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Dean of Purdue University Libraries and School of Information Studies and Professor Beth McNeil

Dean of Purdue University Libraries and School of Information Studies and Professor Beth McNeil

Those of us who work in our unit at Purdue could not be more excited we have our new leader, Dean of Purdue University Libraries and School of Information Studies and Professor Beth McNeil, in place!

Formerly the dean of library services and professor at Iowa State University, Dean McNeil started July 1, and she has been in a whirlwind of meetings, email messages, activities, events, and moving preparations since. (Our unit’s administration has been in Potter 160 with the ongoing HVAC work in Stewart Center; we are set to move back to the second floor of STEW soon.)

Dean McNeil is no stranger to Purdue. Previously, she was Purdue’s associate dean for academic affairs and a professor of Purdue Libraries. Before her initial appointment at Purdue, McNeil was assistant, and then associate, dean of libraries for the University of Nebraska. She also has held positions in the libraries at Bradley University and the University of Illinois.

As we navigate our new identity as a school at Purdue, you will all be hearing more from and about Dean McNeil. But, for now, below is a short Q&A that provides a glimpse into a bit more about her.

Welcome Dean McNeil!

Q: You have been back in Indiana and at Purdue now about one month now. What are some of the things you like about being back here in the Greater Lafayette Area? What do you and your family do outside of work for fun and relaxation?

McNeil: It’s great to be back on a campus that is so alive, even in the summer. My family includes my husband, Wes, who owns a small book company, and sons Nick (14) and Eli (10). My boys are active in sports, and we spend a lot of time outside of work at various games and in other outdoor activities. They have been visiting on weekends and will join me here in a few weeks, just before the start of school in West Lafayette.

During recent weekend visits we’ve done some hiking in Happy Hollow Park (a favorite activity when we lived here before), visited some local restaurants we remember fondly (Dog ‘n Suds ranks pretty high on the boys’ list), reconnecting with former neighbors and friends, and tackled a few projects in our new home. Last Saturday, we attended many of the Apollo 50th events, including the awesome “Apollo in the Archives: Selections from the Neil A. Armstrong Papers” exhibit in Purdue Archives and Special Collections, and the late afternoon F-100 flyover. Really, a wonderful experience for the whole family. Fun fact: If you look very closely, you can find us in some of the campus photos.

Q: Why did you decide to come back to Purdue to take the helm of the Purdue Libraries and newly named “Libraries and School of Information Studies”?

McNeil: Short answer: The opportunity. Plus, I like a challenge. Having been here before, I have some knowledge of campus and people, which has been beneficial to me so far, but there have been many changes in the past four years, and I want to take advantage of being “new” as well, to be sure my eyes and ears are wide open to new possibilities. Leading the Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies is an amazing opportunity to support Purdue in educating students and producing research that will change the world. I expect it will be fun, too.

Q: What challenges ahead are the most exciting? Which are most pressing?

McNeil: The most exciting challenge is to expand our teaching in support of the new School of Information Studies. We have excellent faculty and staff ready to grow our course offerings, and my impression so far is that, collectively, we are excited about and ready for this challenge. Most pressing — for me — is to come up to speed on the many data-science-related happenings at Purdue and finding the places where we in the Libraries and School of Information Studies can contribute.

Q: Any other information you would like to impart that was not touched on in questions above?

McNeil: I am looking forward to visiting with faculty, staff, and students in the next few weeks, as I make my way around campus. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or want to share information or your opinions about the future of the Libraries and School of Information Studies.