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Saturday November 26th

SILS dean named to national health report workgroup

Gary Marchionini  SILS
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An earlier version of this story misstated Gary Marchionini’s appointment. The story has been changed to reflect the correction. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.

As a student, Gary Marchionini struggled to make the choice between pursuing a career in math or in English.

He ended up in the field of information science and did not have to compromise either of his passions.

“Information science is an umbrella of English, math and other disciplines,” said Marchionini, dean of the School of Information and Library Science and Cary C. Boshamer distinguished professor in that same school.

His expertise in information science has earned him a recent appointment to a working group created by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator on Health Information Technology.

The workgroup has been tasked with considering recommendations made by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology to the office.

“They couldn’t have selected a better person for this work group,” said Wanda Monroe, director of communications at the school.

“Dr. Marchionini is internationally known for his expertise in information science and technology.”

She said Marchionini, who has participated on committees with the National Library of Medicine, is world renowned for his studies on information seeking in electronic environments, human-computer interaction, digital libraries, information design and information policy.

Marchionini said his appointment to the group was flattering because of its broad scope in dealing with pertinent public health issues.

“I’m honored to work on something that has such large scale implications on everyone’s health,” he said.

Marchionini said the group’s report, which will be released next month, aims to help people maximize and pay for resources that will help them live longer and healthier lives.

That report made recommendations to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology on implementing health records in the United States, and the workgroup will make a plan for how they should be implemented.

Marchionini said the group has heard from patients, doctors and other players in the health care industry and will report to the office on how to proceed during the next five years.

“There are so many pieces to this project,” said Stephanie Haas, professor in the school of information and library science. But she said Marchionini can handle the complexity.

“It is a multifaceted problem, and he is able to see the many different facets.”

Marchionini said he wants to be sure to include the views of all groups in the report, noting that including a patient viewpoint was especially important.

“One of my roles is to add the human factor,” he said. “I’m trying to ensure that patients’ voices are heard.”

Marchionini, who was born in Pennsylvania but grew up in Detroit, began his teaching career as a public school math teacher. He taught at the junior high and high school he had attended, an experience he said was incredibly interesting.

But a job offer prompted him to move to the field that has earned him so much acclaim.

“I took a job that emphasized computer-based training at the University of Maryland in the library school,” he said. “This began my transition to the much broader field of information science.”

Marchionini has worked at UNC for 13 years. He became dean of the School of Information and Library Science on April 1.

He has also served as president of the American Society of Information Science and Technology.

“I think that he is an extraordinary faculty member and administrator,” said Barbara Moran, distinguished professor in the school.

“His appointment shows wonderful recognition not only for the dean, but also for the School of Information and Library Science at UNC.”

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