Chris Cox leaving as WWU dean of libraries
Chris Cox will be leaving his position as dean of libraries at Western Washington University by late August to take the Dean of Library Services position at the University of Northern Iowa.
“Northern Iowa’s gain is our loss. Dean Cox has done exceptional work for our library, for the community, and for libraries throughout the Northwest. He will be sorely missed, but the many legacies of his work will remain with us,” said Western Provost Catherine Riordan.
A national search for Cox’s successor will begin in early fall, Riordan said.
Cox began as Dean of Libraries at Western in 2008. Before coming to Western he served as assistant director of Libraries and was previously interim director of Libraries of McIntyre Library at the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire.
”I’ve very much enjoyed my time at Western. The Libraries’ staff, Western’s students and faculty, and my peers in Whatcom County and in the Orbis Cascade Alliance have all been great to work with. We’ve done incredible things, and the library is now more integral to teaching and learning. I’m looking forward to transitioning to Northern Iowa where new and exciting opportunities await,” Cox said.
Under his leadership at Western, the Libraries completed a number of innovative projects, including co-locating educational partners in the library to create a learning commons to aid students in the integration and creation of knowledge. Western’s learning commons consists of the student technology center, which assists students in the creation of audio and video, the writing center, the tutoring center, the teaching learning academy, and the popular Zoe’s bagel cafe.
Less noticeable to most users are the creative ways Cox worked with users and the Faculty Senate Library Committee to protect core services threatened by the state’s disinvestment in higher education, Riordan said. Through statewide partnerships, consolidation and alignment of services, and digitization, Western was able to maintain access to virtually all critical reference materials for Western students and faculty.
At the same time Cox maintained a focus on the future. The lecture series hosted by libraries this year –“Redefining the Academic Library” – was an outstanding example of Cox’s collaborative approach to leadership that library faculty, staff, and friends are committed to moving forward in this period of transition, Riordan said.
Cox also led efforts to strengthen partnerships and community outreach. Thanks to Western participation in Whatcom Reads!, a successful community reading program, the leaders of Western and area community, technical and tribal colleges, as well as all the Bellingham Public Library and Whatcom County Library System, began meeting to share experiences.
Out of these meetings came the idea for the Whatcom One Card program. Utilizing existing courier services, community members can now borrow items from any library in the county and return to them to any library book drop. Residents in the county can search one catalog to find what each of has, and students and faculty can pick up items requested from area public libraries on their campuses.
Western's dean of libraries is responsible for the overall leadership, management and direction of the libraries and their programs.