Saturday, October 11, 2008

DiversiTea! Patrick Dawson

Patrick Dawson now serves as the Dean of the University Libraries at Northern Illinois University. He recently came from the University of California, Santa Barbra where he served as the Associate University Librarian for Information and Research Services and the Head of the Colección Tloque Nahuaque, for resources on Chicano studies. That library collection had its origins with students. Chicano and African Americans took over the computer lab and told the university that they wanted Chicano and African American studies programs.

To emphasize that libraries generally do not represent the population that they serve, Dawson provided statistics. In 2002, 208 African Americans, 147 Latinos, and 0.5% American Indians graduated with degrees in library science--for the entire United States. It is possible to engage in recruitment to the profession, which he did at Santa Barbara. The challenge is that librarians do not make as much money compared to other professions. Dawson, however, mentored three people and OCLC will start a new program for minorities with the intention of diversifying library management. He is currently working toward establishing a fellowship program, with the goal of helping recent library school graduates gain work experience for two years and build their resumes. His work is his way of giving something back to the profession because he benefited from a fellowship program in the past.

For more information on the Colección Tloque Nahuaque at Santa Barbara, please see the Web site at:

For more information on Patrick Dawson, please see this link:

1 comment:

Kay Shelton said...

In the thought provoking presentations, Jenifer brought up investment voting and Patrick brought up student protests. I have to plead the 5th for engaging in both. :-)

When I was an undergraduate student at DePauw University in Indiana, out of a campus of 2,300 students, there were around 20 total students from under-represented groups from the United States and other countries (roughly .87%). It was also the era of Apartheid in South Africa. One of the fraternities did not understand that holding a “ghetto” party was a bad idea. A student organization I helped found engaged in protesting and bringing in educational speakers. The protesting we engaged in was appropriate for that campus and for the 1980s. There was no building occupation--we sent in our accounting and business majors wearing suits to a Board of Trustees meeting. They negotiated with the Trustees to change the endowment’s ‘regular’ portfolio, resulting in their decision to move over $80 million of the college’s assets into a socially responsible portfolio. Our business major students entered the meeting with the strategy to show the Trustees that socially responsible investing could send a message that making good choices was the right thing to do and with the proof that socially responsible corporations still made excellent profits. Those responsible corporations would be worthy of anyone’s investment. I could have done without the 4:00 a.m. death threats I kept receiving from a “racist” for my extracurricular activities, though. Following the change in the investment portfolio, the university’s endowment and donor involvement continued to expand, growing to a half a billion in assets.

Our campus organization was successful with our endeavors because:

1. The university trustees and the university president were both very willing to listen to the students. The university president came to two of our campus organization meetings. No success is possible unless others are willing to listen.

2. When our members talked to those leaders, we were prepared to back up our views with data and evidence.

3. Those leaders took their responsibility seriously; as educators, they believed they should ensure that the learning environment could prepare students to make ethical decisions later.

Before I graduated, DePauw actually started caring about recruiting students from under-represented groups, too. Much of that came from the recently retired university president, who was new my first year. He built his legacy not just on increasing the endowment or having shiny, new buildings built, but the student population better reflects the ‘real world.’ Otherwise, how would it be possible to prepare students for that real world?

Out of curiosity, I checked DePauw’s Web site and today the student body has just over 20% of its population from under-represented groups. The admissions application no longer asks for a photograph. If I remember correctly, the reason given for asking for the photograph in the past was so admissions officers would be able to recognize students when they came for their interviews. The application today allows people to indicate multiethnic, instead of indicating just one group, which I believe reflects reality better. A couple of years ago, DePauw’s president dealt with a sorority discriminating against “ugly” girls swiftly, too. He recently retired, and I certainly learned a lot from him--making good choices is better for more people, and it is the responsibility of the educator to pass that vision on to the next generation.

Making good choices should be a requirement for every institution, especially those charged with educating young people.

In looking at the current blood bath on Wall Street that has no end in sight for now, I am sorry that not enough college students of my age and the older generation learned those lessons. People read Peter Drucker’s work but did they listen to what he had to say? Obviously not: Financial Crisis: What Drucker Would Have Said