Katy Webb Named Dean of Library and Learning Technologies

Arriving from Yale University, Katy Webb officially begins at Stetson July 1.

Following a national search, Katy Webb has been selected as Stetson’s new Betty Drees Johnson Dean of the duPont-Ball Library and Learning Technologies. Webb will officially join the Stetson community on July 1. She replaces longtime popular dean Susan Ryan, who retired last fall. 

In addition to overseeing the library’s $2 million budget, Webb, as the holder of the only endowed deanship at Stetson, will steward the use of the endowment’s annual, dedicated funds to support library projects, initiatives and/or programs. Other duties include hiring faculty and staff; pursuing fundraising and outreach activities; strategic planning and budgets; and fostering a climate of excellence and connectedness between the library and the other academic and non-academic units, as well as the rest of the university (including the College of Law in Gulfport). Further, Webb will play a role on the university’s Academic Affairs leadership team. 

portrait outside
Provost Elizabeth Skomp, PhD

“We are delighted to welcome Katy Webb as the next Betty Drees Johnson Dean of the duPont-Ball Library and Learning Technologies,” commented Provost Elizabeth Skomp, PhD, who is also vice president of Academic Affairs and professor of World Languages and Cultures. “From her earliest engagement in our search process, Katy distinguished herself as an effective, collaborative and strategic leader whose values align with the values of our Stetson community. Katy will work with faculty, staff, students and other stakeholders to craft and execute the vision for the duPont-Ball Library’s next chapter, and we eagerly look forward to embarking on that process.”

Webb arrives on campus from Yale University, where she was director of Yale Access Services and Bass Library. As director, she was responsible for setting priorities in support of the university’s teaching and research mission, and overseeing all administrative aspects of Bass Library. Her responsibilities also extended beyond the Bass Library to include high-use public spaces and collections located in Yale’s Sterling Memorial Library. 

Prior to Yale, Webb held library roles at East Carolina University (as a tenured associate professor/librarian) and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

‘Central Place for Students’

At Stetson, Webb will seek to continue positioning the library as a “central place for students to come together to learn and grow.” 

“Libraries are key locations for institutions of higher education like Stetson University — not only do they serve as the ‘third place’ on campus besides the classroom, dorm or office for students and faculty, but they are also the intellectual heart of the university,” she says. 

Webb is particularly excited about the library’s Innovation Lab. In 2018, she published a book about library labs, titled “Development of Creative Spaces in Academic Libraries: A Decisionmaker’s Guide.”

“This focus on innovation can spread,” noted Webb, “and by harnessing the idea of the ‘library as a lab’ to more elements of the library, it will allow us to pilot new services and spaces.” 

Webb: “When you put all of these wonderful attributes of the library and Stetson together, along with the excellent staff working in the library, the combination makes for a wonderful environment for a new Library Dean to come into.”

Similarly, Webb lauds Stetson’s Quality Enhancement Plan on Information Literacy, which “shows the commitment that Stetson has to developing students into graduates who will have critical thinking skills to process the large amount of information that they will come across in their careers and in their personal lives.” 

The plan, a three-year initiative, builds on Stetson’s existing mission and values by focusing on the critical skills of information literacy, promoting academic excellence and empowering students to adopt the best practices of intellectual engagement and development in the classroom and beyond. 

Further, Webb seeks to the potential of increased roles for interns to work at the library, citing the “library itself can be seen as sort of a microcosm of all of the different things that people might go out into their careers and do.”

“When you put all of these wonderful attributes of the library and Stetson together, along with the excellent staff working in the library, the combination makes for a wonderful environment for a new Library Dean to come into,” she commented.

‘Abundance Leadership’

As for style and approach on the job, Stetson’s focus on a relationship-rich environment was a key driver in her candidacy. “I admire the concept of abundance leadership, and coming from a place of supporting great ideas and seeking out opportunities instead of one of focusing on a lack of what we do not have or cannot do,” she said. “So, as far as how I’m going to come in as a leader, I want to try to deliver a ‘yes’ if possible. I also know that listening to my team is really important. I’m going to be working with the other deans and talking to them about what their priorities are, learning what they may need from the library, and developing those relationships.”

Music is a big interest, too, and Webb expects to find her way to the School of Music. Notably, Webb has served as a musical director in Wisconsin. For more than seven years, beginning in 2004, she volunteered, which included booking musical acts to appear at the annual Madison Area Music Awards, and coordinating some of the shows from backstage — all as a fun labor of love. (The awards were dubbed the MAMAs, and the event was celebrated on Mother’s Day. She is a mother of two children.)

In addition, Webb is a committed volunteer and fundraiser for causes that are close to her heart. Stetson, of course, will be among them, she said.

And, not coincidentally, Webb is an avid reader, both fiction and nonfiction, consuming 52 books a year. 

One more tidbit: Webb loves languages and cultures. She speaks German and Dutch and graduated from high school in Heidelberg, Germany, located on a U.S. Army post. “I make every effort to keep up my language skills, and some of those books I read each year are in German and Dutch,” she said.

Additionally, she conducted a Fulbright Specialist grant experience to the Netherlands in 2019 and 2022 at the University of Leiden, in conjunction with its Centre for Digital Scholarship. (She was supposed to travel in 2020, but it was delayed because of the pandemic.)

-Michael Candelaria