July 22, 2020

Wayne State Library System dean elected president of Association of College and Research Libraries

Jon Cawthorne, dean of the Wayne State University Library System, recently took on the role of 83rd president of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) after being elected president-elect in 2019.

“I am excited, honored and humbled to serve ACRL as president,” said Cawthorne. “Due to the pandemic, it will be a season of great change for ACRL, but it is my hope that we will be able to build on our foundations and expertise to create a positive, thriving future for academic libraries.”

The largest division of the American Library Association, ACRL is the higher education association for academic libraries and library workers. With a membership of more than 10,000 individuals and libraries, ACRL develops programs, products and services to help those working in academic and research libraries learn, innovate and lead within the academic community.

            “In the coming year, I’ll be focused on the essential question coming out of the pandemic: How will all academic libraries serve institutions, students and alumni in ways that meet this moment?” said Cawthorne. “We’ll begin with creating a greater understanding of organizational cultures: examining the health, well-being and beliefs of individuals that come together to influence our organizations and share our work as leaders at Wayne State.”

Cawthorne’s energetic and passionate servant leadership approach has assisted organizations in achieving effective and strategic outcomes to diversity and inclusion. The scope of his work includes supporting excellence in teaching and learning through the recruitment, development and retention of a diverse workforce. Most recently, he served as chair of the ACRL Diversity Alliance Steering Committee, which unites 36 academic libraries that share a commitment to growing the hiring pipeline of qualified, talented individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. 

“Dean Cawthorne has been instrumental in the growth of diversity, inclusion and community engagement initiatives at the libraries,” said Wayne State University Provost Keith Whitfield. “He has a strong desire and commitment to make Wayne State a welcoming and inclusive environment for students, faculty and staff. I’m sure that he will use that same determination to benefit ACRL at a time when leadership really matters.”

Cawthorne has served as the dean of the Wayne State University Library System since 2017. He holds a master’s in library and information science from the University of Maryland, and a doctorate in managerial leadership in the information professions from Simmons College.


The Wayne State University Library System consists of the university's five libraries: The David Adamany Undergraduate Library, the Purdy/Kresge Library, the Shiffman Medical Library, the Arthur Neef Law Library and the Reuther Library as well as the School of Information Sciences.

Wayne State University is a premier institution offering nearly 350 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 27,000 students.

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