtaining such enthusiastic support for an overwhelming number of faculty,” McRobbie said.

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