SMU CUL Dean Gillian McCombs announces her retirement, effective summer 2017

Central University Libraries

SMU CUL Dean Gillian McCombs announces her retirement, effective summer 2017

Gillian M. McCombs, Dean and Director, SMU Central University LibrariesGillian McCombs, dean and director of SMU’s Central University Libraries, has announced her retirement from that position effective in summer 2017.

SMU Provost Steven Currall will announce the timeframe for the search for a new permanent dean and director this fall.

McCombs joined SMU in 1998 and guided the University’s central library system through a transformation of resources, facilities and services in response to changing student and faculty needs. One of the most visible examples of her leadership is the Fondren Library Center renovation. The Fondren Foundation Centennial Reading Room and new Hillcrest Foundation Exhibit Hall opened April 15, marking the completion of the first phase. The final phase includes a Starbucks Café and Collaborative Commons, which will open with a student-centered celebration in September 2016.

> SMU News: SMU celebrates Fondren Library transformation

“Great libraries are the heart of the University, and at the heart of Dean McCombs’ leadership of SMU Central University Libraries has been an unwavering focus on our library users’ evolving needs, particularly those of our students,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “A prime example is the CUL Student Advisory Council she created to provide the student perspective as library staff shapes programs, services and spaces that enhance the user experience and support academic achievement. Gillian has been a passionate advocate for CUL, and we are grateful for her many contributions to the University.”

McCombs oversees three libraries on the main campus – Fondren Library Center, including the Norwick Center for Digital Services; DeGolyer Library, SMU’s principal repository for special collections in the humanities, the history of business, and the history of science and technology; and the Hamon Arts Library in Meadows School of the Arts – as well as the Fort Burgwin Library at SMU-in-Taos and the SMU-in-Plano Library Resource Room.

“Dean McCombs has had a longstanding and distinguished career leading Central University Libraries at SMU. In addition to being an insightful voice about advancing libraries at SMU, Gillian is a globally recognized intellectual leader about the future of libraries, digitization of documents, and the creative use of library buildings to foster innovation and interdisciplinary collaboration,” said SMU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Steven Currall. “One of the crowning achievements of her career was the recent renovation of SMU’s Fondren Library to ensure that it meets the current and future needs of SMU faculty and students. Gillian has been an inspiring leader of the CUL staff, a true academic partner with SMU’s other deans, and an invaluable colleague in advancing SMU.”

Among her SMU career highlights:

  • McCombs led CUL’s observance of the University’s Year of the Library in 2013, joining SMU President R. Gerald Turner in welcoming the acquisition of American explorer John Maley’s travel journal (1808-1812) that represented the libraries’ four-millionth volume. The gift was made by the SMU Board of Trustees in honor of former President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush and the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Center.
  • She launched a digital collections initiative, which now numbers 51 collections comprising 50,000 images, documents, videos and other materials from SMU’s special collections, all available to the public online. CUL also scaled up its delivery of e-resources and now provides access to over one million e-books and 75,000 e-journals.
  • As dean and director, she guided CUL’s participation in several major collaborative ventures including the Greater Western Library Alliance’s Occam’s Reader Project, a groundbreaking e-book pilot program; the Association of College and Research Libraries’ three-year research initiative studying the impact of academic libraries on student achievement; and a partnership with the George W. Bush Presidential Library and the Mount Vernon Ladies Association to bring George Washington’s personal copy of The Acts of Congress to campus.

Throughout her service to SMU, McCombs has published extensively in the areas of organizational culture, technology and digital services, leadership and management, fundraising and historical children’s literature. She has won numerous awards in the library profession and serves on the editorial board of portal: Libraries and the Academy, a research journal focused on the evolving role of academic libraries and librarians.

Her professional affiliations include membership on the Greater Western Library Alliance Board of Directors. She has represented the United States on the International Federation of Libraries Association, Academic Libraries standing committee and has served on numerous committees and advisory boards of the American Library Association. In North Texas she has served on the Dallas Museum of Art’s Libraries, Archives and Imaging Services Committee, the University of North Texas School of Library and Information Sciences Board of Advisors and the Texas Woman’s University School of Library and Information Studies External Constituent Board.

McCombs began her professional career in England as the music librarian at Huddersfield Public Library in her native Yorkshire. Her career in the United States started in Washington, D.C., where she worked at the Landscape Architecture and Garden Library at Dumbarton Oaks, as well as such federal libraries as the National Library of Medicine, the Federal Reserve, and the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Prior to joining SMU, she served as assistant director of technical services and systems for 16 years at the University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY), where she earned a master’s degree in public administration.

McCombs received a bachelor’s degree in French and European literature (honors) from the University of Warwick and a master’s degree from the Leeds School of Librarianship in England.

August 2, 2016|For the Record, News|

SMU celebrates Founders’ Day Weekend 2016 April 15-16

Peruna mascot at SMU Founders Day 2015SMU Founders’ Day Weekend will kick-start the University’s second century April 15-16, 2016 with a celebration of renovated library facilities, a new book on SMU history, the dedication of a new campus walkway, and a Mustang-sized finale to the Second Century Campaign.

Saturday’s community activities will include faculty talks at Inside SMU, opportunities to explore and create at the Meadows Museum, and an afternoon of fandom and Mustang football.

> Read the full story from SMU News

“We look forward to celebrating our beginnings at Founders Day each year, but in 2016 we also celebrate a very happy ending – the April 15 finale of the $1.15 billion fundraising campaign that has changed the trajectory of SMU,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “All of the opportunities the campaign has opened for SMU ultimately become community assets that we want to share.  We hope our North Texas neighbors will come explore the Hilltop and enjoy Community Day with us on April 16.”

FRIDAY, APRIL 15

• SMU will celebrate the renovation of Fondren Library, including the Fondren Foundation Centennial Reading Room, at 12:30 p.m. Friday.

• A 1 p.m. open house will honor the release of the new book from SMU historian Darwin Payne ’68One Hundred Years on the Hilltop: The Centennial History of Southern Methodist University.  Signed copies are available for order online and will be shipped to purchasers after Founders’ Day Weekend.

• At 6 p.m., the University will celebrate the campaign finale on the South Plaza of the Hughes-Trigg Student Center with a salute to the campaign’s major and leadership donors, the dedication of the Crain Family Centennial Promenade and the unveiling of a campaign major donor monument, including plaques listing major donors to the Second Century Campaign. During the reception that follows, guests can stroll the promenade and view their engraved pavers.

Read some of the stories behind the Crain Family Centennial Promenade bricks

• The day ends with Sing Song, the annual musical theater performance competition for SMU students hosted by SMU Program Council.  Scheduled for 8 p.m. in McFarlin Auditorium, the performances are centered on this year’s theme of “Twisted Tales.”  Tickets are available online.

> Celebrate Peruna’s Birthday during Founders’ Day Weekend 2016, Friday, April 15

SATURDAY, APRIL 16 – SMU COMMUNITY DAY

All SMU Community day activities are open to the public.

Guitarist in Meadows Museum, SMU Founders' Day 2015Inside SMU, scheduled for 8:30 a.m.-noon in Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Hall, is a full morning of topical discussions delivered by SMU faculty and students. The plenary session at 9 a.m. features Darwin Payne ’68, SMU historian and professor emeritus of communications, sharing “Ten Stories You Should Know about SMU.”

Community Day at the Meadows Museum is from 10-1 p.m. and will enable visitors to explore its Salvador Dali exhibit, as well as participate in special activities for children.

SMU Athletics hosts afternoon events at Gerald J. Ford Stadium: Mustang Fan Fair begins at noon with inflatables and food trucks, followed by the SMU Spring Football Game at 1 p.m.

See the full schedule and register for activities

— Kimberly Cobb

April 13, 2016|Calendar Highlights, News, Save the Date|

Calendar Highlights: Mustang Must-do’s for Dec. 4, 2015

Meadows Chamber Music Honors Concert: The chamber music program presents a dynamic, varied, passionate performance of jury-selected wind, brass, piano and string ensembles. Come hear these students showcasing the results of a semester of intense, peer-driven collaborative work. The event is on Saturday, Dec. 5 at 7:30 p.m in Caruth Auditorium and is free and open to the public.

Is ForensicScreen shot 2015-12-04 at 1.51.39 PM Science an Oxymoron?: Forensic science evidence (e.g., fingerprints, DNA, microscopic hair, & bite marks) is widely believed to provide powerful proof of identity in both criminal and civil trials. But in recent years, forensic scientists in some areas have been taken to task for overclaiming, failing to test their assumptions, and neglecting to explain to judges and jurors how the risk of error affects the value of reported matches. Solutions will be explored by professor Jonathan Koehler, professor at Northwestern University School of Law, on Monday, Dec. 7 at 12:15 p.m. This event will be in 153 Heroy Halland is free and open to the public. Lunch will be provided. R.S.V.P. at lawandstatistics.eventbrite.com or 214-768-3527.

Learn more about Jonathen Koehler

The Science of Listening to Music: On Monday, Dec. 7, Professor Elizabeth Margulis, director of the Music Cognition Lab at the University of Arkansas, will examine the interface between science and music by using a series of the Lab’s recent experiments. The event will  begin at 4:30 p.m. in 2020 Owen Arts Center. For more information, click here.

Christmas and Crêpes: Come join the SMU Wesley Foundation at 3220 Daniel Avenue for crêpes, coffee, community, and Christmas music on Monday, Dec. 7 from 8 – 9:30 p.m.

Student Film Association Fall Film Festival: The Student Filmmakers’ Association will host their annual fall film festival showcasing the best recent short works created by SMU students. The festival is free and open to the public and will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. at the Angelika Film Center in Mockingbird Station.

Paws and Take a Break: A team of registered therapy dogs from the A New Leash on Life group will visit the Taubman Atrium on Wednesday, Dec. 9, hosted by Hamon Arts Library. Research has shown that spending 5-24 minutes with a calm dog reduces blood pressure and the levels of stress hormones in the body. Come visit with a certified therapy dog from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.!

Therapy Dogs at Fondren

December 4, 2015|Calendar Highlights|

Central University Libraries’ 2015 Food for Fines program continues through Wednesday, Dec. 16

Stock photo of canned foodsSMU’s Central University Libraries (CUL) is once again giving students, faculty and staff members an opportunity to help the community – and possibly save some cash as well.

During the 2015 Food for Fines program, CUL will accept food donations for the North Texas Food Bank in return for waiving library fines.

For every donation of a can or package of nonperishable food, SMU faculty, staff members and students will receive a $2 credit toward fines for overdue materials from Fondren Library Center and the Hamon Arts Library.

Learn more about the North Texas Food Bank

To collect your credits, just bring food donations to either of these libraries through Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015. All SMU community members are welcome to participate – even those who have no library fines to cancel. Last year, the SMU community donated 374 cans, equaling $748 in waived library fines.

The Food for Fines program began in 2000 as a way for students to reduce or eliminate library fines while also giving back to the community. “The initiative encourages students to take a look around their dorm rooms to see if they do have any books that might well be overdue,” said Gillian McCombs, dean and director of Central University Libraries. “It is easy to forget these deadlines when you are powering away on a research paper during finals.”

Visit SMU’s Central University Libraries online

Waiver credits do not apply to lost book replacement charges or processing fees. Credit only applies to overdue book fines currently assessed; no future credit can be applied. Overdue fines cannot be waived if they have already been sent to the Bursar’s Office for collection.

“Every year we see students show enthusiasm for the program,” said Sam Cavanaugh, front desk receptionist at Fondren Library. “Last year we had several students bring in cans that amounted to more than their library fines. It’s great to see students giving back.”

— Emily Hooper

December 4, 2015|Calendar Highlights, News, Save the Date|

Calendar Highlights: April 29, 2015

Meet-up flyer - no borderEngaged Learning Meet-Up: Engaged Learning invites SMU community members to their Engaged Learning Meet-Up event on Thursday, April 30, at 6 p.m., in the Hughes-Trigg Commons. Held each April, the event is designed to introduce new Engaged Learning projects. To learn more about the event and new projects, visit the Engaged Learning webpage.

Dedman College Research Colloquium: SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences invites SMU community members to the second “Dedman Faculty Research Colloquium” on Thursday, April 30, in McCord Auditorium, Dallas Hall. The event will begin with a brief welcoming reception from 4:45-5 p.m., followed by a presentation from three senior faculty sharing aspects of their research. The three professors include: Rajani Sudan, Associate Professor of English, Pamela Corley, Associate Professor of Political Science, and Pia Vogel, Professor of Biological Sciences.

Meadows Museum Panel Discussion: Celebrating the Meadows Museum 50-year history, a Meadows Museum Panel Discussion will take place Saturday, May 2, from 2-4 p.m., in the Bob and Jean Smith Auditorium. Lee Cullum, host of KERA’s CEO, will moderate a conversation about the history of the Meadows Museum with important figures instrumental to the formation and growth of the institution. This event is free and open to the public. While no registration is required, space is limited and seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis. For more information, call 214-768-4677.

Dancing in the Park: As part of the Meadows Community Series, Meadows dance students present “Dancing in the Park” on Sunday, May 3, 12 p.m., at Klyde Warren Park. The event includes Meadows dance students hosting a creative movement class for children in grades K-6, followed by excerpts of their original works created for the Meadows School’s Sharp Show senior showcase. For more information, call 214-768-2718.

Tate Lecture Series: For the final Tate Lecture of the 2014-15 season, Nate Silver will visit SMU on Tuesday, May 5. Silver is an American statistician and writer who analyzes both baseball and elections. For more information, visit the Tate Lecture Series webpage. 

April 29, 2015|Calendar Highlights, News, Save the Date|
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