Press Releases:

$7.5 Million Gift in Support of Library and More

Finance & Management Journalism Library Provost's Office
March 28, 2018

Denison University announces the college’s William Howard Doane Library will undergo a $5.7 million renovation as part of a gift totaling $7.5 million from Sue Douthit O’Donnell, a member of the Denison Class of 1967, and her husband, Bob. The gift is in support of the Unlocking Potential: Investing in Denison comprehensive campaign, and also provides funding for Denison’s recently added academic program in journalism. Sue and Bob live in the San Francisco Bay area.

“Libraries, in combination with the classroom, are foundational elements of a college campus,” said Denison University President Adam Weinberg. “Sue’s magnificent gift to Denison will boost our students’ academic achievements to even greater heights by enhancing their study and research environment in our beautiful and architecturally significant library. This is a transformational gift that will add functionality and aesthetics to the library, augment the study environment for our students, and beautify our campus. We are honored by and grateful for Sue’s generosity.”

Sue’s appreciation for documents and libraries began with her parents. Her mother was head reference librarian at the State of Ohio Library, and her father was an editor and writer. “Books and documents are important not just because of what they contain, but also for themselves,” she said. “For example, it is important both to preserve Denison’s collection of medieval manuscripts as historical documents and to share them as research sources. Libraries also are special places where people come together and collaborate. I am excited and proud to help enable preservation of the Denison library building.”

The gift also will provide funding for Denison’s recently added academic program in narrative nonfiction writing, which combines literary attention to storytelling with in-depth, fact-based research. “This gift is helping to fund exceptional opportunities for our students,” said Jack Shuler, associate professor of English and director of the program. “We are helping our students connect with professions in writing, funding internships and travel, and bringing speakers to campus to share their own stories, industry information, and networks.”

The majority of the gift, $5.7 million, will allow Denison to renovate both the 1936 and 1958 sections of the William Howard Doane Library. The original entrance to the library, at the top of the limestone steps, will be reinstated, with a new lobby and reception space. The 1936 building of the library complex, which includes the President’s Room, Gallery, and third-floor reading rooms will be renovated and named Douthit Hall. Interior work within the 1958 sections will include renovations to the basement, 2nd, 3rd and 4th floors, as well as the government documents section. These renovations will include replacement of HVAC and mechanical systems, roofs and the replacement of windows. A portion of the library renovation will begin this summer and will be completed over the summer of 2019.

“The library is the intellectual hub of the campus, both in real and virtual terms,” said BethAnn Zambella, the director of libraries at Denison. “At Denison, we are also lucky to be a physical nexus on campus—we average over 1500 visitors a day during the school year. This opportunity to extend the life of the building is likewise an occasion to improve the student experience and positively impact the faculty, staff and alums who cross our threshold. We can’t thank Sue enough for her interest in restoring the grandeur of the building while simultaneously addressing the needs and expectations of 21st-century scholars.”

The William Howard Doane Library was built in 1936, of Harvard brick laid in Flemish bond with Bedford limestone trim. Details draw from Georgian style though facade mimics that of the south front of the Petit Trianon in the Garden of Versailles. The stacks portion of the library was extended in 1957, and in 1981, the Seeley G. Mudd Learning Resources Center, including an atrium with gallery space, was added to the complex. Denison’s library systems are both technology-driven and “high-touch.” They include digital and hard-copy books, periodicals and resources, access to course reserves, interlibrary loans, media equipment, citation guides, and copyright and fair use information. The library staff have degrees in library science as well as further education that allow them to liaise effectively with specific academic disciplines and to be valuable resources for Denison students.