Appointment of Athena N. Jackson as Norman and Armena Powell University Librarian

January 25, 2024

Dear Colleagues:

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Athena N. Jackson as the Norman and Armena Powell University Librarian, effective March 1, 2024. This appointment marks her return to UCLA, where she previously served as director of library special collections before departing in 2021 to become dean of libraries and Elizabeth D. Rockwell Chair at the University of Houston. 

Dean Jackson has extensive experience leading teams that promote access to library resources through modern channels, support authentic inclusion and enable transformative learning opportunities within academic communities. In her current role at UH, Dean Jackson is responsible for the oversight of all of the library’s administrative activities, more than 125 personnel and an annual budget of $21 million, providing programmatic and strategic leadership as well as playing a critical role in development activities. One of her central priorities has been collaborating across the university to ensure that UH’s libraries are inclusive spaces that can foster learning and creativity among all employees and users, regardless of their backgrounds or identities. 

Dean Jackson is also active in open scholarship dialogues at the state and national levels, building upon her rich background in rare and archival collections. She has represented UH with relevant member organizations and external constituencies, including the Association of Research Libraries, the Greater Western Library Alliance, the HathiTrust, the Council on Library and Information Resources, the Digital Library Federation and the Texas Digital Library. 

As UCLA’s director of library special collections from 2019 to 2021, Dean Jackson provided leadership, oversight and strategic vision to shape the future of special collections and archives on our campus. A member of the Library’s management team, she fostered innovative practices responding to challenges affecting special collections and archives, including the preservation and conservation of material objects and digital records, and use of digital tools and methods to enhance delivery of our collections.

Before joining UCLA, Dean Jackson served as the Dorothy Foehr Huck Chair and head of the Eberly Family Special Collections Library at Penn State University and as the associate director of special collections at the University of Michigan Special Collections Library. She also worked as a special collections librarian at the University of Miami and as the education and outreach librarian and project manager/librarian for the Digitizing Louisiana Newspapers Project at Louisiana State University. Additionally, she was coordinator of the North Carolina Newspaper Digitization Project and archivist at the North Carolina State Archives. Dean Jackson holds a Master of Science in library and information science from the University of North Texas and a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Houston.

I want to thank the search/advisory committee members for assembling an outstanding pool of candidates for this position and for their role in recruiting Dean Jackson. Wendelin Slusser, associate vice provost for the Semel Healthy Campus Initiative Center at UCLA and clinical professor of pediatrics, served as the committee chair.

Other members were:

  • David Cappoli – director of web operations, UCLA Law Communications; past chair, Los Angeles chapter of the Librarians’ Association of the University of California (2022–23)
  • John Colicelli – professor and vice chair, Department of Biological Chemistry
  • Kimberley Gomez – professor of education and information studies
  • Christopher Johanson – associate professor of classics and digital humanities; chair, Program in Digital Humanities
  • Christopher M. Kelty – professor of information studies, anthropology, and Institute for Society and Genetics
  • R. Carlo Medina – director of the University of California Southern Regional Library Facility and UCLA Library Unified Access Services
  • Renee R. Romero – science librarian; chair, Los Angeles chapter of the Librarians’ Association of the University of California
  • Derjung Mimi Tarn – professor of family medicine

I also want to recognize and express my gratitude to Ginny Steel for her exemplary service as university librarian since 2013. Her longstanding commitment and many contributions to UCLA, and the larger academic library community, will have an impact well beyond her tenure.

Our libraries play a critical role in the academic enterprise at UCLA, and Chancellor Block and I are confident that Athena will provide outstanding leadership as university librarian. Please join us in welcoming her back to UCLA and congratulating her on taking on this important role.


Darnell Hunt
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost