UIC Library Dean’s goals include student success, social justice
Rhea Ballard-Thrower has recently been appointed University Librarian and Dean of Libraries at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC). Prior to her appointment at UIC, Ballard-Thrower was Executive Director of the Howard University Libraries and a tenured professor at the Howard University School of Law.
As a law professor, she has taught advanced legal research using the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program pedagogy, where she taught law students and incarcerated students in the same class at a correctional facility.
At UIC, Dean Ballard-Thrower holds the rank of professor in the University Library and an affiliate faculty position at the UIC John Marshall Law School, where she plans to teach advanced legal research.
Professor Ballard-Thrower holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Cincinnati, a Master of Information and Library Studies from the University of Michigan, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Kentucky College of Law. Prior to becoming UIC Dean of Libraries and working at Howard University, she also was associate director of the Georgia State University Law Library and worked as a reference librarian at the Tarlton Law Library at the University of Texas-Austin. Professor Ballard-Thrower has been a legal bibliography instructor, conference presenter and author of many articles on law librarianship.
Dean Ballard-Thrower recently spoke with UIC Today:
What is your goal as the new University Librarian and Dean of Libraries at UIC and what would you like to accomplish?
I have four goals, or maybe one goal with four parts: student success, faculty support, DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) initiatives, and social justice. No. 1 is student success. I believe this is why we do what we do. Otherwise, UIC would be an excellent research institution with a hospital, but we are more than that. We are an educational institution. One of the things I was attracted to about UIC, which we can do a better job of promoting, is that we are a Research 1 institution with Pell Grant eligible and first-generation students. That UIC has top-level research and also has this amazing diversity in its student body is exceptional. We have students of color who get the opportunity to work with top-notch professors, scientists and scholars to produce amazing work. In many ways, we could be a model for what other universities aspire to be. Students of color and all the other wonderful aspects of diversity like sexual orientation, religion, etc., create great diversity on our UIC campuses. The library with its DEI Council has been an early proponent of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, and I plan to support the library system in those efforts. The library must also support the faculty with their research and teaching to enable them to educate and guide the students. And finally, there is social justice. I feel the library can take an active role in providing inclusive resources, which represent us all.