Jon E. Cawthorne, Ph.D. became dean of the Wayne State University Library System and the University’s School of Information Sciences on Aug. 1, 2017. Located in the heart of Detroit, Mich., Wayne State University is a top-tier, preeminent leader in urban, community-based research. WSU is among just 2.5 percent of universities designated by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education as R1 (Doctoral University: Highest Research Activity); and among just 1.3 percent of universities that also hold Carnegie’s Community Engagement Classification. The WSU Library System comprises five libraries, including freestanding law and medical libraries; and the Walter P. Reuther Library of Labor and Urban Affairs, which houses the world’s largest labor archives. The Library System is headquarters for the Detroit Area Library Network, a consortium of 19 academic, public, school and special libraries; and information organizations committed to sharing resources and expertise toward greater efficiency and return on investment. Also operating under the Library System enterprise is the University’s School of Information Sciences, which offers three graduate degrees and five certificate credentials, including a Top 25, American Library Association-accredited library science program.
Before joining Wayne State University, Cawthorne was privileged to lead West Virginia University Libraries as dean. At WVU, he extended digital knowledge resources to seven regional campus libraries to create a virtually integrated library system. Along with a team of talented librarians and professional staff, he established the WVU Digital Publishing Institute, to advance open-access scholarship through new digital pathways for academic publication and dissemination of knowledge. Also while at WVU, Cawthorne’s commitment to diversity among academic librarians led to founding in 2015 of the Library Diversity Alliance, a four-institution residency program comprising WVU, American University, the University of Iowa, and Virginia Tech. In 2016, an inspired Association of College & Research Libraries Board voted to sponsor and support the Alliance under the ACRL aegis; today, Cawthorne chairs the ACRL Diversity Alliance program, which unites 36 academic libraries that share a commitment to growing the hiring pipeline of qualified, talented individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.
Jon Cawthorne began his library leadership career in Detroit, as director of the Detroit Public Library’s flagship branch, where he was later named interim deputy director to lead the entire 24-branch system through an organizational transition. Before becoming WVU dean of libraries in 2014, Cawthorne also held leadership positions at Florida State University, Boston College, and San Diego State University. He holds a M.L.S. degree from the University of Maryland, and a Ph.D. in managerial leadership in the information professions from Simmons College. His published research bridges the realms of diversity, libraries, organizational culture, and leadership; with a shared focus on models that anticipate and plan for rapid change and the future through strategic capacity building and workforce development.
Cawthorne and his wife Sharon are both natives of Portland, Oregon. Together they have three adult children: Trent, Nayomi and Micah.