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College of Information dean retiring

Herman Totten

Herman Totten, above, dean of the College of Information, planned to stay at UNT for only three years when he arrived in 1977. But three years turned into 38, and Totten plans to retire from UNT at the end of the summer. He likes UNT and what the university offers its students.

Coming back to Texas

Before coming to UNT in 1977, Totten served as associate professor and associate dean for the University of Kentucky’s College of Library Science. In 1974 he moved to the University of Oregon to teach and serve as the dean of the School of Librarianship.

While at Oregon, the School of Librarianship along with two other major schools were suspended to be re-evaluated at a later time. Totten said he could have stayed and worked in the library, but as an educator he didn’t want to.

As a native Texan, he was elated to return to where he grew up, went to college and got his first professional job.

His three years at Kentucky caught the attention of UNT because he doubled the enrollment of male students in a female-dominant profession. At that time the Dallas-Fort Worth region was growing, so UNT’s School of Library and Information Sciences wanted him to recruit more male students.

He became the first African-American academic administrator at UNT. At that time there were numerous African-American students and a few faculty, but no administrators.

“It was not a new thing for me,” Totten said. “When I was at Kentucky I was the first.”

Furthering the field

During his 38 years, one highlight of his career was becoming the founding dean of the College of Information. A unanimous vote by the faculties of the School of Library and Information Sciences and the Department of Learning Technologies was required to combine the two to make its own college.

The process was long. A feasibility study took six months, and after that work, the faculty voted unanimously to form the College of Information.

“It was very tedious and touch-and-go all the way,” he said.

And he didn’t stop there. Two months ago the College of Information was voted into full membership of the iCaucus, a body of the iSchools organization dedicated to the advancement of the information field.

ISchools holds an annual conference, and in 2013 UNT hosted the conference. Totten said it went well and required two more years, but UNT was finally voted in.

“Being a part of the governing group of iSchools, it opens us up to the opportunity to attract very high-caliber faculty, students and sponsors for research activity,” Totten said.

Continued service to others

Totten is an active member of his church and plans to work in the church after he leaves UNT. He said he will work with adults who don’t know how to read and write.

He’s had past successes and wants to begin working with two students at once instead of two. Totten spoke about a past student he worked with and said it’s a great feeling to see it all pay off.

“The joy I got seeing what reading opened up for him is gratifying,” he said. “The twinkle in his eye when he was able to read the Denton Record-Chronicle made all the work worth it.”

-Jordan Ottaway, student assistant, University Relations, Communications and Marketing

(Photo by Gary Payne / URCM)

Posted on: Wed 19 August 2015

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