By: Diane Stirling
Professor of Practice Kenneth Lavender is retiring from teaching at the School of Information Studies (iSchool) after nine years as a faculty member this spring. Somewhat like the last time he took the retirement plunge, though, it won’t be too long before he has signed on for another educational adventure.
Lavender will be moving to Canada to become a senior consultant for special collections at the Wilfred Laurier University library in Brantford, Ontario, a role he expects to fulfill as a half-time position. There, he will help WLU decide what to do with some of its recent donations, such as a computer games archive and a carnival museum, he said. He also anticipates working with Canada’s Six Nations native tribes on various initiatives, much like he did while at Syracuse University working in cultural preservation with the Iroquois nations in New York. In that capacity, he anticipates being part of the efforts at the Woodlands Cultural Center in Canada, helping integrate digitalization of artifacts into the history and cultural preservation efforts there.
Lavender retired the “first time,” he says, in 2001, when he left the University of North Texas. He was curator of the rare book and Texana collections, plus a librarian and Denton Professor Emeritus there. When he came to Syracuse, he initially was curator of rare books and printed materials at Bird Library. He next served as a research scientist for the Information Institute of Syracuse, working with Professor R. David Lankes at the iSchool. For two more years, he was as an assistant professor here as well as special projects librarian at the University's Special Collections Research Center. In 2006, he became a full-time professor of practice at the iSchool after being asked to develop a Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) in Cultural Heritage Preservation.
That program is the work he is most proud of, because it has “certainly drawn the attention of the iSchool across the [Syracuse University] campus.” Lavender noted how the School’s program has partnered with the University's School of Visual and Performing Arts and the Maxwell School’s anthropology and museum studies programs to educate a wide number of graduates. In addition, Lavender is also proud of the establishment of a number of internship opportunities for CAS students in this area at places such as the Erie Canal Museum, Henry Gates House, and the Onondaga County Museum, he said.
The opportunity to do something new, even in a second retirement phase, is appealing, according to Lavender. “It’s certainly going to be different. It’s a whole other chapter in a foreign country. I think the most interesting thing is that it’s something new, and it’s often hard to find new things to do – or be forced to find new things to do. It’s the idea of involving yourself in something new that you can contribute to, and it’s something more than developing a new hobby. There will be expectations, and it will be a good way of keeping me involved,” he added.
“That’s what was so interesting about developing the CAS program; it was a new spin on things.” Lavender also noted that he appreciates the welcome the iSchool has extended to the preservation discipline. “I certainly appreciate the support my program has received and how my colleagues seem to recognize its value.”