Texas Tech University

Veteran Library and Information Sciences Expert to Lead School of Veterinary Medicine Library Services

George Watson

May 6, 2020

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Howard Rodriguez-Mori brings extensive experience from his time in the Florida State University System.

Some aspects of the science and art of practicing veterinary medicine are constant, whereas other parts change rapidly. Not surprisingly, information is key to success, and in today's world, this issue is not really the ability to access information. What is needed is the ability to timely identify relevant information and distinguish useful pieces from the growing noise of information overload.

For the Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo, the opportunity to address this need by building a focused information system from the ground up is a unique opportunity. Each course and lecture possess its own unique requirement for instructional and informational resources, from textbooks and clinical studies to data sets, recorded laboratory sessions and expert videos.

Some of those courses may require students to access information remotely or in the field. Content to help students develop the skills to rapidly access and distinguish information has been weaved throughout the curriculum.

Finding someone who can bring that all together for the School of Veterinary Medicine has been a focus with the first class planned to start in just over a year. Also important for the school is someone who will take shared ownership of its mission of serving the needs of rural and regional communities, provide access to affordable education, and foster its core values.

Howard Rodriguez-Mori is that person.

Rodriguez-Mori joins the faculty of the new Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo as an associate professor of Library and Information Services. He began his duties on May 1.

Howard Rodriguez-Mori
Howard Rodriguez-Mori

"It is exciting to join the School of Veterinary Medicine at Texas Tech and to be part of the team that will develop the program," Rodriguez-Mori said. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and that is why I am so excited about the role I will play at the School of Veterinary Medicine. I genuinely believe it is essential for our clinical students to feel and know that the school is backing them up regardless of their clinical practice locations, and I take to heart making sure they get the support they need."

Rodriguez-Mori arrives at Texas Tech after serving dual roles in the Florida State University System. He served as the Open Educational Resources Coordinator and Associate Librarian at Florida International University and as an assistant professor of Library and Information Studies at Florida State University.

His library education includes courses in medical librarianship, evidence-based practice and multicultural communication and service. The past two years, he has conducted research into the roles and influence of libraries, government agencies and religious and non-profit influence on Hurricane Maria survivors taking refuge in Central Florida. This has led to a comprehensive systematic review of hurricane-related post-traumatic stress syndrome research.

"Information overload is something we all talk about," said Guy Loneragan, dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine. "Weeding through the never-ending onslaught to quickly and accurately target information we can use to make a difference for our clients and their animals is a critical skill we need to – and can – develop in our students. Dr. Mori is the right person to do that. He will make an impact in the lives of our students and also for our faculty and staff. Our school is so much better for Dr. Mori being part of it."

Rodriguez-Mori earned both his master's degree in Library and Information Science (2001) and doctorate in Information Use Studies (2009) from Florida State, and in 2019 he completed a master's degree in Marketing and Management Communication.

He has been awarded the SABIO Post-Graduate Diversity Residency Program from the University of Arizona, the Diversity Faculty Fellowship from the University of Denver and the Project Athena Doctoral Fellowship from Florida State University.

"Dr. Rodriguez-Mori will be creating the resources our faculty, staff and students need to be successful in using and navigating the all-encompassing area of informational services," said John Dascanio, senior associate dean for academic and student affairs. "This is a crucial position for the school to ensure the connectivity of our participants to the information they may need to make informed decisions in many areas, including animal health, research and education. He will have a long and lasting impact on our program."

Rodriguez-Mori joins Loneragan, Dascanio, associate dean for clinical programs Britt Conklin, professor of surgery David Dutton, assistant professor of general veterinary practice Bethany Schilling, professor of medicine László Hunyadi, professor of surgery Nancy Zimmerman and visiting professor Jerry Black on the faculty for the School of Veterinary Medicine. Additional faculty members will be added over the remainder of the spring, then over the summer and fall.

About the School of Veterinary Medicine

Thanks to the generosity of Amarillo and communities across Texas, and the commitment of legislators from around the state, the Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo, established in 2018, is working to enroll its first class in the fall of 2021, pending approval by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Council on Education.

The School of Veterinary Medicine will recruit and select students with a passion to practice and succeed in rural and regional communities. Its curriculum is focused on the competencies and skills necessary for success in practices that support these communities. Texas Tech's innovative and cost-efficient model partners with the wider community of veterinary practices across the state to provide clinical, real-world experiential learning.

In June, Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law the biennial state budget, which appropriated $17.35 million for the School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo that will go toward operational needs in order to get the school up and running. The appropriation included language directing Texas Tech to move forward in establishing the school.