Magazine On-line [fall 2009]
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Transylvania receives $1 million grant from James Graham Brown Foundation

Transylvania has received a $1 million grant from the James Graham Brown Foundation in support of a $6.2 million initiative to expand the University’s library resources. Half of the award is a challenge grant that requires the college to raise the remaining $5.2 million.

“We are very appreciative of the foundation’s board of trustees in making this award,” said President Charles L. Shearer. “Expanding and improving our library resources is essential to the future of Transylvania as a leading liberal arts college, and this generous grant will take us far in that direction.”

Mandy Todd in the libraryThe library project is a key component of the 2009-2012 Strategic Plan, which was approved by the University’s Board of Trustees in May. The vision is to expand the contemporary holdings of the library while also creating a program to take better advantage of the University’s historic and prestigious holdings in 19th-century documents, scientific artifacts, portraiture, and early books and art.

The Brown Foundation grant will be applied specifically to the establishment of a $2 million endowment for the acquisition of books, periodicals, and on-line resources that will support student and faculty study and research.

“A liberal arts college is measured to a great degree by the quality of the library resources available on its campus,” Shearer said. “Recent faculty hires have added dynamic new areas of study to our curriculum, and more students are undertaking grant-funded research. Our goal is not necessarily to have the largest collection among our benchmark institutions, but to have the best collection to meet the needs of our unique programs.”

The strategic plan envisions adding 30-50,000 physical-copy and on-line books, as well as database, periodical, and reference resources, over the next five years. Ultimately, the collection will grow to about 190,000 physical volumes and another 100,000 books on-line.

The other part of the library initiative involves the often unique and historically significant holdings in Transylvania’s Special Collections and the Moosnick Medical and Science Museum. These items relate to U.S. and scientific history and scholarship in general, but also tell the compelling story of Transylvania’s central role in bringing higher education—especially scientific and medical training—to the Trans-Allegheny West.

Students in the libraryThe plan envisions an addition to the library that would house a museum/special collections area and a new staff position of historian/archivist. That person would be responsible for increasing the accessibility of the college’s historic holdings to students, researchers, and scholars, including the development of a summer outreach program for high school history and civics teachers.

“Transylvania was at the center of American history during the 19th century,” said Shearer. “In order to make Transylvania a ‘destination’ for those seeking to understand American history and to view our own rich history and vibrant present, we need to combine our historic holdings into a central location or museum.”

For information on supporting the library initiative, contact the development office at (800) 487-2679.

Click here to make a gift now.

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