When Dale Hoiberg, AM’74, PhD’93, started at Encyclopaedia Britannica, he thought it would be a one-year hiatus from his doctoral studies. Thirty years later Hoiberg is Britannica’s editor in chief.
Hoiberg began his studies at the University of Chicago in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, completing his thesis on Chinese romantic poet Xu Zhimo in 1974.
His “hiatus,” however, quickly turned into a career. Hoiberg worked his way up to positions in international product development as Britannica launched encyclopedias in Japan, Hungary, Poland, and India.
After nearly a decade with Britannica, Hoiberg resumed his doctoral studies with the encouragement of former UChicago professor Akira Iriye. Soon Hoiberg was working under the famed sinologist David Tod Roy on an English translation of an imperial-era opera, writing his dissertation while continuing to work at Brittanica. Shortly after completing his doctorate in 1993, Hoiberg was promoted to editor in chief, a position he continues to hold.
During Hoiberg’s tenure at Britannica the business model for reference materials has shifted dramatically with the use of online materials and digital publishing. But Hoiberg says the Encyclopaedia Brittanica is still relevant in an age of instant access to information. “Most of us don’t need all the information in the world,” Hoiberg wrote in an email debate with Wikipedia cofounder Jimmy Wales published in the Wall Street Journal. “We need information that yields knowledge—a practical and enlightened understanding of ourselves and the world we live in.”
Read the full profile of Dale Hoiberg in the University of Chicago Magazine.