Ithaka S+R is proud to be a new sponsor of the UCLA Senior Fellows program and we are delighted that Brian Schottlaender, retiring University Librarian at the University of California, San Diego, has agreed to lead the program.

I have been tangentially connected to this leadership program for most of my career. When I was the Library Education program officer at the Council on Library Resources in the early 1980s, we funded the first class of the UCLA Fellows program. It was designed by Dean Robert Hayes as an academic summer program for new or soon-to-be library directors in ARL institutions. UCLA faculty taught mini-courses in finance and accounting, human resources management, and higher education administration. The Fellows wrote papers that could be turned into journal articles as one of the requirements. Beverly Lynch was a Fellow in that first class, and when she became Dean of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science in 1989, she enthusiastically assumed responsibility for the Fellows program and has kept it going until the present. When Beverly announced that the time had come for her to pass the reins to the next person, it seemed a good time to think about how the program could reliably continue. As the program changes and evolves, my organization has an opportunity to contribute.

Leadership development programs are, by their highly personal nature, expensive to create and sustain. We at Ithaka S+R have been writing and speaking about the importance of leadership development for the past several years, but we considered it impractical to try to develop such a program. We saw the UCLA Senior Fellows program as an opportunity to contribute without starting anew. We commissioned Karen Calhoun to lead a study of ways in which the UCLA Senior Fellows program could be continued and appointed an advisory committee to work with her. Karen carried out an exhaustive study that included interviewing many of the Fellows about their experience with the program and their recommendation for the future. She surveyed the community to learn about perceptions of the program and she analyzed the financial requirements of the program. She developed possible scenarios for continuing the program and tested them with librarians. In her final report to Ithaka S+R, Karen and the advisory committee recommended that the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies join forces with the UCLA Libraries and Ithaka S+R to re-conceptualize the Senior Fellows program.

All three organizations have embraced the responsibility for analyzing the curriculum and making changes that will help new library leaders confront the challenges presented by the 21st century and for developing a sustainable business model for the program. The program will be guided by an advisory committee made up of Larry Alford (University of Toronto); Alberta Comer (University of Utah); Trevor Dawes (University of Delaware); Carol Diedrichs (Ohio State University, retired); and John Unsworth (University of Virginia). The first class in the reconfigured program will meet in August 2018 on the UCLA campus.

In 2016, I wrote about the need to re-imagine library leadership for the digital era, and I argued that modern library leaders are responsible for articulating the digital library’s mission and vision. Though most of them have been trained to focus on local collections, now a national, even global, mindset is key. And this different and necessary perspective requires a different kind of leadership. We believe that the UCLA Senior Fellows program will be a critical component of the formation of the new leaders that are in urgent demand. We offer our full support of the program and its leader, Brian Schottlaender, and our partners, the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies and the UCLA Libraries.