New associate dean for UMSI announced

Professor of Information Elizabeth Yakel will step up to become associate dean for research and faculty affairs at the School of Information on July 1, pending Board of Regents approval.

“I am excited about the new position, and look forward to working with the school's leadership to keep up the strong momentum at UMSI,” Yakel said. She previously served as acting associate dean for academic affairs in 2013.

Yakel joined UMSI in 2000 as an assistant professor. Her research has focused on digital repositories and archival materials, including trust in repositories and how they can best be structured for use and reuse of the data they contain. Currently she is examining archival and data reuse issues related to quantitative social scientists, archaeologists, and zoologists ( A paper stemming from that research took the best paper prize at the 2012 International Digital Curation Centre conference. Yakel and colleague David Wallace also founded the Preservation and Access Virtual Education Lab (PAVEL) in September 2013 (

Yakel will succeed Associate Dean for Research and Innovation Douglas Van Houweling, a 2014 Internet Hall of Fame inductee and past CEO of Internet2. Van Houweling said he made the difficult choice to focus on his own research, but that his term has been extremely rewarding.

“I think this is the best job in the school – of course, I’m biased,” he said. “What makes this place so exciting is the novelty and the interdisciplinary nature of the research. As the research dean, you get to know what’s going on. You get to talk to people and to help them get things accomplished. We have the best research support staff in any college at the university. I have some mixed feelings, giving it up – but I wanted to have time to really focus on my research.”

Van Houweling will use his continuing appointment as a professor of information to focus on two key research areas, he said: a National Science Foundation study on the origins of the modern Internet, especially the period from 1980-1996; and an MCubed-funded study on if and how a national infrastructure might be created to support the networking of sensors for scientific research.

His oversight of computing strategy within the school will become the responsibility of the school’s chief information officer, a new position that has not yet been filled.

“I’ve successfully convinced Doug not to retire from this position before, but he managed to talk us into it this year, primarily because we had such a talented candidate waiting in the wings,” Dean Jeffrey MacKie-Mason said. “We’ve relied on Doug’s wisdom, experience and cool head to lead the school in the crucial areas of research and computing. Beth Yakel will have a high bar to reach – and we’re confident she’ll lead us into whole new realms of success.”

Posted on May 16, 2014