From Bertrum MacDonald: With sadness, the School of Information Management shares news of the death Dr. Louis G. Vagianos, the founder and Director of the School (1969-1970).
During his career at Dalhousie University, Dr. Vagianos also held the senior positions of University Librarian and Vice-President (Administration). He returned to a leadership role in the School in 1994-1995 when he served as Interim Director between the directorship of Dr. Mary Dykstra Lynch and Dr. Bertrum MacDonald. Louis Vagianos was instrumental in establishing the innovative vision of the Master of Library Service (now Master of Library and Information Studies), which emphasized systems thinking along with the broad relevance of professional information work across organizational types. Forty years on, his breadth of vision influenced the design of the mid-career Master of Information Management program as a complement to the MLIS. He was an inspirational instructor who advocated and encouraged “outside the box” thinking. As a consequence, graduates left Dalhousie to make a mark in the field of information management in Canada and around the globe.
Perhaps the terms of the Vagianos Medal – which was established in 1990 in his honour and which terms he helped to write – best sums up his creative outlook on life. The medal is awarded each year at convocation to “a graduating student who combines the capacity for blending originality with practical thinking and the courage to seek solutions to professional problems outside of the mainstream.” Louis Vagianos emulated these characteristics in all his endeavours and the School of Information Management is indebted to his vision for the fields of information management and librarianship.
In addition to the memorial option noted in the obituary below, alumni and friends of the School may wish to honour Dr. Vagianos by making a donation to the School’s Memorial Fund here (under “Read more about the SIM Memorial Fund”).
VAGIANOS, Dr. Louis George –
(May 8, 1933 – July 24, 2014)
We celebrate the life of Louis George Vagianos, whose journey began in Weirton, West Virginia in 1933 and ended in Toronto on July 24, 2014.
His parents left Chios, Greece for the United States during the Depression in search of a better life. He always credited the extraordinary library and education programs in Cleveland in the 1940s and 50s with opening up his mind to what the world has to offer, and fostering a life-long love of music, theatre, books and art. In addition to his many professional accomplishments, he was a patron of the arts his whole life and made frequent trips to New York to enjoy its music and theatre scenes, Broadway and the Metropolitan Opera.
Louis was a man of many gifts and professions. His journey took him from Cleveland, where he grew up and went to college; to Providence, RI, where he was Assistant Librarian at Brown University; to Halifax, NS, where he was University Librarian at Dalhousie University, oversaw the building of the Killam Library, was instrumental in the founding of the School of Library Service, served as Vice-President, and then moved into the role of Executive Director of the Institute for Research on Public Policy; and to Montreal, QC where, as Consultant to the Rector, Vice-Rectors and a number of departmental directors at Concordia University, he advised on or managed a variety of university-wide projects. While in each of these positions, he taught, and accepted freelance projects that captured his interest, such as the design of several university libraries, public policy research and extensive political speech-writing. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Prince Edward Island.
Louis was an original who marched to the beat of his own drum. A gifted leader, administrator, but most important to him, mentor, he touched the lives of countless students and professionals over the course of his life and career. He was dedicated to the world of ideas, and the notion of living according to a set of shared values that he was always keen to discuss, define and redefine. An idealist, he led by example, and charged us all to leave the world a little better than we found it. He certainly did his part.
Louis’ inquisitive and generous spirit will continue to support and guide the people he touched, especially his wife Joey, daughter Andrea (Zis), granddaughter Antonia, brother Van (Karen), nephews and niece Tom (Patty), Michael (Laura) and Christina, and his many valued friends across Canada and the United States. We are grateful for the meaning he brought to our lives and will remember fondly the hours we spent enjoying his “philoso-phunculizing”.
Louis requested to be cremated and there will be a private family memorial service.
The family thanks Dr. Wells and everyone at the Odette Cancer Centre and Transfusion Clinic, Sunnybrook Hospital, for their extraordinary support, and invites donations in lieu of flowers to the Centre in Louis’ memory: www.sunnybrook.ca/foundation.