Past Mortenson Center Directors and Distinguished Professors

Marianna Choldin
Photo by Kelley Ryan

Marianna Tax Choldin

1991 – 2003

Founding Director and Mortenson Distinguished Professor, constructed visiting scholar programs to breathe life into C. Walter Mortenson’s belief that sharing of information was one of the shortest and surest roads to world peace. Drawing on her expertise in Slavic Studies, she began by inviting librarians from that region to come to the University of Illinois to participate in unique, non-degree programs to enrich their knowledge of US academic library systems and computer applications for implementation in their home countries. Tax Choldin’s focus was outward, working extensively in Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean.


Barbara J. Ford

2003 – 2014

Read Ms. Ford’s Retirement Press Release

Ford took the helm at the Center as its second Director and Mortenson Distinguished Professor in 2003. She built on its strong beginnings, expanding the Center’s work in East Africa and Asia. Ford complemented Tax Choldin’s work by focusing inward, consolidating relationships and the Center’s standing within the University and the State of Illinois. The Center worked closely with librarians at the University of Illinois and around the state to share expertise and enhance programs to develop librarians worldwide. An evaluation by Arabella Advisors conducted at the end of Ford’s tenure showed the Center’s strong impact on participating librarians and their respective libraries.

Paula Kaufman

Paula T. Kaufman

Interim Director, 2014-2015

Kaufman worked at the Center for one year as Interim Director and Mortenson Distinguished Professor. With expertise as an academic library leader, Kaufman explored strategic university partnerships, including with academic libraries in Taiwan and India. Serving in a transitional role, she focused on both developing strategies emanating from the Arabella Advisors’ Evaluation Report (2013) that would position the Center for the future, and facilitating the selection and transition to the next Director and Distinguished Professor.

Clara Chu

Clara M. Chu

2015 – Present

Chu is the current Director and Mortenson Distinguished Professor, with expertise in multicultural and international librarianship, and experience as an educator, researcher and administrator. She plans on using information and communication technologies to expand the Center’s reach and increase access to the Center’s activities and research. She aims to create information resources to bolster the capacity of librarians and libraries to promote education, understanding, and peace locally, for collective global impact.