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Donors vital to OSU library revamp

Jeff Simpson / The Lantern

After 15 years of planning and construction, Ohio State’s $109 million William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library renovation was completed this summer. Roughly $30 million was collected from private donors, which university officials say was essential to the project’s success.

“It was a special challenge to raise the cash for this,” said Raimund Goerler, interim director of University Libraries. “I’m truly delighted at the support from our donors.”

There were 2,200 donors and most of the gifts came from either community friends or alumni, said Gay Jackson, director of development for University Libraries.

Donors who gave a minimum of $5,000 are listed on a plaque by the library entrance bordering The Oval, Goerler said. Donors who wanted to be the namesake of office space were required to donate at least $25,000. Larger contributions were honored with larger spaces, Jackson said.

Pat and Thom Robinson made the largest private donation, and an entire wing of the library was named in their honor.

The Mortar Board, an alumni group, also donated a significant amount and became the namesake of the Mortar Board Centennial Suite on the second floor.

The Department of Athletics, with the Student-Athlete Advisory Board, gave $9 million to the renovation project. The Buckeye Reading Room serves as a tribute to their donation and is meant to “honor student athletes,” said Wesley Boomgaarden, the library renovation project officer.

The donation “shows how involved the athletic department is … and shows the partnership between academics and athletics,” Jackson said.

Another sizeable donation was made by football coach Jim Tressel and wife Ellen Tressel, who served as co-chairs on the contribution campaign. The outdoor Tressel Terrace honors them and is located on the fourth floor.

Tressel has also promised continued contribution, donating all of the royalties from his book, “The Winners Manual,” to the library.

“He is a very significant supporter and it’s an excellent partnership,” Goerler said.

The Cohen and Creighton family also donated significant amounts, Goerler said. The Grand Reading Room was named for the Cohens and the Special Collections Reading Room named for the Creightons.

Multiple additional donors who provided significant gifts were honored with spaces such as study rooms and lounges. John and Shirley Berry had the Berry Cafe and Terrace named to honor their contribution and a map room is named for the Gardner Family.
The square footage of the spaces are parallel to the amount of the donation made, Goerler said.

“We wanted to recognize and encourage donors,” Jackson said.

Even before construction of the library had been completed, donors were able to see the spaces that were available in the campaign brochures. Hard hat tours were available and many donors were given tours of their spaces, as well as the progress of the library, Jackson said.

The OSU Board of Trustees approved the naming of the internal spaces Friday.

The grand opening and ribbon cutting of the Thompson Library will be at 4 p.m. today.

“The donors have been recognized by an event thrown by the Robinson family,” Jackson said. “And this event is for students … and faculty to celebrate.”

The completed library has exceeded expectations, she said.

“We were just very fortunate to get so much support,” Jackson said. “It is an outstanding library. It’s what everyone who donated wanted to see. If you were a donor, you’d just be so proud.”

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