Ron Scrogham takes over as interim dean of the library as search for permanent dean begins

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On Oct. 1, Ron Scrogham became the interim dean of the Cowan-Blakely Memorial Library at the University of Dallas. Scrogham received his undergraduate degree from St. John’s College, a Great Books school in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He then went on to earn two Master’s degrees, one in French from the University of Kansas and one in Library Science from Emporia State University. 

“He is, in terms of the breadth and depth of his CV and experience, the most qualified among the current librarians,” said Dr. John Norris, associate provost.

Scrogham has enjoyed visiting libraries since childhood. He explained, “Obviously finding books was my first attraction, but professionally I’ve enjoyed libraries because it’s a service institution.” 

Scrogham’s wife, Dr. Christina Ivers, a Spanish professor in the department of modern languages, began teaching at the University of Dallas in the 2019-20 academic year. Scrogham then joined university staff as an adjunct French professor. 

“On the practical level it was because of my wife’s appointment, but quite apart from that, the appeal for those books, the Core, resonated with the way I was educated as an undergraduate. The close, productive, engaging relationships between faculty and students were attractive to me as well. There’s little doubt that UD professors are committed to the well-being of their students,” he said. 

Although he began as a French professor, the library caught Scrogham’s eye. “I very quickly wanted to explore the possibility of coming to work in the library itself and fortunately a position opened up in March 2020,” he said. Scrogham took on the role of Reference Librarian, a position he held until his appointment as interim dean. 

Currently, the library is short-staffed, presenting a challenge for Scrogham in his new position. Although the library recently hired a new cataloger, Scrogham said: “We are looking for another cataloger and also a Reference Librarian as well. Due to people relocating and taking positions at other institutions recently, we are shorter-staffed than we would normally hope to be.” 

Scrogham spoke positively of the current library faculty and student-workers. “We are open over 90 hours a week, seven days a week and that takes a lot of staff. We couldn’t do it without our student-workers,” he said. 

As interim dean, Scrogham has several goals. “My primary focus is to fill these positions, to continue to provide services, to stabilize the library in this time of transition, and to meet some administrative requirements in terms of accreditation and grant management,” he said. 

Norris explained that Scrogham’s predecessor, Cherie Hohertz, originally started as the Director of the Library, but during her time at UD, the position was changed to Dean of the Library.  Hohertz now works with AACSB for the Gupta College of Business and the undergraduate SACSCOC, as well as managing a number of other projects for the Provost’s Office.

The library is divided into several departments: acquisitions, circulation, cataloging, reference, interlibrary loans and archives. 

“The Dean tries to make it possible,” Scrogham said: “that all these people working in all these other departments are able to do their jobs. He is the sort of systems manager of the library. Apart from just what happens within the library, he is also responsible to the University as a whole.” The Dean of the Library contributes to the Faculty Senate, the Council of Deans and Chairs and the University Council. 

Dr. Charles Sullivan, an associate professor in the department of history, has recently been selected as the chair of the search committee established to find a permanent dean. The committee consists of a broad range of faculty members who will be looking for candidates within the university and external to it. 

Explaining where the university will post job listings, Norris said, “We will publish in areas that are national and international. For any position that we hire for, we consider that coming to work at UD is a chance to work at a top-notch institution.” 

The committee has not decided on exactly what qualities they are looking for in a candidate, but Sullivan expressed what he believed to be a general consensus: “I think it’d be fair to say that we’re looking for somebody who’s mission-appropriate to the university.” 
Although the search has just begun, Sullivan said, “If there is a sufficient pool of candidates, I see no problem with having a new Dean in place by July.” This echoes the hopes of Norris, who said, “The hope would be that we would be able to bring candidates on campus sometime in the spring and have someone be able to be the new dean by summer, but that all depends upon how the search process goes.”

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