Trinity University is excited to announce that Benjamin Harris, MLIS, has been selected as the inaugural dean of the library. On June 1, Harris will begin his five-year appointment and join the ranks of Trinity’s other new deans in leading the University in alignment with its core values and mission of supporting student success.
“I've been at Trinity for almost two decades, and throughout, my aim has been to make a contribution and to be of use,” Harris says. “This appointment means saying goodbye to some of the ways I've made my contribution in the past but offers new opportunities and new challenges. I'm particularly excited to help others as they make their contribution to our Trinity community and our shared history.”
After receiving degrees in library and information studies and rhetoric from the University of Oklahoma, Harris arrived at Trinity as a librarian for the humanities in 2004. He has since served as information literacy coordinator, head of instruction services, and most recently, as interim University librarian. He has worked with departments and faculty across disciplines, including art and art history, classical studies, comparative literature, education, English, human communication and theatre, philosophy, and modern languages and literatures. He has also been a member of the Faculty Senate, the University Curriculum Council, the Promotion and Tenure Commission, and a host of other standing and ad-hoc university committees and groups.
As dean of the library, Harris will be responsible for providing strategic management and executive administration of Coates Library’s staff, resources, budget, and building, while fostering an inclusive community of support and service across campus.
“While I take the role of the library as the laboratory of the humanities very seriously, the library is for everyone. Let me repeat that with emphasis: The library is for everyone,” Harris says. “Someone said that years ago, and we repeat it regularly as a reminder that regardless of who enters our doors—where they come from, what they're studying, why they've arrived—they belong here, and we're eager to make them feel welcome.”
Among the many types of work Harris has been involved in over the years, his favorite commitments include selecting student work for the annual library art purchase, celebrating the recipients of each year's Research Thing awards from the library, and teaching in the First-Year Experience program. In his new role, Harris is excited to continue these initiatives that support student success and encourage the strengthening of academic relationships across campus.
“As partners with faculty and staff across campus, it is also our mission to encourage the success of our Trinity students,” Harris says. “The library has long held the belief that the development of information literacy is key to fostering lifelong learners. And as we work with other faculty to enhance the curriculum in specific classes, majors, and departments, and in experiential or independent learning, we are active advocates in ensuring that Trinity meets its core values for excellence.”
Along with his fellow deans, Harris will work closely with Megan Mustain, Ph.D., provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “With my role as a member of the Provost's Council and given the position of the incoming dean structure, Coates Library and our goals for the campus will have a seat at a very influential table, where decisions will be made and action will be taken,” Harris says. “We're thrilled, and without exaggeration, I'm confident that Trinity is entering its best era yet.”
Special thanks to the search committee, who shepherded a process that was transparent, intentional, and rigorous. The committee consisted of Jane Costanza; Rocio Delgado, Ph.D.; Colleen Hoelscher, MLS; Jie Zhang, Ph.D.; and Kimberley Phillips, Ph.D., with administrative support from Molly Pylant.