Deputy Provost Joseph Meisel named next Brown University librarian

After serving as interim University librarian for three months, and deputy provost for eight years, the historian and higher education leader will transition into key leadership position for Brown’s research and education mission.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Joseph Meisel, a higher education leader, historian and humanities scholar who currently serves as Brown University’s deputy provost, has been appointed the Joukowsky Family University Librarian at Brown.

In the role, Meisel will provide strategic and operational leadership for the Brown University Library, a team of library professionals and extensive network of collections, facilities and digital scholarship tools that support teaching and research across campus.

Meisel has served as deputy provost since his arrival to Brown in 2010 and as interim University librarian since Aug. 1, 2018.

“Joe brings a depth of relevant experience to this role that makes him exceptionally qualified to provide the leadership the Library needs at this point in its history and for the critical progress required to continue to advance library services for the University’s future,” Brown Provost Richard M. Locke said in an Oct. 29 announcement to the campus community. “I am confident that Joe’s appointment to this role will ensure reliable, experienced leadership exists at a time that requires both stability and innovation for the University Library.”

Locke said that as interim University librarian, Meisel has already advanced key priorities, including refocusing and shepherding the Library’s strategic plan to align it more closely with the University’s strategic plan, Building on Distinction. As part of Brown’s commitment to cultivating an inclusive academic community, Meisel has worked to strengthen communications and instill a collaborative approach to employee and labor relations within the Library.

Additionally, Meisel has addressed a number of critical vacancies, launching several searches, developing an interim and long-term operational plan for the organizational structure of library services and filling key roles, including that of the deputy University librarian.

As deputy provost, Meisel contributed to a wide range of projects aimed at strengthening academic excellence at Brown. In recent years, he was instrumental in developing the Operational Plan for Building on Distinction as well as plans for the Brown Arts Initiative, Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative, Annenberg Institute for School Reform, and the Department of Music, where he served as interim chair during 2017-18. He led Brown’s recently concluded reaccreditation process and has worked closely with Brown’s financial leaders on the integration of academic and budget planning.

Meisel has also served as the senior administration’s representative for collecting institutions beyond the University Library, including the David Winton Bell Gallery, the John Carter Brown Library, the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology. In 2015, he played a central role in securing a $1.3 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for an innovative Digital Scholarship Initiative based at the Library.

Meisel said he looks forward to continuing the work he has started in what has been a rewarding new role.

“It is a tremendous honor to be asked to serve as Brown’s University librarian,” Meisel said. “This is a dynamic time at Brown and also for the role that research libraries like ours play in supporting education and scholarship. Working closely with the Library's staff and leadership over the past three months has been an outstanding experience, and I'm excited by the prospect of all that we will continue to accomplish together.”

Meisel holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in history from Columbia University. He is the author or co-author of three books as well as numerous articles on political life in Britain and the British Empire in the 19th and 20th centuries, and he is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

Before coming to Brown, he spent 11 years at the Mellon Foundation as a program officer for research universities and humanistic scholarship. In this role, he managed field-building initiatives in the humanities, programs to support the work of scholars at all career stages, and projects to strengthen institutions that support humanities scholarship.

Meisel’s permanent appointment as University librarian is effective immediately.