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Liddy Named Dean of the School of Information Studies

Elizabeth D. Liddy has been named dean of the School of Information Studies (iSchool) at Syracuse University. Vice Chancellor and Provost Eric F. Spina made the announcement Feb. 13 as the outcome of a national search. Liddy has served as interim dean since July 2007, when former dean Raymond F. von Dran stepped down from the position.


“We’re very fortunate that Liz Liddy has accepted our offer to serve as dean of the iSchool,” says Spina. “She is a first-rate scholar, teacher, entrepreneur and academic leader who would be on the short list for the deanship of any leading school of this kind. In fact, this summer when I was contacting leaders in information schools nationally about candidates for this deanship, time and again they encouraged me to look internally and recognize that Liz Liddy is a highly respected national leader.


“In Liz, then, we truly have the best there is: a visible and successful academic and someone who already knows us well,” he says. “I very much look forward to working with her to achieve the iSchool’s goals in a way that is highly integrated with the University’s ambitions.”


“Elizabeth Liddy brings an extraordinary background and distinguished career experience to the iSchool deanship,” says Mitchel B. Wallerstein, the search committee chair and dean of SU’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. “The search committee was impressed by the breadth of her vision and by her passionate commitment to advancing the interests of the iSchool, both in the United States and around the world. I have high confidence that Liz, having already demonstrated her abilities while serving as interim dean, will be able to move forward aggressively and successfully in the near term to address the challenges and needs of the iSchool.”


“I am thrilled to be selected as dean of the iSchool,” says Liddy. “I have the utmost admiration for the faculty, the administration and particularly the students. This is a truly exciting time for our school and for our University as we fulfill our mission of total engagement in finding solutions to the many information-based challenges of today.


“The iSchool has a long and impressive history of leadership in the highly competitive and expanding information field, which I am eager to have us continue. We do this daily through our classes and our research, both within the school and the broader community. Most recently, this is evidenced in our leadership role in the JPMorgan Chase partnership, where information and information technology are acknowledged to play such a significant role.”


Her first act as interim dean was to create a new associate dean position dedicated to research, reflecting its importance in the life of the iSchool. She also appointed Jeff Stanton as associate dean for research and doctoral studies, selected Robert Heckman to be associate dean for academic affairs and made other significant appointments.


These changes are already starting to have a tangible effect on the school. For example, by January 2007, the school had submitted proposals valued at $2.5 million while a year later, in January 2008, the school had submitted proposals valued at $3.9 million. Another indication: Of the 30 student posters accepted for the 2008 19-member iSchool Conference, 10 are from Syracuse iSchool students. Further, the school is taking a leading role in developing a model curriculum for ethics and social responsibility for information professionals that can be shared with peer institutions.


As the $1 billion Campaign for Syracuse University was launched this past fall, Liddy laid out the iSchool’s most ambitious fund-raising effort to date to honor former dean and mentor, the late Raymond F. von Dran. Working closely with Gisela von Dran, his widow and director emerita of the M.S. in library and information science program, and with development staff, Liddy aspires to name the Raymond F. von Dran School of Information Studies by the end of the five-year campaign.


Until her appointment as interim dean last summer, Liddy, a Trustee Professor, had served as founding director of the University’s Center for Natural Language Processing, which aims to advance the development of human-like language understanding software capabilities for government, commercial and consumer applications.


Since completing her multiple award-winning dissertation in 1988, Liddy has led 65 research projects—with the support of numerous government agencies and commercial enterprises—all based on the use of natural language processing for improved information access and analytics. She has authored more than 110 research papers, given hundreds of conference presentations on her work, and is a co-inventor on seven patents in the area of natural language processing. In addition, she was elected chair of the Association for Computing Machinery Special Interest Group of Information Retrieval (ACM-SIGIR) for 2007-09.


Among her many honors, Liddy is a recipient of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Tibbetts Award (1998); Upstate New York Technology Business Forum’s Enterprise Award for Technology (1998); Syracuse University’s Outstanding Alumni Award (2000); Post-Standard & Syracuse Federation of Women’s Clubs Achievement Award (2005); and the 12th Annual Search Engine Conference Best Paper Award (2007).


She holds a bachelor’s degree in English language and literature from Daemen College and a master of library science degree and a Ph.D. in information transfer, both from SU.

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