Two anonymous gifts totaling more than $5 million will support the creation of an endowed dean’s chair and professorship for University Libraries and name two spaces in Mullins Library at the University of Arkansas, according to a Monday (Jan. 24) news release. The combined total of the gifts makes it the single largest contribution given to University Libraries.
The majority of the contributions will come from a planned commitment and will establish two endowed faculty positions for University Libraries, with $3 million allocated for an endowed dean’s chair and $1.5 million reserved for an endowed professorship in Special Collections. Another $600,000 will support the second phase of Mullins Library renovation and will create a materials and preservation area in Special Collections and an office suite for Arkansas Folk and Traditional Arts, a program of University Libraries.
“It gives us great pleasure to choose the University of Arkansas for our charitable contributions,” the donors said. “We are both from Northwest Arkansas and are graduates of the U of A. As lifelong Razorback fans, we enjoy attending numerous events on campus. We have served on several committees over the years, which has helped us to realize the importance of continued financial support, and through our donations, we are able to designate to areas of need that are of special interest to us.”
The endowed faculty positions will be endowed through an estate gift and will be the first endowed faculty positions for University Libraries. According to the release, the purpose of the endowed dean’s chair will be to attract and recruit “highly qualified individuals” to the position of dean, provide the dean will the resources to further scholarly contributions to teaching, research and public service along with the resources to address challenges and opportunities that may come about throughout the academic year.
“This gift is transformational, and we’re incredibly grateful to be the recipient of such generosity,” said Jason Battles, dean of University Libraries. “Endowing these two key positions is critical for the Libraries’ aspirations to grow our collections, expertise and recruitment as we strive to keep pace with the university’s growing research endeavors. The Phase II gifts come at the perfect time as we commence on the design and planning stage of the final part of the Mullins renovation project.”
The endowed professorship in Special Collections will provide money for the associate dean for the Special Collections division, which supports research, teaching and learning by collecting, preserving and providing access to unique and rare materials.
“This endowment will enable the Special Collections division to amplify many of its existing programs, including collection development, paid student internships, public exhibitions and programming, as well as emerging needs such as multi-modal learning and digital preservation,” said Lori Birrell, associate dean for Special Collections.
The capital support provided by the donors will enhance the work being done to Mullins Library. The second phase of the renovation project is underway, with architectural planning expected to start in the spring semester this year.
“A strong university library can benefit all students and all faculty across all colleges in the university system,” according to the donors. “We have an interest and relationship with multiple colleges at the U of A, so by investing in the University Libraries, we can help support all of them.”