A Look at Larsen


Ron Larsen

Ron Larsen, dean of the School of Information Sciences since July 2002, calls himself a technologist.

“Most of my career has been spent either developing technological solutions to specific systems-level problems, when such solutions have been within my own grasp, or organizing larger programs of research and development to address problems that are beyond the capacity of any single individual,” Larsen said.

His research interests include digital libraries, interoperability, scalability, cross-lingual information retrieval, location-aware computing, mobile computing, computer and network performance analysis, and performance metrics for digital libraries.

He began his career at NASA as a programmer of real-time mission support systems for the Apollo program. Larsen went on to develop NASA’s research program in computer science before moving on to the University of Maryland to serve as assistant vice chancellor for computing. At Maryland, he assumed responsibility for planning and coordinating the development of the administrative and academic computing infrastructure. He also was responsible for advancing the university’s networking facilities among its campuses across Maryland.

In 1988, Larsen accepted a position as associate director of Information Technology for University Libraries at Maryland, with responsibility for developing a networked library information system to support the university’s 13 campuses and laboratories. Concurrently, he helped organize Maryland’s public information network, known as Sailor, a project that continues today. He also was one of the original organizers of the Coalition for Networked Information, a membership organization of educational and industrial institutions committed to the development of a global information infrastructure.

Larsen moved to the Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in 1996, serving first as program manager for information management and digital libraries and, shortly thereafter, as assistant director of the Information Technology Office. He left DARPA in 1999 to become director of the Maryland Applied Information Technology Initiative, a consortium of 10 Maryland universities focusing on the region’s workforce needs for information technology professionals.

Larsen earned the Bachelor of Science degree in engineering sciences at Purdue University in 1968, the Master of Science degree in applied physics at the Catholic University of America in 1971, and the Ph.D. degree in computer science at the University of Maryland, College Park, in 1981.