Combs to serve as VU interim dean of libraries; Dowell to retire

Vanderbilt University has announced that Joseph “Jody” Combs will serve as interim dean of libraries from Aug. 1 through June 30, 2015.

Combs, currently associate dean of libraries, will replace Connie Vinita Dowell, who is retiring July 31 after having served in the position since it was created in 2009.

During her nearly six years at Vanderbilt, Dowell oversaw an extensive $6 million renovation of the Central Library. She changed policy to allow food and drink in the library system and the opening of café Food for Thought.

In addition, under Dowell’s leadership, VU libraries began loaning iPad2s because of student demand and added an outdoor exhibit to promote various exhibits and other library happenings to the community.

Of note, the Central Library was awarded gold certification for its environmentally friendly renovation from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System. It was the first Vanderbilt campus renovation to achieve that honor.

“Connie has been a terrific colleague and friend and she has done amazing things to enhance our libraries,” Richard McCarty, VU provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, said in a release. “She developed the plans to renovate the Central Library into a popular destination on campus for scholarship, studying and small group projects, tour group visits and events for the broader public.”

Dowell, who earned her master’s degree in library science from Vanderbilt’s Peabody College, wrote in a message to library staff April 8 the following: “I owe my career to this institution and I am so honored to end my career here. This experience has produced memories that are even more treasured than those of my earlier time here as a student. They are the best possible gift anyone could take into retirement. I will not be leaving Vanderbilt, only my position as dean of libraries.”