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In Memoriam: Emily Hicks

By Shannon Shelton Miller

Emily Hicks, an associate professor, director of information acquisition and organization for University Libraries, and a campus leader who worked across a broad range of academic areas and venues, died Monday, Oct. 7. She was 50.

Among many areas of significant University service and leadership, such as Leadership UD and the Human Resources Advisory Committee, she was elected secretary of the Academic Senate, serving three years of her six-year term.

"Emily Hicks was not only an influential leader in Roesch Library; she was an active and deeply respected academic citizen of the UD community," said Paul Benson, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. "Emily was widely admired for her commitment to high-quality work, her collaborative spirit, her candor and warm collegiality. Many of us across campus will miss Emily a great deal."

A leader on campus

She worked at the University for 17 years, arriving in August 2002 and receiving tenure in 2008. She led a team of nine in University Libraries, directing the acquisition and cataloging of all information resources.

“She was an excellent director and advocate for her staff,” said Kathy Webb, professor and dean of University Libraries. “She balanced her division needs with the needs of the whole library and the campus. The Library is a better place because of her leadership, input and personality.”

Hicks also was pursuing a doctorate in educational leadership in higher education administration at UD and was completing her final coursework this semester. Her research interests focused on the intersection of emotional intelligence and leadership.

 “Her research spoke to the kind of leader she aspired to be — not just a director or supervisor or manager, but a leader whose compassion and empathy guided her decision-making," said Ione Damasco, professor and coordinator of cataloging for University Libraries. “She helped lead us through strategic planning, work redesign, the renovation and other challenges and changes to our work. She was always cheering on the underdog, and she did her best to make sure every member of her division knew that she valued their perspective and input, regardless of their role or position."

A leader in the library profession

In addition to her participation in UD governance and leadership, Hicks represented the University in state library organizations, including the OhioLINK Database Improvement and Discoverability Policy Team. In 2008, she attended the HERS Institute, a national workshop to develop the leadership potential of women in higher education. Other professional activities included membership in the Academic Library Association of Ohio, the Ohio Valley Group of Technical Services Librarians, the Ohio Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Association and the United States Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Association.

Compassion, advocacy

“Emily was a huge proponent of inclusivity in communicating, understanding and supporting people's rights,” said Patty Meinking, an acquisitions assistant for University Libraries. “She was engaged with each of us regarding our lives and wanted to know what was important to us not only in our work but outside of our work. She was our champion and instilled a trust with her team that allowed us the flexibility and the autonomy to get work accomplished. I never wanted to let her down."

Hicks' colleagues also remember her fondly for her love of Jane Austen novels, cross-stitch and University of Kentucky basketball, along with her devotion to her rescue animals. A Kentucky native, Hicks received her bachelor’s degree from Transylvania University in Kentucky and her master’s in library science from the University of Kentucky.

Memorial service Oct. 15

A memorial service will take place at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 15, in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, followed by a reception to share stories and celebrate her life in the Kennedy Union west ballroom.

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