Journey comes full circle for new FHSU chair

By Diane Gasper-O’Brien
University Relations and Marketing
Her love of reading helped build a foundation that eventually resulted in a degree in library science. Her passion for learning brought Dr. Sherry Crow back to her roots.

A graduate of Fort Hays State University, Crow took over last month as chair of the Advanced Education Programs at her alma mater.

It’s a journey that comes full circle for Crow, who was born in western Kansas, moved to Hays at age 9, attended Hays public schools, then decided to continue her education across town at FHSU.

After Crow earned her master’s degree in Library Science, and a Ph.D. in Library and Information Management from Emporia State University, she and her husband, Steve, moved several times in conjunction with his career in the pharmaceutical industry. That gave Crow the opportunity to work in a variety of school and public libraries around the country.

Crow has authored and/or co-authored five books and 21 peer-reviewed articles. Her latest work – a textbook in many library science programs and staple in most university libraries across the country – is the fifth edition of Information Literacy and Information Skills Instruction: New Directions for School Libraries. She co-authored the book with her mentor from Emporia State, Nancy Thomas, and colleagues Judy Henning and Jean Donham. It is described by the publisher as “exploring the ways in which today’s Internet-savvy young people view and use information to complete school assignments and make sense of everyday life.”

Before coming to FHSU, Crow spent the past 12 years as a professor at the University of Nebraska-Kearney, where she also served four years as an associate dean in the College of Education and helped lead its teacher education department through accreditation.

She learned about the opening at Fort Hays State from a colleague at an accreditation conference last spring and decided to check it out. Not only did the position intrigue Crow, but her mother, 92-year-old Rosemary Hillman, still lives in Hays, as does her daughter, Sarah Eiden, and her family.

“This was a chance to get closer to family, and I am really excited about this job,” Crow said. “There is a wonderful variety of programs in AEP. As the chair, I will teach graduate level students and lead faculty, and that fits my skill set. It all made sense to me. It’s a great next step. I’m ready for this challenge.”

A career in education was a natural fit for Crow, whose parents both taught in one-room schoolhouses. Both her older brothers were teachers as well. All were FHSU graduates.

Crow likes to tell the story of starting college early in life. As a 5-year-old, she would often attend class with her mother, who was taking continuing education classes at FHSU. So it was no surprise that she chose elementary education as her major. However, her first job out of college introduced her to the wonderful world of libraries. She served as the children’s librarian at the Hays Public Library for four years, and she was hooked.

While books can take readers anywhere, Crow learned that working in the library profession can, too. After years of sharing her knowledge in several different states, her love of teaching is bringing her back home.  

“One of the reasons I came back to Hays is that Fort Hays State is nimble; it is innovative,” she said, using as an example how FHSU has grown consistently the last several years because of its quality online component.

“Fort Hays State has just blossomed, and that’s innovation,” she said, “thinking outside of our own borders and not settling for the way we’ve done things in the past.”

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