With its historic rooms renewed, Rush Rhees Library at the University of Rochester will undergo a transformation to open new spaces for better use of information technology, and for academic and social interaction 24 hours a day.
A $5 million gift from the Rochester-based Gleason Foundation accelerates a major $15 million fundraising campaign now under way. The library's east wing-essentially, the back facade of the massive structure with its landmark tower-will be reconfigured. As a major entrance to the library, the new design will create spacious learning environments that enhance a research-based education in the arts, sciences, and engineering.
A Teaching and Learning Center will be established to support collaborative learning where students, library research collections, and state-of-the-art teaching technology will work in unison. Nearby, the College Writing Center will offer technology and space appropriate for 21st-century needs. Throughout the wing, space will be upgraded with a grand staircase, banks of windows, publicly accessible elevators, and other enhancements to this prime location on the River Campus.
"The Gleason gift provides the project with visionary support and is further evidence of the foundation's commitment to the highest quality of education in Rochester," said William Scott Green, dean of the College.
The Gleason Foundation has long been a supporter of the University of Rochester. Two years ago, the foundation gave $500,000 for the renovation of the Great Hall of Rush Rhees Library during the University's sesquicentennial. At the William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration, the foundation has funded capital projects, faculty support, curriculum development, and research.
James S. Gleason, chairman of Gleason Corporation and chairman of the Gleason Foundation, is a Life Trustee of the University and a graduate of the Simon School. Last year, a new building at the Simon School was named in his honor. His wife, Janis, serves as a director of the Gleason Foundation and has been active for many years with the Friends of the University of Rochester Libraries. She is a staunch supporter of literary arts at the library and other organizations in the Rochester community.
"A great university deserves a great library, and enhancing the magnificent existing library building to better meet changing usage simply makes sense," said Mr. Gleason. He earned an MBA at the University in 1968 as a member of the Simon School's first Executive Development Program.
"The dedication of the Gleasons to this institution and to our community makes Rochester the very special place that it is," commented Thomas H. Jackson, president of the University of Rochester. "I am extremely grateful for what the Gleasons have done throughout the years, both at the Simon School and in Rush Rhees Library. They are an inspiration to other alumni and friends."
In the last four years, grand public rooms and spaces in Rush Rhees Library have been renovated. The Messinger Periodical Reading Room, the Welles-Brown Room, the Friedlander Lobby, and the Great Hall have gotten new furnishings and restored classic details. These improvements dovetailed the themes of the Renaissance Plan set forth for the College in 1995 with its emphasis on quality and the value of a residential college experience.
"Through the Gleason gift, I can feel the momentum building to make the learning center a reality," said Ronald F. Dow, the Andrew H. and Janet Dayton Neilly Dean of River Campus Libraries. "This plan brings the same dynamic character that we have in our impressive historic spaces to areas that can meet new educational endeavors."
The Gleason Foundation has served the charitable, cultural, and educational needs of the Rochester community for more than 40 years since its establishment as a private family foundation in 1959. The Gleason family has been intertwined with the University of Rochester for more than a century. In 1903, Eleanor Gleason, the great-aunt of James Gleason, was a member of the first class of women to graduate from the University.
This latest renovation campaign involves sections of the library that were built in 1969 when the east wing was completed. Then, the library added 200,000 square feet to the original brick-and-limestone building constructed in the 1920s, doubled the stack capacity for books and other materials, and laid the groundwork for Rush Rhees to become one of the top 50 research libraries in North America.