Kent State’s School of Information Announces First Illustrator-in-Residence

Award-winning picture book illustrator and author Will Hillenbrand has been named the first illustrator-in-residence and the second writer-in-residence for Kent State University’s School of Information (iSchool).

As the author/illustrator of more than 60 children’s picture books, Hillenbrand has won numerous prestigious awards, including the Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators, International Reading Association Children’s Choice Awards and an American Library Association Notable Book Award.Will Hillenbrand

Hillenbrand was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, as the youngest of four boys, and grew up listening to stories both at home and in the family-owned barber shop. His mother says he was born with a pencil in his hand, but his first experience with formal art education did not happen until his sophomore year of high school. Hillenbrand continued studying art at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, and after graduation, worked in advertising. But after taking an art class at the Ohio State University, Hillenbrand’s professional life took a U-turn.

The late Kenneth Marantz, Ph.D., a former art professor at Ohio State University and book reviewer, was a devoted advocate for artists of picture books. Marantz had a huge influence on the life of Hillenbrand, and what began as a student-teacher relationship, turned into a more than 30-year friendship.

This is what makes Hillenbrand’s role as the new writer- and illustrator-in-residence a special one. The Kent State School of Information’s Reinberger Children’s Library Center is a collection of children’s literature, one of which is the Marantz Picturebook Collection for the Study of Picturebook Art. The Marantz Collection was a gift from Marantz and his wife, Sylvia, and represents their lifelong devotion to the study of picturebook art.

“I am very excited, honored and happy with my new role with Kent State,” Hillenbrand says of his new role. “My head is full of pictures, my heart is full of story and my spirit is full of song … now they will play themselves out here at Kent State.”

In his role as writer- and illustrator-in-residence, Hillenbrand will use the Reinberger Children's Library Center's collections for inspiration for his own work. Hillenbrand will offer his expertise to Kent State students, as he participates in workshops, the 2018 Virginia Hamilton Conference, the 2018 Marantz Picturebook Research Symposium (MPRS), guest lectures, student groups and various other activities connecting Hillenbrand’s work to the larger university community.

“We are so honored and pleased to host a writer and illustrator of the caliber of Mr. Hillenbrand,” says Kendra Albright, Ph.D., director of Kent State's School of Information. “He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to share with our students, and we look forward to our continuing relationship with such a wonderful author.” 

The School of Information has the largest graduate program at Kent State, with more than 800 students enrolled. In addition, the school participates in an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in the College of Communication and Information. Each year, the school offers two research fellowships connected to the Reinberger Children’s Library Center. The Marantz Fellowship (supported by Kenneth and Sylvia Marantz) is designed to encourage scholars from the United States and around the world to use the resources of the Marantz Picturebook Collection for the Study of Picturebook Art in their research. The Albers Fellowship was created by School of Information alumna Jacqueline M. Albers, M.L.S. ’94, to establish an endowment for a guest scholar to study children’s literature using the collections in the Reinberger Children’s Library Center.

For more information about the Reinberger Children’s Library Center, contact Michelle Baldini, director of the center, at

POSTED: Thursday, August 24, 2017 03:10 PM
Updated: Friday, September 1, 2017 10:28 AM