Trisha Mileham, director of research services and associate professor of library services, has recently assumed the role of interim dean of library services and has also been chosen to be part of the Library Senior Fellows program at UCLA in August. This prestigious program is very selective and offered Mileham one of 17 spots.
During this time of change for Mileham, University Provost Mark Biermann asked Mileham to serve as interim dean until a formal search process begins for the next dean.
“At the time [Biermann] asked, I was already working toward becoming the associate dean. So our current associate dean is retiring so I had been asked by my boss a couple of years prior to that to start thinking about shadowing this person and that sort of work,” Mileham said. “So in many ways I felt comfortable saying yes to the provost when he asked.”
Mileham describes herself as having a tendency toward leadership and has been leading a department in the Christopher Center for the past nine years.
Before stepping into the interim dean position, Mileham still had time to teach CORE classes as well as administrative work. With her new position she will focus on the administrative aspect.
“[The duties] change dramatically in that I won’t be able to be in the classroom any longer. So I basically trade the classroom for an administrative role, which means I need to focus on the library as a whole, not just the department I was responsible for before,” she said.
Mileham was nominated for the Library Senior Fellows program by a fellow librarian. She was then sent an email inviting her to apply for the fellowship. Mileham provided a personal statement about why the fellowship would be beneficial to her, and she also gave context about the Christopher Center and her own background experience.
“[The fellowship] is something I was working toward while I thought I was moving into the associate dean role. So it’s taken on a little more weight I would say, but the content for me won’t change anything,” she said. “It was still all about library leadership especially on an academic campus in times of change and budget crunches and all sorts of things.”
The Library Senior Fellowship program is three weeks long and will start at the beginning of August on the UCLA campus.
The fellowship will focus on the challenges and opportunities that libraries have within higher education. The faculty teaching at the fellowship are professionals in the field.
“It’s got a great reputation for really being substantive and possibly career changing for people,” she said.
“There are 17 of us -- and one thing I love -- only four of us are from smaller institutions so part of what I love about that is I see being at Valpo. We can make changes a lot more quickly than say Purdue or somewhere just because we’re smaller,” Mileham said. “So I’m really interested to see how that dynamic comes into play just by the fact that we’re all different in that context.”
Mileham also said that the other members of the fellowship will become a future network for her to rely on for day-to-day circumstances.
“[After the conference], I hope to consider how other places are meeting the same challenges that we are...So to sit down at a table with someone who has worked for a very large research institution and talk about the dynamic of student learning in the computer classroom, it gives me a chance to just really spend some thoughtful time with others who think about the same issues,” she said.
“Twenty years in, I feel like I know myself as a professional so I want to find out what I don’t know about me. I got into librarianship because I like the student teaching. I like that interaction with you and your colleagues within the classroom.”
The fellowship has been put on every two years since the 1980s. The scholars that have attended in the past include big names in the field such as the head of American Librarian Association.
“I would say my goals are going to stay the same. We are the best library we can be for students at Valpo so my goal is going to stay right there: student learning. That’s what it is,” Mileham said. “I hope to come back [from the conference] with how to meet that goal in ways that up until now myself and my fellow librarians haven’t considered.”
“My thoughts in general are that I’m just so excited...I’m excited about it, but I’m grateful for the opportunities that I’m being provided,” she said. “I didn't expect either one of them, so I am grateful for the chance and I really am grateful for the context.”