Dean Larsen to Step Down from Leadership Role

Issue Date: 
February 15, 2016

Ron Larsen, dean of the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Information Sciences (SIS), has announced his intention to step down from his position and return to teaching and research in the summer of 2017.

Ron LarsenLarsen, who spent 15 years as an administrator, earned his PhD in computer science from the University of Maryland, College Park, in 1981, his master’s degree in applied physics at The Catholic University of America in 1971, and a bachelor’s degree in engineering sciences from Purdue University in 1968. The University of Pittsburgh recruited Larsen as dean in 2002.

“Ron has served as dean during a time of immense change in the field of information sciences, and Ron’s visionary leadership of SIS during this time has been an essential component of the school’s success,” said Patricia E. Beeson, provost and senior vice chancellor. “Under his leadership, SIS has been transformed from a departmentalized faculty to a unified information school. The reorganized school creates an environment conducive to collaborative research and education among SIS faculty and between SIS faculty and scholars outside the school. The school’s programs have grown and their reputation expanded, with several program specializations ranked among the very best in the country, and external funding to the school’s faculty has tripled during his tenure as dean.”

Larsen is currently coordinating the next major reorganization of the University’s data, information, and computing programs in collaboration with the chair of the Department of Computer Science, Taieb Znati. Guided by this shared leadership, SIS and the computer science department faculty are developing a proposal for a new academic unit that will incorporate both faculties into a single academic and administrative unit. The goal is to consolidate academic programs, capitalize on existing strengths, enhance collaborations, and create an intellectual hub for computing and information sciences at Pitt.

During his tenure as dean of SIS, Larsen joined four other deans of major information schools (Syracuse University, Drexel University, the University of Washington, and the University of Michigan) in 2003 to meet regularly to share experiences in shaping the evolution of their schools. By 2005, that fledgling organization had grown to include 10 North American universities. At that point, Larsen helped found the iSchools consortium, which has since grown to include 65 universities on five continents and which hosts an annual international conference.

“It has been a pleasure to work with Ron, both in his role as director of SIS and as a member of the Council of Deans,” Beeson said. “His vision, leadership, and commitment to the University’s broader goals have been an indispensable part of Pitt’s recent progress over the last fifteen years, and he will be deeply missed.”

A search committee will be formed this summer to identify Larsen’s successor.