Affirmation, accreditation, celebration for MLIS program!

St. Catherine University is proud to announce that the Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program has received initial accreditation from the American Library Association—making it the only library and information science program in Minnesota, and one of only 57 in North America, to achieve the coveted recognition.

“This historic decision underscores and affirms the value and academic excellence of this nationally recognized program,” said St. Catherine President Andrea J. Lee, IHM, who worked closely with faculty and administrators on the months-long process. "Senior Vice President Colleen Hegranes made invaluable contributions and offered creative and steady leadership in moving us to this moment of success, as did Dean of the School of Professional Studies and the Graduate College MaryAnn Janosik since her arrival last summer."

The ALA’s Committee on Accreditation (COA) announced its decision in early January 2011 after its midwinter meeting in San Diego, California.

Associate Dean and MLIS Director Deborah
Grealy, Ph.D. Photo by Rebecca Zenefski '10.

“We’ve got a golden ticket now,” said Associate Dean and MLIS Director Deborah Grealy, Ph.D., who joined the St. Catherine faculty in January 2010. “This affirmation from the ALA positions us nationally and, more importantly, positions our graduates for professional-level employment nationwide—including in academic, public, school and special libraries.”

In addition, this opens a gateway to prestigious scholarships and fellowships that are only available to those enrolled in or graduates of an accredited program.

Grealy came to St. Catherine from the University of Denver, where, as director, she helped the school’s Library and Information Science program earn initial ALA accreditation in 2004. At that time, Denver was the first college or university program that the ALA had accredited since the mid-1970s, Grealy said.

“We could not have had a better leader working with faculty and editing the 200-page proposal submitted to the ALA,” said Janosik, who has extensive experience working on academic accreditations. “Deb’s the architect of this fine document.”

Dean of the School of Professional Studies and the Graduate
College MaryAnn Janosik. Photo by Rebecca Zenefski '10.

Grealy, for her part, is quick to credit the MLIS faculty with crafting the first version of the lengthy accreditation proposal, which she, President Lee, Senior Vice President Hegranes, Dean Janosik and MLIS alumnus David Peterson presented to the ALA’s Committee on Accreditation (COA) in early January. “It was a collaborative effort,” Grealy said.

She also credited former MLIS Director Mary Wagner for her leadership. Wagner joined the MLIS faculty in 1975 and developed curriculum, taught in the program, chaired the department three times and also served as director from 1991 to 2010.

Wagner was awarded a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship in 2010 to teach at the University of Zambia in Lusaka and help build library services for children and young adults. She is also working with the Lubuto Library Project, a nongovernmental organization that develops open-access libraries for African street orphans.

A legacy of library education
The MLIS program at St. Kate’s has a strong legacy in community-based library education, dating back to 1917. The then–College of St. Catherine offered a baccalaureate degree in library and information decades prior to partnering with Dominican University to offer an accredited master’s-level library and information science program that ran from 1991 to 2008.

In 2008, St. Kate’s began the process of seeking ALA accreditation on its own.

“There are not that many accredited library schools in the United States,” said a clearly jubilant Grealy after she learned the news. “We especially need more private schools with strong commitments to community-based practice and social justice — mission-driven schools like St. Catherine University — to participate in the study of library science in our nation.”

Janosik stated that initial accreditation will open doors to new curricular offerings in St. Kate’s MLIS program, including possible partnerships with law schools and healthcare institutions to add more focused tracks of library study. In addition, St. Kate’s students will now be eligible for scholarships — such as the ALA Spectrum Scholarship, which promotes ethnic diversity in library science.

The University will also be able to launch a chapter of Beta Phi Mu, the national library science honor society founded at the University of Illinois in 1948.

Given its historic focus on community-based library education, its academic foundation in the liberal arts and its social justice–focused mission, St. Catherine is uniquely positioned to preserve the vision of libraries as educational and community centers alive and relevant in the 21st century, Grealy believes.

“Resources are available through public libraries in the United States that are not available anywhere else in the world,” she explained. “Services to underserved populations, to our children and to our schools are of critical importance. When the economy is bad people don’t pay for wireless routers and DSL lines. They go to the library.”

Celebrating an achievement
A celebration for MLIS faculty, staff and students, and for all members of the St. Catherine community, will be held the evening of Monday, Feb. 7, in Rauenhorst Hall in Coeur de Catherine on the St. Paul campus. The theme: “Affirmation, Accreditation, Celebration!”

T-shirts will be available, and treats will be served. Watch the St. Kate’s homepage for further details.

By Amy Gage
Jan. 12, 2011

Contact Amy Gage, (651) 690-6829

More News Headlines »