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Johnson Hall can’t hire a Library Dean without paying a search firm $150K?

Last updated on 12/14/2019

No wonder Brad Shelton is running a $10M deficit. It’s not like this is something important like a new Duck offensive co-ordinator. In fact, according to the glossy brochure put out by WittKieffer search consultants Suzanne Teer, Philip Tang, and Jessica Herrington at [email protected], who are charging us $150K or so, the next Dean of UO Libraries won’t even need to have a Bachelors Degree, much less an MLS, or a PhD like the previous Dean:

Thanks to an anonymous angry librarian for the link. I can only speculate as to why AVP Melanie Muenzer’s search advocate “thought partner” didn’t catch this omission – or why they added “Personal Qualities” to a job announcement.

I can see the applications now: “Since you asked, size 12 shoes, a bit overweight, and happily married on the second try. Letter from spouse attached.”

Their entire brochure is a piece of work. It’s more about promoting Pres Schill – a client? – and the Board of Trustee’s accomplishments than about recruiting a new Dean of Libraries:

New mission statement? Yes, Coltrane and Lillis did get that time-wasting task done, after a year or so. Mission Accomplished. This is the first mention I’ve heard of it since.

In 2018 the UNC system banned its schools from hiring Witt Kieffer for searches, after they failed to do due diligence.


  1. thedude 12/14/2019

    I think they should start paying departments 150k Everytime we conduct a search. Fair is fair?

    • Fishwrapper 12/14/2019


  2. D 12/15/2019

    A prediction – within twenty years, Knight Library will transition to being akin to a book depository, staffed by only a dozen full-time staff helping a small number of users access special materials there. Branch libraries will shrink accordingly.

  3. Amy Adams 12/16/2019

    “UO Libraries has an annual operating budget of $21 million
    and employs 55 faculty librarians, just over 150 staff
    members, and more than 150 student workers.”

    Funny how large numbers ($21 million) and small (55 faculty) are treated as if they were precise in this sentence, while the number 150 (for staff and student workers) gets the “just over” and “more than” treatment.

    • Mr. X 12/16/2019

      To give someone the benefit of the doubt perhaps the “just over” represents the fact that the staff number has a bit more fluctuation than the faculty number due to seasonal workload, etc.?

      How miserable it would be to write anything on campus with so much criticism over innocuous use of language.

      • Adopted handle 12/17/2019

        If we’re not turning out obnoxious pedants, I’m not sure what we’re even here for.

  4. Arts-duck 12/16/2019

    To play devil’s advocate, it’s standard operating procedure in cultural non-profits to retain a search firm when recruiting an executive director—the JSMA hired an outside search firm to field candidates for the recent ED hire (and the one before that). Having gone through such searches as a candidate, I can also say that it’s also quite common for the materials sent to prospective candidates to have info on the school—after all, the process is as much about selling the candidates on the school and the job as it is selling the school on the candidate.
    But I am flummoxed by the failure to require a MLIS or MLS degree at the very least—especially when the searches for librarians at UO requires it.

    • apt 12/16/2019

      My very inexperienced thought, and based on the background of the folks tasked at the firm for this hire, seems to center on this position’s focus on fundraising. If you can bring in some cash, then do “qualifications” really matter?? or, less cynically, the qualifications were assumed; as in, you gotta have some degrees to even think about applying…???? I’m leaning towards eyes on the fundraising prize…

      • Dog 12/17/2019

        Right, the Dean of Libraries should definitely not go to an Academic with excellent scholarly credentials – this should only go to a fundraiser and really, why do we even need faculty – scholarship considerations seem to be long gone from the UO these days …

  5. Confused 12/17/2019

    Thanks for calling the position “Library Dean” but notice – the position has been downgraded.

    • New Year Cat 12/17/2019


      • uomatters Post author | 12/17/2019

        Is this a substantive change? I guess I am asking if the typical responsibilities, training, etc. of a “VP and university librarian” are different than those of a Dean of Libraries. Thanks for any explanation and links.

        • Concerned 12/28/2019

          We aren’t sure if changing the position from Dean to VP is a substantive change, but it suggests that the Libraries are no longer considered an academic partner on campus. Some have also wondered who will apply for a job that was changed from an academic position to a more administrative one. There is also no mention of the Knight endowment for this version.

  6. New Year Cat 12/18/2019

    Since I believe at *least* the 1970s, past Heads/Deans of the Libraries all had MLS/MLIS and long years of progressively responsibly library practice and management. That helps them understand the many things that academic research libraries do, issues in the field, etc. and shows that they have some interest in the field itself, not just in a high position with money attached. Also that herding library faculty and staff is not the same as herding, e.g., business school faculty and staff.

  7. color blind 12/29/2019

    I like how they almost managed to get the bullet points lined up with the text.

    Also, according to the last bullet point “the UO has…rewrote its mission statement…”

    I hope the UO pays at least 150k for this valiant effort.

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