December 5, 2001: President's Page
Libraries have traditionally
been at the heart of a great university. They are both repositories of
Thanks to a generous gift from
Dennis Keller 63, chair and chief executive officer of DeVry Inc.,
and a University Trustee, we recently opened the Friend Center for Engineering
Education which includes a new library for the School of Engineering and
Applied Science. Designed by the distinguished architect Henry Cobb of
the architectural firm Pei Cobb Freed & Partners of New York, the
Friend Center is a beautiful structure attached to the Computer Science
Building on William Street. The multi-tiered library features access to
electronic journals and more than 2,000 electronic books. Every seat is
wired for power and a special room
The Friend Center is much more
than a library. The classrooms it contains promote the kinds of collaborative
work that are essential in the science and engineering disciplines. At
night it becomes the gathering place for budding engineers, as well as
students in the sciences,
At the November Board of Trustees meeting I had the great pleasure of announcing a second gift from a University Trustee in support of our libraries. Peter Lewis 55, chair of The Progressive Corporation, has given the University $60 million that will allow us to construct a new library for the sciences. The University has engaged the renowned architect Frank Gehry to design the new facility on the corner of Washington Road and Ivy Lane in the heart of what has become the science quadrant of campus. The new library will connect underground to the existing mathematics and physics libraries and will consolidate the collections of the Departments of Chemistry, Molecular Biology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Geosciences.
This will reverse a long-stand-ing
practice of distributing the science libraries within individual departments,
a practice that has become increasingly illogical as science has become
more inter-disciplinary. For example the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative
Genomics, which is under construction near the new library, will house
faculty from chemistry, physics, computer science, chemical engineering
and molecular biology, reflecting the ways in which a new field can overrun
traditional disciplinary boundaries. You have only to consider a recent
course approved by the faculty called Microbial Biogeochemistry
and Microbial Ecology to gain a sense of the growing significance
of cross-discipline research to teaching and scholarship.
The new library will bring
together a revolutionary architect and an exciting challenge to design
a 21st century library capable of adapting to the rapidly changing landscape
in science publishing and information retrieval. As at the Friend Center,
the new science library will contain modern and flexible classrooms and
study spaces for students, with easy access to the University network.
We will move our increasingly popular Digital Map and Geospatial Information
Center from its current location in Guyot Hall to the new building. It
will also be the home for our Education Technology Center, a unit within
the Office of Information Technology that works with faculty to develop
computer tools for integrating information technology into our curriculum.
This group also is developing distance learning courses to serve better
the educational interests of our alumni. The new library will have the
added advantage of freeing up space in the departments that is now used
for books and journals for conversion into new offices and research laboratories.
The Friend Center and the new science library will enhance measurably the experience of undergraduates in science and engineering courses. They will provide students with easily accessible education about the latest technological toolstools that facilitate the collaborative approach to problem solving, which is part of the culture of these disciplines. Both the Friend Center and the new library made possible by the gift from Peter Lewis will assure that information flows beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries to nourish our teaching and research endeavors.