The Indiana University Board of Trustees has approved the merger of the university’s School of Informatics and Computing and School of Library and Information Science into a single school to be called the IU School of Informatics and Computing and Computing.
Indiana University School of Library and Information Science Dean Debora Shaw and School of Informatics and Computing and Computing Dean Bobby Schnabel said the merger would provide new and significant opportunities for expanding research and education.
The change will affect schools at both the Bloomington and IUPUI campuses and is being heralded by IU President Michael A. McRobbie and administrators at both schools as an opportunity to create a single school of expanded breadth, size and quality that addresses the rapid evolution of informatics, computing and libraries.
“The study of information and computation has become more closely linked and important than ever,” McRobbie said. “Combining these two high-quality, highly ranked schools will create a single unit that can compete more effectively with the best schools in the world in this area.
“The new school will also create excellent opportunities for new initiatives that are being pursued immediately, including a new cutting-edge program in big data science, an initiative in network science, strengthened collaborations and emphasis in health informatics, and the revitalization of IU’s leadership role in social informatics.”
Demand for trained professionals in computing and informatics is expected to continue, and the need for librarians and information professionals is shifting to graduates with skills in digital curation and preservation, e-science and user-systems interaction, emphasizing the importance of a strong technological base, McRobbie noted.
“By placing these programs in a combined culture where rapid change is expected to be the norm, IU is provided with an excellent opportunity to contribute in a broader sphere at the confluence of information and computing,” he said. “Deans (Bobby) Schnabel and (Debora) Shaw are to be congratulated on developing an excellent proposal after an extensive process of discussion and consideration, and in particular for obtaining such enthusiastic support of an overwhelming number of faculty.”
With the only school in the U.S., and most likely the world, that educates and conducts research in everything from computer science and cybersecurity to network science and large-scale data, the new school is expected to broaden perspectives that will ultimately benefit students, faculty and future users of information technology and libraries.
Informatics’ Schnabel and library and information science’s Shaw agreed that new and significant opportunities exist for expanding collaborations and for bringing new and expanded curricula to undergraduate and graduate students.
“A myriad of important current and emerging areas stand to benefit from the combined school’s expertise in information and computing, enhancing IU’s ability to offer undergraduate and graduate education and to conduct leading-edge research,” Schnabel said. “To date, these interactions have been primarily focused on research, but significant opportunities exist for expanding these collaborations to the benefit of all students.”
Increased interaction in the areas of big data science, health informatics, human computer interaction, media sciences, network science and social informatics is expected, Schnabel and Shaw said, and new initiatives are already being anticipated, including a new curricular emphasis in data science, a university-wide institute in network science, and a focus on expanding the Rob Kling Center for Social Informatics, already a joint venture between the two schools
“Merging the two schools helps address issues of the pace of change in information and communication technologies,” Shaw said. “It also helps prepare students in our graduate-level information and library science programs for careers that increasingly require technical skills and sophisticated understanding of the effective uses of technology.”
The School of Library and Information Science is consistently among the top 10 (seventh in the most recent rankings) in the U.S. News and World Report rankings, and an outside analysis of information and library science journals found IU second, behind Harvard University, in the impact of its publications. The Bloomington and IUPUI campuses combined have 455 graduate students and 26 faculty members this fall; the school does not have an undergraduate program.
The School of Informatics and Computing, the first of its kind in the country, was founded as a core school in 2000 and introduced the nation’s first Ph.D. in informatics. The school, which has 1,490 undergraduate students and 892 graduate students this fall at both campuses, is an international research leader in areas including bioinformatics, complex networks and systems, cyber-infrastructure, data and search, human-computer interaction, networks and systems, programming languages and security and privacy. It has 110 faculty members.