UMSI founding faculty member named interim dean

At their July 16 meeting, the University of Michigan Board of Regents approved the recommendation of Provost Martha E. Pollack to appoint Thomas Finholt interim dean of the School of Information. Finholt will serve in this position during the search for a replacement for Dean Jeffrey MacKie Mason, who is leaving to become University Librarian and Chief Digital Scholarship Officer at the University of California, Berkeley. This appointment will be effective August 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016.

Professor Finholt received a B.A. degree with high honors in history from Swarthmore College in 1983 and a Ph.D. degree in social and decision sciences from Carnegie Mellon University in 1993.  Prior to completing the Ph.D. degree, he held a graduate research fellowship at the National Science Foundation (NSF) from 1985-1989. 

He joined the University of Michigan in 1991 as an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and held that appointment until 1997.  From 1997-2009, his appointments from assistant research scientist to research professor resided in the School of Information.  In 2009, he was appointed as a professor in the School of Information.  Professor Finholt served as the director of the Collaboratory for Research on Electronic Work from 1997-2010, and the director of the Center for Information Technology Integration from 2006-2008.
His service to the School of Information is reflected in his multiple administrative appointments in the school:  associate dean for research and innovation (2006-2010), senior associate dean for faculty (2010-2012), senior associate dean for academic affairs (2012-present) and acting dean (2013).

Professor Finholt’s research focuses on the energy costs of forming and maintaining social ties, the computational mediation of trust in virtual organizations, and the use of ultra-resolution collaboration environments. 

“I am pleased that Professor Finholt has agreed to serve the School of Information as interim dean,” said Provost Pollack. “He is a distinguished scholar and educator.  With his years of experience as a faculty member and his knowledge of the School of Information gained through a number of administrative appointments including acting dean, I am confident that the school will maintain its momentum during this interim period.”

“After having had the privilege of serving as acting dean in 2013, I look forward to taking up the responsibilities of this appointment,” Professor Finholt said. “The future of the School of Information has never been brighter. I anticipate working with the university leadership and our faculty, staff and students to maintain our upward trajectory while the search for a new dean is underway.”

Pending regental approval, two faculty members will assume new administrative roles. Professor Elizabeth Yakel, currently the Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Affairs, will serve as Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor Yakel's former position will be filled by Professor Paul Resnick.

Posted July 16, 2015