James Hilton leaves library to focus on academic innovation

James Hilton, University of Michigan Vice Dean for Academic Innovation and University Librarian-Dean of Libraries, will step down from his position at his library on June 30 to focus more on the university’s expanded academic innovation efforts in the role of Vice Dean of Libraries.

James Hilton

In a letter to his library colleagues announcing the move, Hilton said the transformation, with one year left at the library, would allow the university to appoint a new Dean of Libraries with an ongoing commitment for many years to come.

Dean Susan M. Collins commended Hilton for his comprehensive leadership and said that the national search for a new university librarian – a dean of librarians will begin over the winter. She is seeking recommendations for membership in and for leadership of a research advisory committee.

“I commend James for his visionary approach and extensive efforts on academic innovation. We are really fortunate that he will remain in Michigan and continue to lead us into the future in this critical area,” Collins said.

Hilton said he’s always considered the library as the heart of the campus, mainly because of the dedicated staff.

“We have worked together for nine years on an ambitious journey to ensure the library is a culture and a place for sustainable and empowered innovation,” Hilton wrote to his colleagues at the library.

“We have collaborated to be indispensable partners in the University’s world-changing work with the Library as a platform that enables discovery, teaching, learning, health, invention and creative expression. It is a great honor to be in your company and a privilege to be your Dean.”

Prior to returning to UM in 2013, Hilton was Vice President and Chief Information Officer at the University of Virginia from 2006 to 2013. From 2001-2006, he was Associate Dean for Academic Information and Educational Technology Affairs at UM.

Collins thanked Hilton for his dedication to the important mission of libraries and for “delivering the services that represent an outstanding public research library in the twenty-first century.”

Collins said that in nearly a decade of service at UM, Hilton has spearheaded the development of digital grant services, increased awareness and access to UM faculty research, experimented with new sustainable open publishing models, and fostered collaborative group engagement, preservation and collaboration. and increasing the organization’s focus on addressing issues of bias and racism.

Collins said she would soon meet with members of the Library Council to discuss the research process, and invited library staff and others to share notes through a questionnaire on key issues, traits of a new university librarian—dean of libraries, nominations for research advisory committee, and ideas on who might chair the research advisory committee.

Additional feedback and questions can be emailed to librarian-dean-search@umich.edu.

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