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Students (and a few alums) speak out about School of Informatics dissolution June 30, 2006

Posted by jennimi in Informatics, Library School, Web 2.0.

Just got back from a podcast session hosted by Jim Milles about UB’s decision to dismantle the School of Informatics. 19 current students and recent alums were present (an excellent turnout for summer session!). While the majority represented the MLS program (which is slated to be placed under the auspices of the Graduate School of Education) Communication and Informatics students were also present. COM apparently will go back into College of Arts and Sciences while the fate of Informatics degrees (MA, and the newly announced BA) remains to be seen.

After minor edits the podcast will hopefully air airs tonight at Check This Out! Link is here, episode 33, check it out! Anyone who could not make it today but who’d like to contribute may leave a message on Jim’s skype “jmilles” or comment line at (716) 989-4422. Jim will be putting together a supplemental podcast. I’ll put a direct link here when it goes online.

Several other folks have been blogging about this and to recap:

I’ll be sure to update this post as I find more, but first a few quick personal observations, questions and thoughts:

  • After a brief recap of the mainstream press on this affair (UB Reporter article, Buffalo News) we discussed how we’d heard the news. Shocking that many of us read it in the paper or heard from a friend or coworker at UB. A recurring theme today: the dissemination of information to students has been poor. I’ll let you listen to the podcast for details.
  • Concerns: ALA Accreditation for DLIS? Where will Informatics go and what will diplomas say? Job prospects… sure our degrees are all accredited, but what will future employers think when they google our school? And what is UB doing to make sure we are not punished as individuals for things out of our control?
  • Communication, communication, communication.
  • Will new faculty come? Will other faculty stay? What are their fates? And what do the faculty have to say about all this?
  • IS this a done deal? There are still many decisions to be made, including passing faculty council. How will students and faculty be included in the process? Or better yet, students are stating unequivocally that they wish to be included in the discussion.
  • Another missed opportunity for Buffalo? We could be leading the way in educating the information professionals of the future. Cutting edge programs = cutting edge faculty = cutting edge students = cutting edge partnerships (eg, Firebrary)… (or any other order of the above)? Is UB dropping the ball here?
  • Bioinformatics. It’s the new buzzword – got LOTS of money from Homeland Security and Big Pharmaceutical Companies (among others) and opened up a Center of Excellence downtown. Did we step on their branding and confuse things from the President’s perspective? Our philosophy is bigger, in my view, but our pocket books are smaller. Should we have been “School of Information” rather than “Informatics”? Bad timing?
  • The best part of the meeting, for me, was toward the end when someone suggested discussing the positives of the programs – which are numerous. This is the part where people got most passionate and articulate. Informatics, Communications, Library Science. We LOVE what we do.

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1. theory - June 30, 2006

Nice recap of the podcast session’s proceedings… heck I’ll just put up some photos and ask everyone to read your post 🙂

2. jennimi - June 30, 2006

Hey, I learned everything from you Bloguru. 🙂

3. Jim - June 30, 2006

I’ve just uploaded the podcast: Episode 033.

4. Jenn Graham - June 30, 2006

Thanks Jim! Updated the post accordingly.

5. washtublibrarian - June 30, 2006

Excellent recap. I’ll mull things tonight and post some thoughts tomorrow over on Washtub.

6. washtublibrarian - June 30, 2006

I tried to extract and distill some of the questions raised (though obviously not all). It’s posted over at

7. ladyofthelake - June 30, 2006

Hey… all this blogging, podcasting, online forums, … using technology to communicate ideas, identify issues and take action… why this is social computing, isn’t it? Like, um … maybe, the stuff of informatics?

Aww shucks! That’s not a phenomenon worth studying and most certainly NOT worthy of an academic program. It’s not hard core computer science, after all… 😉

8. Jenn Graham - July 1, 2006

ladyofthelake, once again, you nailed it. one might think you’re some kinda Informatics scholar or something….

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