WMU News

Reish selected as dean of University Libraries

Sept. 19, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University has chosen Dr. Joseph G. Reish to permanently assume the role of dean of University Libraries.

Reish has been serving as interim dean of libraries since July 2000, in addition to his responsibilities at the Carl and Winifred Lee Honors College, where he had been dean since 1993. He replaces Dr. Lance Query, who resigned in 2000. The move is effective July 1, pending approval by the WMU Board of Trustees. Reish has concluded his duties at the honors college, which is expected to launch a search for its new dean this fall.

"Dr. Reish has done an exemplary job leading the libraries these past two years, and I was delighted when he accepted my invitation to assume the position permanently," said WMU President Elson S. Floyd. "As a scholar, faculty member and experienced dean, he understands the role libraries play in a major research institution, and this made him an ideal choice for this post."

Reish joined the WMU faculty in 1972 and continues to hold a concurrent appointment as a professor of French in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures. In 1983-84 and again from 1986 to 1988, he served as head of that department's French section. He assumed the post of assistant director of the honors college in 1987 and became associate dean one year later. In 1992, he was named interim dean of the Lee Honors College and permanently assumed that post in 1993. While an administrator in the honors college, Reish saw the college through two capital campaigns, construction of a new building and its 10th anniversary celebration.

In his new deanship, Reish will oversee Waldo Library and four other units on WMU's main campus: the visual resources and education libraries in Sangren Hall, the music and dance library in the Dorothy U. Dalton Center, and the archives and regional history collection in East Hall. The library work force includes 61 staff members, a faculty of 27 and some 200 student workers.

Reish's major responsibilities will include completing a strategic plan for the University Libraries, which will likely include an assessment of operations and facilities. Reish also expects much of his efforts to focus on staying at the cutting edge of trends in library automation.

"The libraries are a support unit for the University as a whole," says Reish. "We must be welcoming and accessible to both undergraduate and graduate students as well as faculty and staff, providing them with the wide-ranging resources they need to carry out their research.

"Although I am sorry to leave the honors college, I'm excited about this venture and relish the chance to use my administrative skills in a new way to serve the University. I worked in the Georgetown University library as an undergraduate and have done intensive research in some of the best libraries in the world, including the Library of Congress and the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. Libraries hold a very special place in my heart."

Prior to coming to WMU, Reish taught at Butler University, the University of Wisconsin and St. Joseph's College. He earned a bachelor's degree from Georgetown University in 1966 and a master's degree in French language and literature at a Middlebury College program in Paris in 1967. Five years later, he earned his doctoral degree in 18th century French literature from the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

Reish has been an active scholar of 18th century French literature, and has continued to teach both that subject and English literature. In 1994, the French government made him a "chevalier," or knight in the Order of Academic Palms, for his work in furthering the study of French language and culture.

At WMU, Reish has worked on a variety of committees and recently served as chairperson of dean searches in the colleges of Fine Arts and Aviation. He has been active in the honors community nationally, serving as chair of the Study Abroad Committee of the National Collegiate Honors Council and as a member of its Pre-College Education of the Gifted Committee. Reish also served on the Michigan Department of Education's University Network for Gifted and Talented and has held leadership positions with the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, the Michigan Honors Association and the Mideast Honors Association.

Media contact: Jessica English, 269 387-8400, jessica.english@wmich.edu

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