James Hilton leaving library role to focus on academic innovation


James Hilton, the University of Michigan’s vice provost for academic innovation and university librarian-dean of libraries, will step down from his library role June 30 to more sharply focus on the university’s expanding academic innovation effort in the vice provost role.

James Hilton

In a message to his library colleagues announcing the move, Hilton said the shift, with one year remaining on his library appointment, will allow the university to hire a new dean of libraries with a sustained commitment for many years to come.

Provost Susan M. Collins commended Hilton for his overall leadership and said a national search for a new university librarian-dean of libraries would launch during the winter term. She is seeking recommendations for membership on a search advisory committee and for that panel’s leadership.

“I commend James for his visionary approach and extensive efforts related to academic innovation. We are, indeed, fortunate that he will remain at Michigan and keep leading us into the future in this critical area,” Collins said.

Hilton said he has always considered the library to be the heart of campus, primarily because of the dedicated staff.

“For nine years we have worked together on an aspirational journey to ensure that the library is a culture and place of sustained and supported innovation,” Hilton wrote to his library colleagues.


“We have collaborated to be indispensable partners in the world-changing work of the university with the library as the platform that enables discovery, teaching, learning, health, invention and creative expression. It is an honor to be in your company and a privilege to serve as your dean.”

Before returning to U-M in 2013, Hilton was vice president and chief information officer at the University of Virginia from 2006-13. From 2001-06, he was associate provost for academic information and instructional technology affairs at U-M.

Collins thanked Hilton for his dedication to the important mission of the libraries and “offering services that represent a great 21st century public research library.”

Over his nearly decade of service to U-M, Collins said, Hilton had led the development of digital scholarship services, increased the awareness of and access to U-M faculty research, piloted new models of sustainable open-access publishing, furthered the potential for cooperative collection sharing, preservation and collaboration, and increased the organization’s focus on redressing issues of bias and racism.

Collins said she would meet soon with members of the Library Council to discuss the search process and she invited library staff and others to share feedback through a survey form on key issues, attributes of a new university librarian-dean of libraries, nominations for the search advisory committee, and thoughts on who might chair the search advisory committee.

Additional feedback and questions may be sent by email to librarian-dean-search@umich.edu.


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