“Our libraries play a central role in Washington University’s mission by providing book and electronic resources to researchers and creating space for contemplation and study,” Thorp said. “Denise Stephens will advance that mission through her vast experience developing programs, shepherding capital projects, acquiring scholarly materials and engaging in campus life.”
Stephens will manage University Libraries’ nine locations, the system’s vast archives and special collections, and 156 professional and support staff.
She also will oversee the continued construction of the reimagined John M. Olin Library, which is slated to debut in spring 2018. The transformed Olin Library will provide new spaces for study and exploration, enhanced technology, a new north entrance, a vault to house the university’s growing special collections and an exhibition space, which will display a rare copy of the Declaration of Independence.
“I am excited and honored to join Washington University as the next leader of its premier research libraries,” Stephens said. “The Libraries have a strong history of commitment to excellence in both preserving the enduring scholarly record and delivering the innovations required to serve diverse and evolving scholar communities. I look forward to working with a talented library organization, an engaged faculty, and a supportive administration to further develop and expand this dynamic information environment in the years ahead.”
During her five years at UCSB, Stephens planned and executed the $80 million expansion and renovation of the university’s library. She also managed a collection of nearly 10 million books, e-books, electronic journals and digital objects. In addition, she developed a scholarly communications program and launched the Intradisciplinary Research Collaboratory, which supports data-centric study and research projects.
During her tenure as university librarian, Stephens also served two years as interim chief information officer. In that role, she implemented a central information technology services division responsible for the campus network, IT security, telecommunications and other functions.
Prior to UCSB, Stephens worked at the University of Kansas, where she held positions as strategic and organizational research librarian, information management coordinator and vice provost for information services. She also served as a librarian at Syracuse University, the University of Virginia and the University of Oklahoma. Stephens earned both her undergraduate degree and master of library and information science from the University of Oklahoma.
Stephens was selected by a 13-member search committee, led by Carmon Colangelo, the Ralph J. Nagel Dean of the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts. Marion Crain, vice provost and the Wiley B. Rutledge Professor of Law, has served as the interim leader of University Libraries since August.
“I would like to thank Marion Crain for her service to University Libraries this past semester,” Thorp said. “The work of the libraries never slows; Marion kept us on pace, providing excellent leadership to the staff and vital resources to students, faculty and the community.”