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Richard S. Halsey, 80, Dean of UAlbany's School of Information and Policy from 1980 to 1993

April 16, 2010

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Former UAlbany Dean Richard S. Halsey

Richard S. Halsey, former dean of UAlbany's School of Information Science and Policy, circa 1983. (Photo Gary Gold)

The University at Albany fondly remembers Richard Sweeney Halsey, former professor and dean of what was then UAlbany's School of Information Science and Policy, who passed away on March 28, 2010, in Dallas, Texas.  Halsey passed away peacefully, after a short illness.

A noted composer and researcher, Halsey served the information profession in numerous capacities right up until his death. But he was perhaps best remembered for his passionate advocacy of citizen action. It came as no surprise then, that at the time of his death he was engaged in a major project documenting the stories of 100 women activists who changed America.

Born April 8, 1929, in North Hollywood, Calif. to John Calvin Sweeney and Grace Thorne Crossman, Richard received his bachelor's in music composition and master's in music education from the New England Conservatory in Boston.  He was honored to have his compositions conducted by Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland, and was proud to be a Conservatory classmate of Coretta Scott King.

Halsey went on to receive his master's degree in library science from Simmons College, Boston, and his doctorate from Case Western University, St. Louis. He served honorably in the U.S. Army from 1955-56.

Halsey first joined UAlbany as a faculty member in library and information science. He became dean of the School of Library and Information Science in 1980, overseeing its transition in 1986 to the School of Information Science and Policy. He guided the School through the change from a traditional school of library science to a modern school of information science, while still maintaining elements of the library science curriculum. By the time he stepped down as dean in 1993, Halsey had laid the groundwork for what would become UAlbany’s College of Computing and Information in 2005. He returned to his teaching position until his retirement in1996.

"A vigorous and enthusiastic leader, Dean Halsey oversaw the transformation of the program from a single MLS degree to include undergraduate, master’s, and Ph.D. programs in Information Science. The basic structure of these degrees are still in use today," said College of Computing and Information Dean Peter Bloniarz.  “For many of us who worked with him personally, Dean Halsey was the epitome of a Renaissance educator, someone whose breadth of interest and gentle enthusiasm for learning came across in every conversation with him.”

Halsey received many honors throughout his distinguished career, including the NYLA Outstanding Service to Libraries (1983), Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Science Alumni Achievement Award (1991), and the New York State Senate Award for Outstanding Public Service (1998).

Exemplifying his commitment to citizen action, Halsey created the Citizens' Library Council of New York State in 1981. He also lobbied throughout his life for grassroots issues, including Common Cause, the Fund for Modern Courts and the League of Women Voters. 

He served on the White House Conference on Library and Information Services Taskforce as Region 1 representative and later, national coordinator. His books include Classical Music Recordings for Home and Library (1976), The Citizen Action Encyclopedia: Groups and Movements That Have Changed America (2001), Lobbying for Public and School Libraries: A History and Political Playbook (2003). Halsey also contributed many encyclopedia and journal articles to the library sciences profession.

Halsey is survived by his beloved wife, Gillian Maclauchlan Clive McCombs of Dallas, daughters Rachel Gratia Halsey of Los Angeles, Gabriela Libra Halsey of Schenectady, N.Y.; stepdaughters Heather Clive McCombs of Appleton, Wis., Willow Lovelace McCombs Newman and husband Kevin of Milan, Mich., Margaret Butterfield McCombs of New York; grandchildren Soja and Bijan Moore of Schenectady, N.Y., James Dean Philip and Georgia Gillian Parnau of Appleton, Wis., and Skyler Adelaide Newman of Milan, Mich.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the New England Conservatory Scholarship Fund or the League of Women Voters. The family extends its grateful thanks to the staff of the 10th floor oncology ward of Medical City for their devoted, loving care. Online condolences may be submitted at www.sparkmanrichardson.com.

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