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February 4, 2016

SIS dean to step down

DeanLarsonRon Larsen, dean of the School of Information Sciences (SIS) since 2002, will step down from his position and return to teaching and research in 2017.

In a University press release, Provost Patricia E. Beeson said of Larsen: “Under his leadership, SIS has been transformed from a departmentalized faculty to a unified information school. The reorganized school creates an environment conducive to collaborative research and education among SIS faculty and between SIS faculty and scholars outside the school. Under his leadership, the school’s programs have grown and their reputation expanded, with several program specializations ranked among the very best in the country, and external funding to the school’s faculty has tripled during his tenure as dean.”

Larsen currently is coordinating a major reorganization of the University’s data, information and computing programs in collaboration with Taieb Znati, chair of the Department of Computer Science. Under their leadership, SIS and computer science faculty are developing a proposal to incorporate the two in a single academic and administrative unit.

In 2003, Larsen and the deans of information schools at Syracuse, Drexel, the University of Washington and the University of Michigan began meeting to share experiences in shaping the evolution of their schools. By 2005, that fledgling organization had grown to include 10 North American universities. At that point, Larsen helped found the iSchools consortium, which has since expanded to include 65 universities on five continents and which hosts an annual international conference.

Larsen earned his PhD in computer science from the University of Maryland-College Park, his master’s degree in applied physics at The Catholic University of America and a bachelor’s degree in engineering sciences from Purdue.

He spent his early career at NASA as a mathematician, an aerospace technologist and a program manager.

After earning his PhD, he joined the faculty at the University of Maryland-College Park, where he assumed several administrative roles. He also served as executive director of the Maryland Applied Information Technology Initiative, a consortium of 50 departments in nine universities working to expand the pipeline of graduates in information technology.

During his tenure at Maryland, Larsen also worked at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) as assistant director of the information technology office.

A search committee will be formed this summer to identify Larsen’s successor.

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