Dean of University Libraries

Dean of University Libraries

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Birmingham, AL   |   August 23, 2019

The University of Alabama at Birmingham seeks an exceptional leader to be the next Dean of University Libraries (Dean).  Reporting to the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost and a member of the Dean’s Council, the Dean provides intellectual, strategic, and visionary leadership for the University Libraries comprised of two libraries, the Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences and the Mervyn H. Sterne Library.  The Dean is the chief administrative and academic officer of the University Libraries and is responsible for leading the Libraries’ current and future efforts to cultivate scholars, students, and members of the public who are critical users, and creators of information in all its forms.

The Dean serves as the Libraries’ public voice and advocate, developing their reputation and expertise on a regional and national stage and within the profession.  In addition, the Dean will seek out opportunities for partnerships and collaborations within the region and nationally.  This is an exciting time to be at The University of Alabama at Birmingham, and the next Dean will have support from leadership to continue investments in digital initiatives and resources creating a dynamic modern library proactively supporting the faculty, staff, students and the community of a university named #1 Young University two years in a row by Times Higher Education.

The University Libraries

UAB has two libraries under the leadership of the Dean of the University Libraries, both providing resources and services to faculty, staff and students that support the mission of the University. Mervyn H. Sterne Library supports teaching and research in the arts and humanities, business, education, engineering, natural sciences and mathematics and social and behavioral sciences. Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences, Alabama’s largest biomedical library, provides services and resources for users in medicine, nursing, optometry, dentistry, public health, health professions, and joint health sciences. The UAB Libraries house roughly 1.5 million volumes (as reported in the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries 2018 Statistical Index) that support teaching, learning, research, and scholarship at UAB. In 2017, the Libraries opened a remote storage and user browsing facility located a few blocks away from campus, thereby freeing shelving space in the two main facilities for other uses, including the UAB MakerSpace, developed jointly by student representatives in the School of Education and the School of Engineering in the Mervyn H. Sterne Library and the Virtual Reality Studio in the Lister Hill Library.

In addition to the Mervyn H. Sterne Library and the Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences, UAB Libraries include the Reynolds-Finley Historical Library, the Alabama Museum of the Health Sciences, Lister Hill Library at University Hospital, UAB Archives, and the 801 Building.

The UAB Libraries provide document delivery and Interlibrary Loan services serving the entire UAB campus. The document delivery service allows UAB faculty, staff, and students to request a copy of any journal article or book chapter from the UAB Libraries’ print collections housed in Sterne Library, Lister Hill Library, or the remote storage location. The requested articles or book chapters are scanned by the libraries’ interlibrary loan staff and delivered electronically, in most cases within 24 – 48 hours, to the user. This service complements the Rapid Interlibrary Loan which electronically delivers articles and book chapters not owned by the UAB Libraries.

Together, the libraries have 32 library faculty and approximately 40 library staff and a budget of approximately $13 million. About one-third of the faculty have been recruited in national searches within the past five years, including a full-time librarian specializing in emerging technologies such as virtual reality and 3D printing. Fourteen of the library faculty serve as liaison librarians and have relationships with specific UAB colleges and schools. Liaison librarians are assigned to specific schools at the university and are subject specialists ready to connect users to library services and collections. They develop relationships with students, faculty, and staff to support UAB faculty and student research and provide instruction on a wide range of topics. They select electronic and print resources and develop collections for their respective schools.

A member of the Association College & Research Libraries (ACRL), UAB Libraries and their engaged and responsive faculty and staff are deeply committed to the research and teaching mission of the university and as thought leaders engaging with their constituents and unique communities promoting access to research and collections.  The Libraries are members of the Global Resources Partnership of the Center for Research Libraries and Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering and Technology. The primary focus of this partnership is to ensure the availability of the knowledge resources vital to research and learning in the sciences and to act as a guardian of the collective intellectual heritage with regard to the science, technology, and engineering disciplines.

The Mervyn H. Sterne Library

The Mervyn H. Sterne Library (SL) houses a collection of more than one million items. It is located in the heart of the academic portion of the UAB campus, adjacent to a brand-new building opening in Fall 2019 housing seven departments in the College of Arts and Sciences, including English, Computer Science, Foreign Languages and Literatures, Anthropology, Philosophy and Mathematics. With recent renovations of public and instructional areas on the first floor, Sterne has a welcoming entrance and a consolidated circulation and online reference services area called the HUB. Total seating capacity is over 1,000. Computers are available for student and faculty use. Electronic databases, journals, and e-books are available 24/7 on and off campus. The University Writing Center is located in SL and the first floor has a Starbucks coffee shop. Upper floors house specific collections, such as periodicals and a juvenile collection. With its own entrance, an upper floor also houses the University’s International Student and Scholar Services offices.

A unique, student-run MakerSpace is located immediately next to the entrance on the first floor, where students explore new ideas, innovation and entrepreneurship. Among the tools provided for students in this space are virtual reality, 3D scanning, printing, circuits, material prototyping and more. Funding for the 3D tools was provided by the School of Engineering, a faculty development grant made possible by a program for faculty grants sponsored by the UAB Faculty Senate, and the UAB Office of the Provost.

Sterne offers core services such as reference and research assistance, research consultations, bibliographic instruction and workshops, and collection development. Online research and citation consultations are available for distance education students.

Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences

The Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences (LHL) provides services and resources for users in UAB’s schools of medicine, nursing, optometry, dentistry, public health, and health professions. Through the National Institutes of Health, this network provides U.S. health professionals with equal access to biomedical information and also provides individuals access to information to enable them to make informed decisions about their health.  The Alabama Museum of the Health Sciences houses seven hundred years of materials related to medicine and interesting health conditions with collections of instruments, equipment, specimens and models used by healthcare professionals around the world.  Visitors experience the history of medicine, it’s immeasurable progress and global challenges through its varied and interesting collections.

Established in 1945, LHL is housed in a modern six-level building in the center of campus between the Schools of Medicine and Optometry. The outdoor plaza has an overpass walkway that crosses to the Schools of Nursing, Health Professions, and Public Health. The main level of the building contains the integrated service point, also called the HUB, staff offices, public computers, group study rooms, and open seating. Much of this area has been recently renovated, including the addition of a 3D printing space, funded through a faculty development grant, is being developed on the first floor, and an innovative Virtual Reality Studio which offers students, faculty and staff access to virtual reality and augmented reality technologies. The circulating book collection is on the second floor. There is also quiet study space around the collection. The third floor of the Library houses the Reynolds-Finley Historical Library and the UAB Archives.

The Reynolds-Finley Historical Library contains rare books (including 30 incunabula), pamphlets, and manuscripts in the history of medicine and health-related fields. This collection dates from the mid-14th century to the early 20th century and includes a core of world-renowned medical classics on medicine in the Civil War, the South, and early Americana. The UAB Archives is the repository for the permanent records of the University, but it also collects and preserves manuscripts that document the history of the health sciences. University records and the manuscript collections include holograph letters (written entirely in the hand of the signatory), correspondence, photographs and diaries.

Although not under the management of the Libraries, The Edge of Chaos, an innovative shared workspace for collaboration, is located on the top floor of the LHL building. This space is part art studio, part meeting space and open to all of UAB.

About The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)

UAB serves students, patients, the community and the global need for discovery, knowledge dissemination, education, creativity and the application of ground breaking solutions.  A leader among comprehensive public, urban research universities with academic medical centers, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) traces its roots to the 1859 founding of the Medical College of Alabama and the 1936 opening of the Birmingham Extension Center of The University of Alabama.  In 1966, these entities were merged, and in 1969 UAB became an independent institution, one of the autonomous universities within the newly created three-campus University of Alabama System. As the University celebrates its 50th year, UAB has transformed from its modest beginnings into a doctoral research university and academic medical center with nearly 22,000 students, $527 million in research expenditures, and treatment of more than 1,000,000 patients every year in one of the largest academic medical centers in the U.S. Throughout that time, the vision has remained constant: to educate, advance discovery, care for the sick, respond to the needs of the community and establish Alabama as a progressive economic center that can change the world.

UAB’s vision, mission, and shared values provide the foundation of the strategic plan, Forging the Future, a plan for the next five years of growth.  UAB’s four mission pillars include goals in education, research, innovation & economic development, community engagement, and patient care.  Read about the plan here:

UAB offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees in nine schools, including the Collat School of Business, Education, Engineering, Health Professions, Nursing, Public Health, Dentistry, Medicine and Optometry and the College of Arts & Sciences. The UAB Honors College enrolls over 2,000 students, with opportunities for students to develop personalized curricula and engage in unique learning opportunities in service learning, undergraduate research, honors seminars and study abroad.  With over 120 areas of study, including 51 baccalaureate degree programs, 55 Master’s programs and 40 doctoral programs, UAB gives students the benefit of globally recognized faculty, exciting academic challenges, and experiences that will fully prepare them for graduate and professional school and the job market.  UAB is one of only 51 universities classified by The Carnegie Foundation for both “very high research activity” and “community engagement.”

Consistently ranked among the most diverse universities nationally by The Princeton Review, UAB is experiencing record growth in enrollment and in 2018 for the third consecutive year enrolled 2,299 freshman, and growth in overall enrollment and retention. The UAB community consists of people from around the United States and around the world—in the fall of 2018, UAB students, faculty and staff represented over 100 countries of origin.  With 23,000 employees, UAB is the largest single employer in Alabama, with an annual economic impact of over $7 billion.  One in every 31 jobs within the state of Alabama either is held directly by a UAB employee or is supported as a result of UAB’s presence.

Central to its mission is its intensively collaborative culture within the University and with local community partners designed to improve quality of life locally, regionally and globally.

UAB embodies a spirit of discovery that advances knowledge, solves real-world problems and drives economic development. UAB’s research faculty ranks among the nation’s best funded and is noted for exceptional mentoring and training — from undergraduate researchers to post-doctoral fellows. In 2018, total research expenditures exceeded $527M, a 10% increase over 2017, and UAB ranked 31st in federal research funding, which is 15th among public universities. UAB’s research team includes 1,193 principal investigators, and 2,500 + key personnel, and is conducted in the departments of 10 schools, 24 university-wide research centers, UAB hospitals and clinics and field sites by faculty, fellows and students collaborating among themselves and with others around the globe.

For more information about UAB visit the website at and

The University of Alabama System

With more than 68,500 students, the University of Alabama System is Alabama’s largest higher education enterprise, consisting of three doctoral research universities: The University of Alabama, The University of Alabama at Birmingham and The University of Alabama in Huntsville. Each of the component institutions has a unique mission that is consistent with the broader mission of the System. With more than 36,000 employees at its three campuses and health system, the University of Alabama system is the equivalent of Alabama’s fifth largest city.

About the City of Birmingham, Alabama

Birmingham, located at the southernmost edge of the Appalachian Mountains, is the largest city in Alabama. The metropolitan area is home to 1.2 million people and is a significant commercial center in the Southeast. The city’s business base has evolved from its manufacturing to a service economy with strong professional, business, legal, and medical sectors, but still deserves its nickname it earned in the 19th century—”Magic City”—as a result of its rapid growth.  A thriving innovation and technology center, Birmingham is a regional hub for healthcare, is one of the largest banking markets in the United States and boasts more than 700 technology-based companies, including Shipt, ProctorU, Motion Industries, and the UAB Startup Fledging.

Birmingham is also a leading regional cultural center and its many attractions include the Birmingham Museum of Art, The Birmingham Botanical Gardens, the Birmingham Zoo and the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame. In September 1996, the Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center was founded on the campus of the UAB, home to the Alabama Symphony Orchestra as well as UAB’s Department of Music and Department of Theater and to special events throughout the year.  Across the street from the Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, the Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts, a facility that includes modern art exhibition space, is UAB’s home for the Department of Art and Art History galleries, classrooms, and faculty. Designed in association with Randall Stout, the angular, cantilevered form utilizes a simple material palette of patinaed zinc, glass, and brick in striking ways.

The city boasts James Beard Foundation Award winners and nominees and has been hailed as a culinary destination by Zagat, GQ Magazine, and others.  The housing market and cost of living are among the most affordable in the Southeast. Attractive housing choices exist in the city’s historic neighborhoods as well as in the surrounding hilly and scenic communities. Both public and private secondary schools in the area are recognized as among the nation’s best.

As the center of civil rights conflict and reconciliation, Birmingham acknowledges the impact of its past, and the diversity that continues, to characterize the city is recognized as its strength.  The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, part of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument and an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is a cultural and educational research center whose purpose is to promote a comprehensive understanding of the significance of civil rights development in Birmingham, encourage cultural awareness, and champion human rights education worldwide.

Outdoor enthusiasts will find much to like in Birmingham. Birmingham is ranked as one of the top “green” cities in the nation, home to more green space per capita than any city of its size in the country.  Birmingham’s Ruffner Mountain, ten minutes from downtown Birmingham, is the largest urban nature preserve in the country. Oak Mountain State Park, just outside of Birmingham, is the largest state park in Alabama. Hiking and biking trails abound, and Birmingham’s climate generally allows outdoor activity year-round.  Gulf Coast beaches to the south and the Appalachian mountain chain to the north provide diverse opportunities to enjoy recreation, exercise and beautiful scenery all within the state.

University Leadership

Ray L. Watts, M.D., UAB’s seventh president, is a Birmingham native and graduate of UAB with a bachelor’s degree in engineering. The collaborations he had with biomedical engineering students as an undergraduate sparked an interest in medicine and, four years later, he graduated from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis as valedictorian of his class.

Dr. Watts completed a neurology residency, medical internship, and clinical fellowships at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, followed by a two-year medical staff fellowship at the National Institutes of Health. Thereafter he joined the faculty at Emory University in Atlanta, where he was part of a team that created an internationally renowned research and clinical center for Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders.

Dr. Watts returned to UAB in 2003 as the John N. Whitaker Professor and Chairman of the Department of Neurology. He also was named president of the University of Alabama Health Services Foundation. In 2010, Dr. Watts accepted the position of Senior Vice President and Dean of the School of Medicine at UAB, and later was named to the James C. Lee Jr. Endowed Chair. Dr. Watts was named president of UAB in February 2013 by a unanimous vote of the Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama System. He initiated and is leading UAB’s most comprehensive-ever strategic planning process with campus- and community-wide partnership. During his tenure, UAB has made tremendous strides in all areas of its mission, including record enrollment and development of novel academic programs, substantial growth in research funding and the university’s international competitiveness, impactful service to the local and global community, and construction of new state-of-the-art facilities and campus beautification as part of the UAB Campus Master Plan.

Pam Benoit, Ph.D., Dr. Benoit joined UAB in 2017.  As Senior Vice President and Provost, she has been active in strategic planning, core curriculum reform, and implementation of a new budget model.  Prior to that, she was the Executive Vice President and Provost at Ohio University and the Vice Provost for Advanced Studies and Dean of the Graduate School at University of Missouri.  She is a graduate of the University of Missouri Leadership Development Program and the Higher Education Resources Services (HERS) program for women in higher education.  She currently is a board member for HERS and the Education Foundation.

Dr. Benoit received her master’s degree in communication from Central Michigan University and her Ph.D. in communication from Wayne State University. Early in her career, she served on the faculty of Bowling Green State University and the University of Missouri-Columbia, where she also held a position in the Department of Communications.

The Opportunity

The University Libraries is the intellectual heart of a vibrant campus community and, as is the rest of the campus, is in a period of exciting change.  The Dean will report to Dr. Pam Benoit who became the Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost in May 2017, as the university strategic roadmap, Forging the Future, was being developed.  The Dean plays a pivotal role in defining the Libraries’ place in that plan.  University Libraries faculty and staff are key partners in campus-wide efforts to advance teaching and learning, research partnerships, and academic support for students.  The Dean will also align and build its strengths with campus goals and within the context of dynamic information collaboration environments.  The Dean will join the University Libraries at an exciting time of opportunity to collaborate creatively across campus and beyond to advance the Libraries, advance their service mission and role as thought partner, building alliances to support and enhance the evolving needs of researchers, educators, students, users, and innovators.

The Dean of University Libraries is responsible for:

  • Working collaboratively with the Libraries faculty and staff to create and implement programmatic approaches in all aspects of the organization, enacting all aspects of the Dean of University Libraries role with integrity.
  • Connecting a vision for the Libraries with the academic priorities of the campus and a commitment to supporting excellence in all areas of the university’s mission.
  • Translating that vision into specific goals, a strategic plan, and accountability for demonstrable outcomes focused on advancing the university’s campus and college priorities.
  • Effectively communicating the vision to a variety of internal and external constituencies.
  • Fostering a user experience that promotes the highest quality service for student success.
  • Engaging in close collaboration with campus administrators and college deans as a member of the university’s senior academic leadership.
  • Attentive stewardship of resources of the Libraries with a focus on sustainability and advancement of campus priorities.
  • Establishing beneficial relationships with alumni and external constituencies.
  • Innovating with technology and responding to the needs of the Libraries and Information Science profession.
  • Fostering excellence and achievement in innovative quality outreach activities working with faculty, staff, and student success initiatives.
  • Encouraging respect for all persons in the Libraries.
  • Recruiting and retaining diverse faculty and staff toward building an inclusive culture.
Candidate Profile

The successful candidate will demonstrate the following qualities and experiences in alignment with UAB shared values of integrity, respect, diversity and inclusiveness, collaboration, excellence and achievement, stewardship, and accountability.

  • Ability to develop, enact and articulate a vision for the Libraries and strives to build for the future;
  • A love of learning and of educating others with a proven record of distinguished librarianship, scholarly achievement and professional accomplishments that would earn an appointment at the rank of full Professor at a major research university;
  • Success in leading diverse, complex teams and/or organizations that demonstrates a management style that can energize a dynamic and complex academic unit and build a cohesive team; actively seeks varied perspectives and engages others in decision making;
  • Ability to build community with experience in attracting, supporting, and cultivating an accomplished and diverse faculty and staff;
  • A record of administrative, budgetary, fundraising, program development, teaching and leadership skills that allow for the university’s ambitious goals for achieving excellence in undergraduate, graduate and professional education, creative activity, scholarship and research and public engagement to be achieved and exceeded;
  • A curious and inquiring mind with strong analytical and critical thinking skills, and the ability to organize, analyze, summarize, and effectively tailor and present initiatives to a diverse group of constituents;
  • Ability to problem solve and embrace challenge and change with a record of collaborative thought leadership and ability to create and foster an environment of interdisciplinary collaboration and leading by influence and example;
  • Ability to earn the respect, trust and cooperation of others through leadership by example, with the highest level of integrity and ethics, and respect for others;
  • A demonstrated commitment to diversity and inclusive excellence; an ability to connect with others and cultivate relationships based on mutual trust and respect, collegiality and kindness;
  • Ability to collaborate effectively with a broad range of constituencies both across the university and with external audiences;
  • Ability to develop specific goals, strategic plans, and demonstrated outcomes for the Libraries that complement and contribute to campus goals;
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills; written and presentation skills that enhance and support fundraising, public relations, and state, national, and international cooperative efforts;
  • A terminal degree appropriate for the role of Dean, such as MLS or doctorate.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham has engaged Koya Leadership Partners to help in this search. Please submit applications, expressions of interest, and nominations to Beth Schaefer and Charlotte Harris here. A pre-employment background check investigation is performed on candidates selected for employment. UAB is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer committed to fostering a diverse, equitable and family-friendly environment in which all faculty and staff can excel and achieve work/life balance irrespective of, race, national origin, age, genetic or family medical history, gender, faith, gender identity and expression as well as sexual orientation. UAB also encourages applications from individuals with disabilities and veterans.

About Koya Leadership Partners

Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained executive search and human capital consulting firm that works exclusively with higher education, nonprofits and social enterprises. We deliver measurable results, finding exceptionally talented people who truly fit the unique culture of our client organizations and ensuring that organizations have the resources and strategies to support them. For more information about Koya Leadership Partners, visit