School of Information Names New Interim Director
The College of Communication and Information at Kent State University is proud to announce Meghan Harper, Ph.D., as Interim Director of the School of Information as of July 1. Harper previously served as the Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program coordinator as well as the school library media concentration coordinator.
“Because I have had the pleasure of working directly with Dr. Harper on several initiatives over the years, I have seen her terrific leadership skills in action. What I appreciate most about Dr. Harper’s leadership approach is her commitment to the ethic of care. She builds strong relationships with and between students, faculty, staff and our programs, and we are all better as a result,” said Amy Reynolds, Dean of the College of Communication and Information.
For Harper, Kent State University was the institution where she could combine her unique academic interests: instructional technology and curriculum and instruction. She first received her bachelor of science in elementary education (with licensure in K-8 elementary education) from Kent State in 1990, following up the next year with her MLIS and K-12 licensure in school library media. "Each time I wanted to pursue a program of study...Kent State University was the only one," Harper said. In 2003, she completed her doctorate in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis on instructional technology.
Over the next decade, Harper put her education to work as an elementary, middle and high school librarian before moving into an administrative role in a northeastern Ohio school district. The appeal of Kent State was too strong to resist, and in 2001 she joined the faculty in the then-named School of Library and Information Science as an assistant professor and as the coordinator of the school library program.
In addition to the courses she has taught on school librarianship and youth services, Harper has also served on and co-directs the Virginia Hamilton Multicultural Literature Conference Advisory Board. The Virginia Hamilton Conference is the longest running event in the United States focused exclusively on multicultural literature for children and young adults.
Harper’s research on trauma-informed services and an ethic of care has been presented to and used by libraries across the state of Ohio as well as at national and international conferences.
"As a researcher who studies trauma informed care and institutional commitment to the ethic of care, I value [the University's student-centered pandemic response] highly," Harper said. With all of its programs delivered online for years, the iSchool has offered guidance and advice to other Kent State programs transitioning to online and remote instruction.
It is in the intersection of information, communication and technology fields that Harper sees the iSchool playing a leadership role. "I believe the programs of study we offer in our School of Information prepare students for unlimited career possibilities," Harper said. "Information and communication are essential aspects of most professions and students have almost limitless opportunities to use the skills and knowledge they have gained in this professional preparation program to immediately begin contributing in an information environment which is not discipline specific."
She is a member of several International Associations and serves on the Reading and Literacy committee of the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) and the International Association of School Librarianship (IASL). Nationally, she is active in the American Library Association (ALA) and its divisions, the American Association of School Librarians, (AASL), Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) and Young Adult Library Services Association, (YALSA). She also serves on multiple national and state committees, including the Buckeye Children’s and Teens Book Award.
Harper has published numerous articles, chapters, manuscripts and reviews relating to her research interests, which include school library administration, facility design, multiliteracies, care-based practices, electronic portfolios, cataloging, evaluation and assessment. Harper is also the author of Reference Sources and Services for Youth. She received the Presidential Award from the Ohio Educational Library Media Association in 2013.
The School of Information at Kent State University has evolved over its 70+ year history to serve the ever-changing needs of information professionals and organizations that employ them. The largest graduate degree program at the University, the school boasts a faculty of world-renowned researchers and offers five different master’s degree programs entirely online.