Catherine Cardwell

Catherine Cardwell

Interim Vice President, Student Services and Dean, University Libraries


Catherine Cardwell is the Dean of the University Libraries at the University of Nevada, Reno. She is the co-editor of Leading Change in Academic Libraries (ACRL, 2020), a collection of change stories analyzing strategic planning, reorganizations, technology, new roles for librarians, and organizational culture change at 20 academic libraries across the country.

Cardwell positions the University Libraries to support the University’s R1 mission and its aspirational goal of becoming an AAU university. Top priorities for the Libraries range from increasing equitable student outcomes and investing in our faculty, staff, and infrastructure to elevating research and scholarly contributions and establishing Reno-Lake Tahoe as a center of sustainability education, research, and thought leadership.

As Regional Associate Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, Cardwell’s responsibilities included budget planning and oversight for Academic Affairs, planning for consolidation efforts at the University of South Florida, and collaboration with campus leadership on educational, research, and outreach goals. As Campus Dean of the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library, Cardwell provided oversight of the campus library, its operations, and its services. During her tenure as dean, Cardwell led an effort to preserve, digitize, and sustain The Weekly Challenger, a local African-American newspaper. The Library received $300,000 from the Florida State Legislature to support the project. As a result, the Library now serves as the newspaper’s archive for current electronic issues and digitized historical print issues and documents the African-American experience in St. Petersburg.

Cardwell has been a co-Principal Investigator or team member on grants totaling $1.69M. She served as library director at Ohio Wesleyan University and in various library and academic affairs leadership roles at Bowling Green State University. Because of her leadership experience at different types of universities—a public doctoral university with high research activity, a small private university, a comprehensive regional university, and now a Research 1 university—she has extensive experience with the challenges and opportunities in academic libraries and higher education.       

While creating dynamic and contemporary user-centered spaces, Cardwell has focused on leading and managing change and strengthening the library’s role in teaching, learning, and research. She serves as a mentor for early and mid-career librarians transitioning into leadership positions. Cardwell earned her bachelor’s degree in English and French from Youngstown State University, a master’s degree in French language and literature from the University of Pittsburgh, and a master’s degree in Library Science from Kent State University.


M.L.S., Library Science, Kent State University

M.A., French Language and Literature, University of Pittsburgh

B.A., English and French, Youngstown State University

Selected publications

Boff, C., & Cardwell, C. (2020). Leading Change in Academic Libraries. ALA.