New Second Century Campaign leadership gifts totaling $8.5 million will provide crucial support for the renovation and updating of two of SMU’s libraries. The gifts were announced as the University continues to celebrate the Year of the Library, part of SMU’s centennial celebration.
The J.S. Bridwell Foundation of Wichita Falls is providing a lead gift of $7.5 million for the renovation and expansion of Bridwell Library in Perkins School of Theology. The Fondren Foundation of Houston has pledged $1 million to support the renovation of Fondren Library Center.
“These generous gifts represent ongoing support from two families who have played major roles in the development of library resources during the University’s first century,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “We are grateful for their past support and for these new gifts, which will help SMU libraries meet evolving needs during the University’s second century.”
The Bridwell Foundation gift will make possible renovations that include consolidating special collections, relocating the special collections reading room, adding study carrels and small group study rooms for Perkins students, improving handicapped accessibility and providing multipurpose space for instruction, study and lectures. The renovations also will create an archives processing and digital lab.
“We are truly grateful for the generous and sustained support the Bridwell Foundation has provided through the years, which has made it possible for Bridwell Library to become one of the major theological research libraries in the United States,” said William B. Lawrence, dean of Perkins School of Theology.
Renovation of Fondren Library Center will update the facility as a center of interactive technology and a vital campus gathering place. In addition to expansion of spaces for individual and group study, the project will bring together the many special collections that are currently distributed throughout the Fondren Library complex in a redesigned Special Collections Research building. A prominent feature of the renovation will be the restoration of the grand reading room, to be known as the Fondren Centennial Reading Room, in the original Fondren Library building.
“The vision and support of the Fondren family played an important role in SMU’s development during its first 100 years, especially in the establishment and growth of the University libraries,” said Gillian M. McCombs, dean and director of Central University Libraries. “It is fitting that the reading room in the original Fondren Library be restored to its former glory and named the Fondren Centennial Reading Room.”
Also as part of the Year of the Library celebration, in July a historic piece of American presidential history will be on display in DeGolyer Library. Jointly presented by SMU and the Bush Presidential Library and Museum, George Washington’s personal copy of the Acts of Congress, including the U.S. Constitution and a draft of the Bill of Rights with his own handwritten notations, will be on display for two weeks, July 14 through July 27. The Washington loan is part of a larger exhibit at DeGolyer, “Hail to the Chief: Presidential History in Word and Image,” which will include featured political memorabilia from the Library’s collections through September 6.
In addition, in April SMU’s Board of Trustees announced the acquisition of SMU libraries’ four millionth volume, a newly discovered 1817 manuscript, An Account of Four Years Travels by John Maley. The book was presented to DeGolyer Library as a tribute to former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Welch Bush ’68. The manuscript presents the first half of an extended description of new territories in the American West, at that time recently gained through the Louisiana Purchase.
With the combination of future enhancements to SMU’s libraries, upcoming exhibitions and the addition of the Maley volume, SMU’s libraries are well poised to begin a partnership with the George W. Bush Presidential Center, including the Bush Presidential Library and Museum. To learn more, please visit www.smu.edu/100/yearofthelibrary or contact Paulette Mulry at 214-768-1741 or firstname.lastname@example.org.