Faces of UMSI: Michael Wayne Harris

When Michael Wayne Harris began teaching college courses, he discovered he was not finished with his education.

“I realized I enjoyed working with people, helping people research rather than teaching,” said Harris, now a graduate of UMSI, of his previous graduate student teaching experience. “So much of the UMSI program is learning to help others meet their information needs. I just found that to be more rewarding than teaching.”

Michael, who specialized in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Library Information Systems (LIS), recieved his diploma when he returned from India this past summer after participating in the Global Information Engagement Program (GIEP) as part of a three-person team. Michael built a web app with census data and other data available online for researchers as part of Visualizing India’s Cities through the Indian Institute for Human Settlements in Bangalore.  He interviewed potential users that selected a database based on geographic location with census data displayed on a map. “Living in a culture I don’t have experience with [was challenging] in a good way,” Michael said. “[It was] a wonderful learning experience.”

While at UMSI, Michael served as President of School of Information Master’s Association (SIMA); he helped facilitate communications between master’s students and faculty through the Ask the Dean program. “I appreciate the kind of work they’re doing – bringing SI student concerns to the administration and working cooperatively on that,” he said.

He was also President of American Library Association Student Chapter, which organizes Quasi Con, providing SI students and young professionals with a chance to interact about libraries in the digital age. “The Internet is changing libraries,” Michael said. “So much of the work that needs to be done with libraries in schools, in archives - in these more traditional educational spaces – it is going to be a challenge to negotiate what their information needs are, what their teaching needs are.”

Michael had experience with these challenges through his part-time job at U-M Library researching changes to the library’s website. He’s also worked with U-M Alumni Association to improve communications. “We researched some changes to help alumni in less populated parts of the country better interact with one another,” he said. “My favorite thing about the Alumni Association is they’re very good at what they do, but they’re still always looking to improve and expand upon their services.”

Michael has a BA in English from Yale University and an MA in English from Georgia Southern University.

“I’d like to stay in higher education so I can be in a position to support a university’s teaching and research needs,” he said of his career plans. “My LIS and HCI background puts me in a better position to help higher education or non-profits understand their own teaching needs.”