W&J Board of Trustees Chair Richard Clark pledges donation to campus library

Created: May 2, 2018
Last Updated: July 29, 2020

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WASHINGTON, PA (May 2, 2018)–Exciting changes are coming to campus.

Washington & Jefferson College’s U. Grant Miller Library will receive a complete renovation thanks to a generous gift from W&J Board of Trustees Chair Richard T. Clark ’68 and his wife, Angela.

The Clarks’ donation is the leadership gift of the $6 million project that makes the upgrades possible. In recognition of the Clarks’ commitment to W&J and its students, the library will be renamed in their honor.

“My time at W&J challenged me to think critically, to grow as an individual, and to understand what it truly means to be part of a community. I’m proud to say that culture is still in place today,” Clark said. “I consider myself fortunate to be in a position where I can give back to the College that taught me so much, and to help provide resources for its outstanding students.”

The donation, which was announced during Homecoming weekend, will provide for a comprehensive update of the current library space. The upper level will be turned into an Information Commons, or a gathering space for patrons to read, socialize and collaborate. The addition of small, conference-style study rooms will give students space to work together on projects without disturbing other patrons.

“We are excited about the library renovations and know that they will provide an improved user experience,” said Director of Library Services Ronalee Ciocco. “The renovated library will provide more collaborative work spaces for students, including study rooms and flexible furniture to accommodate a variety of learning styles and study.”

Other updates to the library include a renovation to the lower level that will support the library’s collection and expand quiet study areas, along with an upgrade to the User Services Desk that will make asking for help easier. The renovation will include a digital classroom for faculty and librarians to use as an instructional space and that will also be available to students. The historic Walker Room will be updated with new finishes and a new entryway space will be developed, but the original endowed furniture, fireplace, light fixtures will remain in the room.

The project also will upgrade the archives to include special shelving for the College’s unique first editions and rare books, as well as space for reading, researching and processing.

“The Learned T. Bulman ’48 Historic Archives and Museum will be expanded to allow more use of our unique historical collections,” Ciocco said. “The renovation will also allow us to improve our services for students, faculty and staff by combining service points on the main floor so a patron can go to one desk for any question that they have and get an answer.”

Many of the changes being made in the library are a direct response to student requests made in surveys from 2013 and 2017. Request for more comfortable furniture, improvement in technology, added group study areas and more ADA compliant restrooms, among others, are being addressed through the renovation.

“I think that the renovation will draw more students to the library, making it a more study friendly and resourceful environment. I am excited to come back next year to a new library,” said Claudia Peterman ’19, a student library worker.

“A History of Success and Innovation”

The U. Grant Miller Library was opened for student use in the spring of 1966 and at first was simply referred to as the College Library. At the time, the new building was state of the art, an upgrade from the library’s previous home in the current Thompson Hall. The alumni magazine gushed over its many features.

“It should be understood that architecturally [the Library] compares favorably with its many recently erected counterparts on college and university campuses throughout the country,” the Spring 1966 edition of the magazine touted. “Not only has it more than twice the space of its predecessor, but that space is arranged in ways that provides quiet and isolation for study that were not possible before.”

When the new building was completed in the mid-60s, microfilm reader-printers, instant copiers, and inter-library television equipment were lauded in the alumni magazine. In 1993, the library implemented the use of an electronic catalog and it added internet access in 1996. The library continues to stay current with technology trends, and the renovation project will further their mission to provide W&J students access to the materials they need.

“The history of success and innovation at W&J speaks for itself,” Clark said. “I look forward to watching the College continue its tradition of excellence for years to come.”

Work on the project is scheduled to begin in Mid-May and be completed by the end of August.

About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.

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