SIS faculty, students, alumni, staff, and friends joined together Friday, October 21, 2022, to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the MSIS Program’s ALA Accreditation. Accreditation for an information sciences school means that the program adheres to the highest standards in the field and continues to keep apace of the advancements and innovation of the day. It’s a difficult process to maintain accreditation, yet SIS remains a top-tier institution year after year.
The day consisted of two events — an afternoon panel and an evening celebratory reception. At the afternoon panel discussion, CCI Dean Joe Mazer spoke to the significance of the MSIS program’s high ranking as the number one program in library and information sciences in the SEC, and top 10 nationally.
“Those rankings speak to the quality of the program, the great faculty,” he said, “but it’s all about looking to the future today, and where we are going to be as a school in the next ten, twenty, thirty years. I’m really excited for 2028 when we’re going to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the entire school.”
SIS Director Abebe Rorissa highlighted how individual contributions have led to the success of the school. “Think about how many people put in the effort, hard work and innovation into producing more than 2,800 alumni who are leaders in the field all over the world,” he said. “For me, this is the story of this program, its people, and their success.”
Following the opening remarks, a commemorative video was screened featuring Director of Graduate Studies Ericka Patillo, alumnus Rohit Srivastava (’21) and current MSIS student Amy Snyder. All three shared wisdom and insight into information sciences and why accreditation matters.
Patillo remarked, “Information sciences is a meta-discipline that touches everything in every discipline, every community and every profession. You have information and data that needs to be gathered, preserved, organized, and accessed. And so our students can come to us from backgrounds in music, biology, math, anything, and apply the skills that we teach with their disciplines and go work almost anywhere.”
Snyder, who interned at the Library of Congress this summer, spoke to the reputation of the school. “In the highest library and the field, there are people who are amazed at this program and have only said good things to me about it. […] Fifty years is a long time for a program to be accredited, and for a lot of people to be a part of it, and learn from all these different professors across the years. And looking back on it, it is such an important legacy, not just for them, but for myself. I wouldn’t be here without it.”
Srivastava agreed. “It feels amazing to be a part of a legacy as great as UT’s information sciences program,” he said. “You get to see years upon years of success. The ranking and accreditation has improved our place on the map.”
The afternoon continued with a keynote from Dr. Kendra Albright (’85) and a reflective panel discussion featuring SIS alumni and friends, each one a representative of a different decade in the school’s history: Alvin Blount (’22), Dr. Monica Colon-Aguirre (’08), Martha Earl (’85), Dr. Danuta Nitecki (’76, MS in Communications), Scot Smith (’98), and Van Walker (’12).
“When we look back, we can see how many things have really changed over the last fifty years,” Albright said. “Technology that seemed innovative and transformative at that time really has been surpassed by anything we could have even imagined. But given the incredible increase in the rate of change, innovation, and development, one can only imagine what things will look like in another fifty years, and at this rate it looks like we will still be a big player.”
The afternoon closed with an award ceremony recognizing individuals with outstanding contributions to the program. The Marcellus Turner Alumni Award was given to Amy Dye-Reeves, associate education and history librarian at Texas Tech University. The Carol Tenopir Faculty Award was given to Dr. Dania Bilal, professor in the SIS program and Dr. Rachel Fleming-May, associate professor in the SIS program. Finally, the Shawn Collins Staff Award was given to Tanya Arnold, coordinator of student services for SIS.
The culminating event of the day’s celebration was a joyful evening reception at Relix Variety.
As Albright said in her keynote, “It is clear from the progress and the success brought by the [MSIS] program during its first half century of accreditation that it will continue to rise in prominence and impact as it continues to lead library and information science education in our nation and in the discipline.”