In 1988, Toni Carbo, dean of the School of Library and Information Sciences (now the School of Information Sciences) at the University of Pittsburgh, formed the Gang of Three, including her decanal colleagues at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies (Donald Marchand) and Drexel University’s College of Information Science and Technology (Richard Lytle).
Within the next couple of years, the dean of the School of Communication, Information, and Library Studies at Rutgers University (Richard Budd) joined the group, making it a Gang of Four. The Gang grew out of informal conversations at a meeting of the Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE). Each of the schools offered graduate Library & Information Science (LIS) and a variety of “other” programs, including undergraduate information science, telecommunications, journalism, etc. The objective was to share information and to foster development of a community of colleagues addressing such questions as “How do you explain information science (IS) to your provost?” The Gang met informally into the mid-1990s.
In 2001, the group was reconstituted under Toni’s leadership at a meeting in Pittsburgh. Participants included deans from Syracuse University (Raymond von Dran), Drexel University (David Fenske), the University of Washington’s Information School (Michael Eisenberg), and the University of Michigan’s School of Information (John King). With that meeting, the “Gang of Five” was formed.
Beginning in 2003, Gang membership grew with the addition of deans from the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois, the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina, the College of Information at Florida State University, the School of Informatics at Indiana University, and the School of Information at the University of Texas, bringing it to the “Gang of Ten.” By this point, the informal name was becoming unwieldy and a bit inappropriate, particularly as continued growth was anticipated. Through the leadership of deans John King, the late Raymond von Dran, and Michael Eisenberg, the group’s agenda became more focused on building a sense of identity and community among the “information schools,” or “iSchools.”
Typically, the group met twice per year. Meetings, hosted by one of the deans, included private discussions among the deans as well as open conversations with faculty of the host school, and usually an informal reception or lunch. During the deans-only sessions, the agenda focused on challenging administrative, programmatic, and planning issues, in addition to the continuing interest in explaining IS better to our non-IS colleagues. The sessions also provided an opportunity to learn about the curriculum and research of each school. An early goal was to nurture the development of a critical mass of faculty across the schools to undertake collaborative research.
The group was formally named “the iSchools Caucus” (more casually referred to as the iCaucus), and its membership grew rapidly with the addition of:
- The School of Communication, Information, and Library Studies
Rutgers University (rejoining)
- The School of Information
University of California, Berkeley
- The Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences
University of California, Irvine
- The Graduate School of Education and Information Studies
University of California, Los Angeles
- The College of Information Sciences and Technology
Pennsylvania State University
- The College of Computing
Georgia Institute of Technology
- The School of Library and Information Science
- The College of Information Studies
University of Maryland
- The Faculty of Information
University of Toronto
And in 2008, two more institutions joined:
- The Heinz School
Carnegie Mellon University
- The School of Information Systems
Singapore Management University
As a board member of the Computing Research Association (CRA), King introduced the iSchools Caucus to the CRA IT Deans Group, founded in 2000 at the Snowbird meeting and chaired by Peter Freeman (Georgia Tech). In 2008, the name of the CRA group was shortened with majority approval to the “CRA Deans” group. The CRA Deans group provides a broad forum for leaders of IT schools, colleges, and institutes to share experiences, strategies, opportunities, and concerns. It illuminates issues and seeks common ground leading to a coherent and unified voice for the academic and research communities, and to the general public. A substantial majority of the iSchool deans have joined the CRA Deans group in order to assure that information-related issues are appropriately reflected in the group’s evolving agenda.