Provost Ben Vinson III today announced the appointment of Emory University’s dean and librarian Yolanda Cooper as Case Western Reserve’s vice provost and Lindseth Family University Librarian. She will begin her new role Jan. 1.

“I am incredibly pleased to welcome Yolanda as the newest member of our team,” Vinson said. “She brings an extraordinarily people-centered approach to leadership and appreciates greatly the need to engage with, and understand, our own unique culture at Case Western Reserve.”

Cooper comes to CWRU as an experienced professional in the academic library space, having served in leadership roles with various university libraries since 1999. 

At Emory University, Cooper worked with staff to develop a new strategic roadmap for the library, which included priorities such as organizational development; infrastructure and services; collaboration and community engagement; and user experience and operational excellence. In addition, under her tenure, Emory collaborated with Georgia Institute of Technology to create a state-of-the-art, 55,000-square-foot Library Service Center to house a shared collection of books and other materials.

In her role as vice provost and Lindseth Family University Librarian at Case Western Reserve, Cooper will manage an operating budget of nearly $8 million, a library staff of approximately 55, and more than 3.3 million print and electronic resource materials. 

She aims to support collaborative change across the university, advancing research and providing new services and resources to the campus community. She also hopes to foster an environment that inspires discovery, growth, excellence and success, especially among library staff. 

“We operate in an environment that is constantly changing,” she said of higher education libraries in general. “We have to keep moving and growing in order to be effective. And that means really being intentional about that development.”

Cooper also hopes to help expand on existing social and racial justice initiatives and build on the success of retiring Vice Provost and Lindseth Family University Librarian Arnold Hirshon.

“Libraries are uniquely positioned to help communities build knowledge in the areas of social and racial justice and to preserve history, culture, and efforts in these areas,” she said. “But libraries are also community centers and hubs where people come together. They should be a place where people are exploring new things and feel a sense of belonging where they are.”

Vinson noted the commitment of the search committee, led by Venkataramanan “Ragu” Balakrishnan, the Charles H. Phipps Dean of the Case School of Engineering, and Tyler Reimschisel, associate provost for interprofessional and interdisciplinary education, that selected Cooper for the role.

“I want to thank the search committee chairs and members for their time, knowledge and dedication to finding an outstanding leader for our libraries into the future,” Vinson said.

Cooper earned both her undergraduate and master’s degrees from Indiana University, where she also served as assistant dean for libraries human resources from 1999 to 2003. In addition to her work at Emory University, she has also held leadership positions at the University of Virginia and University of Miami. 

She serves on the Harvard Board of Overseers’ Visiting Committee, and is a member of the Grolier Club (America’s oldest and largest society for bibliophiles), Society of American Archivists and American Library Association.

Cooper said she’s looking forward to a new start in Northeast Ohio. While she gets to know the library system and the Case Western Reserve community, she also hopes to continue some of her personal passions, such as music, genealogy, trail walking and reading science fiction. 

“Moving to a new place, exploring new neighborhoods and getting to know new people is always exciting,” she said. “But I’m most excited to learn about the Case Western Reserve culture and engage with this new place.”