June 20, 2007

Houdek named associate dean for law school

by Pete Rosenbery


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CARBONDALE — Frank G. Houdek, director of the Southern Illinois University School of Law Library, is the law school's new associate dean for academic affairs.

Dean Peter C. Alexander appointed Houdek to the post effective July 1. The appointment is subject to ratification by the SIU Board of Trustees.

As director of the law school library since January 1985, Houdek has more than 22 years of administrative experience at SIUC. He will also continue as a law professor.

Douglas W. Lind, the head of Collection Development at Georgetown University's Edward Bennett Williams Library, succeeds Houdek as director of the SIU law school library next month.

"Unlike many faculty members who become associate dean, Frank has run the law library, served as its chief administrator, engaged in budgeting strategic planning and he knows his way around the University system," Alexander said. "Those are very important skills for any administrator, and it will be very helpful to me and the School of Law to have someone in the job who brings that skill set with them on Day One."

Alexander expects Houdek will continue the tradition of excellence established byWenona Y. Whitfield, associate law professor, who is retiring June 30, and Mary C. Rudasill, associate law professor, who preceded Whitfield in the post.

"They have been excellent administrators," Alexander said. "In many ways, the associate dean's job is harder than the dean's job. The dean has responsibility for the overall law school program but the associate dean has responsibility for the details of the academic program.

"It's important to have someone in that role who you can trust," he said. "I have been fortunate to have had two very competent associate deans and I'm looking forward to having a third."

A Los Angeles native, Houdek, 58, earned his law degree from the UCLA School of Law in 1974, and a master's in library science there in 1976. Houdek received his bachelor's degree in psychology in 1971, also at UCLA.

He began as a reference librarian in 1975 at the Los Angeles County Law Library in Los Angeles, which at the time was about the third largest law library in the United States. From July 1979 to June 1982, Houdek was librarian with Lawler, Felix and Hall, managing the library for a firm of about 75 attorneys. In July 1982, he began work as associate director of the law library and as adjunct assistant professor of law at the University of Southern California.

Houdek said he has enjoyed his work in librarianship but sees the new role as an extension of his service to the law school. Having served as administrator for the 400,000-plus-volume library and an annual budget of approximately $1.75 million, Houdek is "happy to contribute to the law school in another administrative capacity."

"It will offer new challenges and I am looking forward to that," Houdek said.

As associate dean, Houdek will oversee the law school's academic programs, dealing primarily with student academic issues and curriculum matters. He also will oversee the law school's compliance with American Bar Association rules.

He sees the new position as an extension of the informal relationships the library staff develops with students. Houdek teaches first-year legal research along with an advanced electronic research course.

"The students do develop a pretty good relationship with the entire library staff," he said. "We are sort of the safe haven in the law school; there is less anxiety. As librarians … we are very service-oriented. Service to law students is certainly a hallmark and an expectation for the associate dean."

There are many things Houdek enjoys about the law school and Southern Illinois. The law school's size affords the opportunity to develop relationships with students that can be more difficult to establish on a larger campus and in more urban areas, he said. There also is greater interaction with faculty, he said.

"I've developed wonderful friendships with my faculty colleagues because they are around and you get a chance to know each other," he said.

Houdek and his wife, Susan E. Tulis, an associate dean for library affairs at SIUC's Morris Library, live in Carbondale. The couple has four children.