Bruce Taggart, the man behind the renovation of both Lehigh libraries and of campus technology, is making what he calls a “life pivot” after 20 enriching years as vice provost of Library and Technology Services.
Taggart came to Lehigh from Oregon at the request of Gregory Farrington, the president of Lehigh at the time. Taggart assumed the role as vice provost of Library and Technology Services and has overseen both libraries and all the campus technology and enterprise systems.
“Bruce (Taggart) came to Lehigh at probably the best possible time for Lehigh,” said Jack Lule, Iacocca professor and chair of the department of journalism and communication. “We really needed somebody with a sort of vision on how libraries were going to change and evolve, and he was the perfect person for that.”
In his time at Lehigh, Taggart supervised the transformation of both Linderman Library and E.W. Fairchild-Martindale Library.
“One of the first things I said when I got here was that Linderman Library could be one of the most beautiful libraries I’ve ever been in, but it has a few issues,” Taggart said. “It had only been upgraded twice in 150 years. There were only two bathrooms in there. There were no classrooms. (There was) no access for people with disabilities.”
Because of Taggart, Linderman Library offers more study spaces, classrooms for students and more bathrooms, and is now one of the most disability-friendly buildings on campus.
Taggart worked to make the libraries a hub for students. He said he wants them to be places where students want to be. E.W. Fairchild-Martindale Library has also seen major changes to accomplish this goal.
“(Updating E.W. Fairchild-Martindale Library) has been going on in various stages for almost six years now,” said Greg Reihman, associate vice provost for Library and Technology Services and director of the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning. “(Taggart) set a direction for us all in that we need to increase student seating, we need to make our study spaces more vibrant, socially collaborative, bring new technologies into the space and get more services for the students that were more upfront and visible. We’ve been chunking away at that, a floor at a time.”
The role of Library and Technology Services changed over the years.
Taggart said 20 years ago, working with Library and Technology Services was not as dynamic.
“Now, they come (to Library and Technology Services) to change their thinking, incorporate technologies, change how they teach, their research,” he said. “The faculty now feel like they have resources.”
Taggart said his team made it all possible. He relied heavily on them to help implement his ideas successfully.
“Bruce (Taggart) is a very impressive leader in that he has a very powerful ability, I think, to see around corners into the future to see what’s coming for technology in higher education,” Reihman said. “…What’s been great about working with him is that it’s an open conversation about the options that we have and what we should be doing in the space.”
Reihman said though Taggart makes the final decisions, he works in collaboration with the leadership team.
Lule said Taggart provided students with spaces for studying and collaborating, while also keeping the technology updated.
“For as long as he’s been here, he has been a colleague and, really, just a co-educator,” Lule said. “He has had as much to do with the education of Lehigh students as anybody…He’s left a really significant mark on Lehigh.”
Taggart will be leaving his team in January, but he said he feels confident they will continue to do great things.
Taggart said he will travel for six months, during which he will think about his future plans. He said he does not think he has lost any excitement or energy, and he said he is open to opportunities in similar positions, or in consulting or writing.
“Lehigh has got a great family spirit,” Taggart said. “My kids grew up here. I still consider a lot of the faculty to be my good friends. It was a great place to spend 20 years. I thank Lehigh for really allowing me freedom to experiment, to try new things, to push the envelope…Would I do it all over again? Yes. Of course I would. It’s been great.”