Website celebrates achievements of University of Illinois women

Linda C Smith
Linda C Smith, Professor and Executive Associate Dean

A new website celebrating the accomplishments that women have made during the University of Illinois' 150-year history includes three women with iSchool connections.

The website, 150 for 150: Celebrating the Accomplishments of Women at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is part of the U of I's sesquicentennial celebration. The website highlights women who have made significant achievements as students, faculty members, staff, or alumni. It is a collaboration of the Gender Equity Council, whose mission is to foster a gender-equitable and inclusive climate for faculty, and the University Library.

Cindy Ingold, gender and multicultural services librarian and chair of the Gender Equity Council, oversaw the project. She said the women were selected through nominations; through research in the University Archives; and in consultation with experts on the history of the University, including archivists and Professor Emeritus Winton Solberg.

The accomplishments of the women featured include leadership, pioneering achievements, and distinguished service in careers both within and outside the University community. The website is divided by decades and includes a description of each woman's achievements. Ingold said many of the women were early champions for the inclusion of more women in their fields.

The iSchool women featured on the website include:

Katharine Lucinda Sharp completed her library science degree at the New York State Library School in 1892 under the tutelage of Melvil Dewey, creator of the Dewey Decimal system of library classification. At the recommendation of Dewey, Katharine served as founding director and university librarian for the first library science program in the Midwest at the Armour Institute in Chicago in 1893. Four years later, the program moved to Urbana and was renamed the Illinois State Library School. Katharine created the first curriculum and built a firm foundation for the school, establishing a program of excellence that remains to this day.

Linda C. Smith (MS '72) received her PhD from the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University in 1979. Linda returned to the iSchool as an assistant professor in 1977. Currently a full professor, she has served as interim dean and acting dean for the School and has been associate dean for academic programs since 1997. Linda has held positions in many professional organizations, including serving as president of both the Association for Information Science and Technology and the Association for Library and Information Science Education.

Lian Ruan (MS '90, PhD '11) joined the University of Illinois in 1999, becoming the head librarian of the Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI). Beginning in 2005, Lian has led the IFSI Chinese Librarians Scholarly Exchange Program which has trained more than 340 librarians from all over China. Her awards include the Chancellor’s Academic Professional Excellence Award and the Illinois Academic Librarian of the Year Award. 

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