James L. Hilton returns to U-M as dean of libraries

James L. Hilton, a professor and higher education administrator nationally recognized as an advocate for collaboration between academics and technology, will return to the campus where he began his academic career as U-M’s dean of libraries and university librarian.

Hilton also was appointed as a professor, with tenure, in the School of Information. His appointments were approved Thursday by the Board of Regents and conclude an international search conducted by a 19-person search advisory committee. Several members of the UMSI community served on the committee, including informatics student Madison Goforth, PhD candidate Devan Donaldson, associate professor Barry Fishman, and UMSI dean Jeff MacKie-Mason.

“As dean of libraries and university librarian, James’ vision and leadership will be essential to our ability to address the changing nature of information acquisition and knowledge dissemination,” said Provost Martha E. Pollack in recommending Hilton for appointment. “As a tenured professor in the School of Information, he will contribute to the study and design of information access and preservation.”

"James is one of the very best leaders in information resources for higher education and scholarship,” said UMSI Dean MacKie-Mason. “He has been a transformative innovator, first at Michigan and then at Virginia. We are thrilled that he is returning to U-M. My colleagues and I couldn't be happier that he is joining the School of Information faculty, and we look forward to working together to keep Michigan at the forefront of scholarship and education in the new digital world."

“I am thrilled to be returning to U-M at a critical time in the evolution of the university library,” Hilton said. “Michigan is a leader in digital information and I am honored to join the team.”

Hilton comes to U-M from the University of Virginia, where, since 2006, he has been the vice president and chief information officer, and professor of psychology. At Virginia he has been responsible for planning and coordinating academic and administrative information technology, voice communications and network operations across the university.

He remains engaged with the library community at the national level, currently leading the creation of the Digital Preservation Network, an archival backbone designed to catch and preserve discoveries for future generations. Together with 56 Association of American Universities-caliber institutions, DPN is building a preservation structure owned by and for universities to connect and leverage a variety of large-scale preservation and access initiatives such as HathiTrust, Texas Digital Library and the Academic Preservation Trust.

Hilton received his BA degree in 1981 from the University of Texas at Austin and an MA degree and PhD from Princeton University in 1983 and 1985, respectively. He began his professional career at U-M in 1985 as an assistant professor of psychology and a faculty associate in the Research Center for Group Dynamics in the Institute for Social Research. He was promoted to associate professor in psychology, with tenure, in 1991 and to professor in 1999. In 1997 he was awarded the Arthur F. Thurnau Professorship.

Administratively, from 1991 to 2000 Hilton served as undergraduate chair in the Department of Psychology. From 1999 to 2000 he served as the special assistant to the provost for media rights, and from 2001 to 2006 he served as associate provost for academic, information, and instructional technology affairs. During the 2005-2006 academic year, he was interim university librarian.

While at U-M, Hilton won numerous awards and fellowships such as the Master Lecturer Award from the Michigan Psychological Association in 1989, the Class of 1923 Memorial Teaching Award in 1991, and the LSA Excellence in Education Award in 1992, 1994 and 1995. From 1997-1998 he was a Sweetland Writing Center Fellow, as well as a participant in the Committee on Institutional Cooperation Academic Leadership Program as a fellow.

His appointments are for five years, starting Sept. 1. He will succeed Paul Courant who is stepping down after serving as dean of libraries and university librarian since 2007.

Update: On June 20, 2013 the president and provost appointed Hilton to an additional concurrent position as vice provost for digital education initiatives, effective July 1. According to provost Martha E. Pollack, "The vice provost for digital educational initiatives is a new position that will focus on ensuring that the University takes a leadership position in the rapidly changing field of education technology, deploying it in ways that preserve and enhance our traditional strengths in teaching and learning. The scope of work will include educational technology that enhances the effectiveness and efficiency of on-campus teaching, as well as educational technology that expands the university’s outreach to new audiences."

Posted on Thursday, May 16, 2013