McDowell named interim associate dean for academic affairs

Kate McDowell
Kate McDowell, Associate Professor and Interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs

Associate Professor Kate McDowell (MS '99, PhD '07) has been named interim associate dean for academic affairs, effective immediately. In this new role, she provides leadership and oversight for academic programs, including program development, curriculum coordination, and continuous improvement of educational experiences. 

The new position enhances the iSchool's organizational structure, providing an additional level of administration as student enrollment continues to grow. It facilitates communication and collaboration through the coordination of program directors, student affairs, and all School resources related to academic affairs.

"It is a great honor to coordinate academic programs across the iSchool. For the next two years, I plan to work on stabilizing and improving our current offerings while continuing to grow our academic impact," said McDowell.

McDowell's administrative background includes two years of service as the School's Assistant Dean for Student Affairs (2014-2016). During this time, she led a process of change management to revise key elements of student services, including the redesign of staff roles and responsibilities as well as improvement in practices and communications.

Her contributions to the iSchool also include planning and evaluation in multiple roles, from enhancing the Leep online master's program and implementing the new MS in information management to collaboratively leading planning for the School's name change. Her experience includes membership in several committees at the iSchool and across campus, including leadership as the admissions committee chair, and extensive involvement in the ALA accreditation process.

"We are fortunate indeed to have such an experienced iSchool academic leader ready to help guide us through this challenging period of rapid growth and innovation in curriculum and administration," said Dean Allen Renear. "There could not be a better person for this role, and I am looking forward to the exciting changes ahead."

A member of the faculty since 2007, McDowell is the 2018 recipient of the University's Excellence in Online and Distance Teaching Award and is consistently included on the University's List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent. She is an expert in the area of storytelling practices and applications in higher education, nonprofits, and business, and serves as storytelling consultant to the campus. She also researches and publishes in the areas of youth services librarianship, children's print culture history, and public libraries as cultural spaces. McDowell holds both an MS and PhD in library and information science from the iSchool at Illinois.