Two students and three professors from Syracuse University’s iSchool were recently honored with prestigious awards from the Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE). 

Assistant Professor Dr. LaVerne Gray was awarded the Norman Horrocks Leadership Award for demonstrating outstanding leadership qualities. Assistant Professor Dr. Beth Patin received two ALISE awards for Excellence in Teaching (Early Career) and for Best Conference Paper, which she shared with Assistant Professor Jasmina Tacheva and Ph.D students Sarah Appedu and Tyler Youngman.

Patin and Youngman won ALISE’s Best Conference Paper in 2022 as well, making them the first back-to-back winners in that category in ALISE’s history, according to Patin.

Leadership award

Those chosen for the Norman Horrocks Leadership Award can only win the award once, and it is open to any ALISE member who has been with the organization for no more than seven years. 

“What this award means for me … it’s encouragement to keep doing what I’m doing,” says Gray. “It’s recognition of the fact that I took seriously my contribution to the field through leadership and service.”

Gray came to the iSchool after completing her Ph.D in the College of Communication and Information at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. 

“What really sold me on Syracuse was my campus visit, ” says Gray. “There was life in the building and a sense of a collective mission in research and teaching. People were active. They were present. And I really wanted to be part of that energy.”

Gray’s research uses Critical Race and Black Feminist perspectives to explore information location and value in marginal community spaces. She is interested in African-American historical information collectives and archival-evidence analysis.

“My greatest goal is to be able to support and make an impact on students’ lives,” says Gray.

Excellence in Teaching award

Patin was honored with ALISE’s Excellence in Teaching Award for her work in educating the next generation of library and information professionals. As part of her award, she receives a complimentary ALISE membership and registration to the annual conference.

Patin was chosen for her ability to illustrate student-centered thinking in her teaching, for her contributions to curriculum design and her forward-thinking and ability to keep up with cutting-edge issues in the profession and in teaching, including those dealing with technology and its uses in the library field.

“Most of my life I’ve been an educator, and teaching is everything to me. So to be acknowledged for excellence in teaching at a teaching conference is pretty much a dream come true for me,” says Patin. 

Her research agenda focuses on the equity of information in two research streams: crisis informatics and cultural competence. Patin is the co-founder of the Library Information Investigative Team research group. She is working on projects about epistemicide and the intersection of disability and race in youth literature. 

Patin is also a member of the advisory board on the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries.

Best Conference Paper award

Coming off their win last year for Best Conference Paper, Patin and Youngman were joined by Tacheva and Appedu for this year’s win. Their winning paper was titled, “Flashing the Hazard Lights: Interrogating Discourses of Disruptive Algorithmic Technologies in LIS Education.”

“Winning again was a total shock,” says Patin. “Getting to work and write with so many of my colleagues continues to make this work robust and meaningful. Bringing in their perspectives is certainly why we were able to win this award.”

“What makes me so happy about this best paper award is that this time Tyler led the paper,” Patin added. “As an educator, my favorite thing is watching my students grow and come into their own scholarship. It is amazing to take a step back and watch your students step up to lead.”

Youngman credits teamwork for their win and said he was fortunate to work with his colleagues.

“Our work serves as a reminder that librarians are essential; that they have been, and will continue to be, necessary,” says Youngman. “Recognizing the importance of librarians in the face of popular conversations and ethical tensions around disruptive emerging technologies, including AI tools, is imperative in our pursuit of information literacy and equity.”