Dr. Bias named interim dean of Texas iSchool

Ferguson, John  |  Aug 31, 2017

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Randolph Bias
Randolph Bias
Andrew Dillon

On Sept. 1, Texas iSchool Professor Randolph Bias assumed the role of interim dean of The University of Texas at Austin School of Information.

A pioneer of the user experience field, Dean Bias spent two decades in private industry before joining the School of Information in 2003. This summer, the international User Experience Professionals Association (UXPA) honored him with its lifetime achievement award.

Dean Bias has determined three "interleaved, high-level goals" for the iSchool:

  • to help maintain the vibrant, creative, collaborative, safe, inclusive, open-minded, learning and research environment that is the iSchool;
  • to help facilitate a smooth transition to “that lucky new dean, whoever that shall be;”
  • to sustain and grow the school’s reputation as a leader in the iSchool movement in particular, and in information studies research and pedagogy in general.

The iSchool is in the process of searching for a permanent dean. In the meantime, the continued success of the school will require a shared vision, good communication and a certain amount of compromise, he said.

“I welcome your input, your creative ideas and your mid-course corrections as we all work together to help our students toward inspired and inspiring careers, help our staff engage in rewarding work, help our faculty excel at research and teaching, help our alumni be proud of what they’ve left behind, and help understand and steer the greater world of interplay between humans and information,” Dean Bias told members of the iSchool community.

He succeeds Dr. Andrew Dillon, who served the iSchool as dean for 15 years. 

“I thank Andrew, and Provost McInnis, for having the faith in me, and I will hold Andrew’s unmistakable dedication to the iSchool, and his leadership style and verve, as my explicit guides,” Dean Bias said. “Plus he knows that I shall keep him on speed-dial.”

“I assume this new post with almost equal parts humility and pride, enthusiasm and tremulousness,” he continued. “It stays at the front of my mind, that I have the (shared!) responsibility for sustaining the fifth-ranked iSchool in the nation. I’m like the lumbering lineman who, having thrown one of many blocks, is running alongside the star quarterback as he is about to complete a stunning run. And then, with just 10 yards to go, I am handed to ball to get to make the score myself. Wouldn’t it be a shame to trip, now?! Of course, 2018, and the hiring of a new iSchool dean, is not 'the goal line'–it is just the next major landmark in the 70-year evolution of our school. But as I am handed this 'ball' I receive it with all the attention, energy, and talent I can possibly muster, to keep it, and us, moving forward.”

Dean Dillon said he is delighted that Dr. Bias has agreed to take on the interim role, and he knows the school is in safe hands. Following a year of sabbatical, Dean Dillon has announced he will return to the faculty of the School of Information in Fall 2018.

Nearly 130 new students join Texas iSchool

Ferguson, John  |  Aug 28, 2017

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New iSchool students
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More than 110 of the iSchool's 128 new students attended orientation on Aug. 24.
Randolph Bias
Philip Doty

The Texas iSchool is welcoming a class of 125 new master’s students and three new doctoral students in the Fall 2017 semester.

During an orientation session one week before the first day of class, the iSchool’s incoming interim dean, Professor Randolph Bias, encouraged new students to focus on acquiring the skills they need to get a job in two years, but to also focus on the theory that undergirds those skills “so that in 20 years you can get a job that doesn’t exist yet.”

Dr. Bias also recommended that new students quickly build a plan for their education while remaining flexible as that plan evolves. “Two years is not a long time,” he said. “Get involved early. Don’t be shy.”

In 2017, applications to the School of Information increased 54 percent from the previous year, according to a recent report from UT’s Graduate and International Admissions Center. The iSchool’s newest enrollees were chosen from a wide pool of applicants who were drawn to a rich environment in which to study the intersection of people, information and technology, said Associate Dean Philip Doty.

Dr. Doty told the iSchool’s new students the faculty and staff would support them as they expand their focus and change not just what they know but who they are in the world.

“There’s a real sense of community here,” he said. “You are one of us.”

Dr. Bias receives lifetime achievement award

Ferguson, John  |  Apr 25, 2017

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 a picture of professor randolph bias
Randolph Bias
Awards & Recoginition

The world’s premier organization for user experience professionals is honoring School of Information Professor Randolph G. Bias with its lifetime achievement award.

A pioneer of the user experience field, Dr. Bias spent two decades in private industry before joining the School of Information in 2003.

“What makes Randolph stand out, even above and beyond his achievements, is his commitment to bridging the gap between academia and practice. This attitude has informed everything he has done and is critical to our practice,” said Rich Gunther, executive director of the User Experience Professionals Association, in UXPA's announcement.

The organization will present Dr. Bias with the 2017 UXPA Lifetime Achievement Award during its annual meeting in June in Toronto.

“I am surprised and pleased to be honored this way,” Dr. Bias said. “I see this award as an honoring of that research-practice nexus. You know, I might assert that research without an eye to application can be sterile. And practice that is not steeped in research is likely to be haphazard. I think the field of UX will do well to be intentional about the connection.”

Dr. Andrew Dillon, dean and professor of the School of Information, said Dr. Bias’ award was well-deserved.

“Lifetime achievement awards are extremely rare, and the recipients are rightly recognized by peers as having made long-term contributions that shape a field. In Randolph’s case, his pioneering work on cost-justification for usability in design and the drive for a more scientific understanding of user experience have influenced both practice in the field and the education of generations of UX professionals. This honor is a tribute to his career and is a source of pride for all of us in the iSchool where we are fortunate to have Randolph as a colleague.”

Dr. Bias earned his Ph.D. in human experimental psychology from UT Austin in 1978. He worked as a human factors/usability practitioner for firms such as Bell Labs and IBM and co-founded Austin Usability, a small lab and consultancy where he was Chief Usability Officer. 

In that time, he also co-edited two editions of the book Cost-Justifying Usability, which helped inspire and inform a more empirical approach to usability practice.

Dr. Bias joined the School of Information in 2003. While conducting research funded by government agencies such as the NSF and NIH and large companies like IBM and Microsoft, he has continued to consult with high-tech companies. In 2016, Dr. Bias and his recent doctoral student in the Texas iSchool, Hans Huang, won the John Wiley Best JASIST Paper Award for the best article published in the Journal of the Association of Information Science & Technology.

UXPA has 50 chapters around the world and members from 60 countries. It supports people who research, design and evaluate the user experience of products and services.


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