University of Illinois

Donor Profiles

Meet our generous alumni and friends and learn more about why they decided to donate to GSLIS.

Don Davis and Mark Tucker

Danuta Gorecki

Mary and Bill Stewart

Two Donors Honor the History of the Profession

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Classmates and friends Mark Tucker and Don Davis at a recent symposium.

Don Davis (PhD ’72) loves history.

"History is the queen of the social sciences," said Davis, who arrived at the University of Illinois in 1968 with masters degrees in history and in library and information science.

"My experience at the University of Illinois awakened my interest in the history of libraries," said Davis. Under the mentorship of Rolland Stevens, who taught courses in the history of books and libraries, Davis finished his degree and was recruited by the University of Texas to teach history of libraries and books. For nearly 30 years he edited The Journal of Library History, in 1988 retitled Libraries & Culture, published quarterly by University of Texas Press.

"I'm one of the only people to make a living teaching the history of libraries," continued Davis. "Most people can't spend their whole professional life concentrating on library history."

For that reason, Davis is one of the GSLIS alumni who have contributed to the History of Libraries and the Information Professions Endowed Chair, a $2 million endowment that will provide funds to support part of the salary of the faculty member who holds the chair, a graduate student fellowship, and relevant library collections and services.

"GSLIS is currently one of only three units at the University with no endowed chair," said Diana Stroud, assistant dean of advancement and alumni relations. "For our top-ranked school, it's important that we have such a chair to support this piece of the profession that we don’t want to lose.

"Thanks to generous alumni like Don Davis, Mark Tucker and Laurel Grotzinger, we're close to making this endowed chair, a priority of the GSLIS Brilliant Futures campaign, a reality," said Stroud. The Brilliant Futures campaign ends in June 2011.

Mark Tucker (PhD ’83) wants to ensure that students at Illinois continue to have the opportunity to receive the historical perspective in librarianship that he did. "Professionally, the most important thing I do is write about the history of the profession," said Tucker, who is dean of the library and information resources at Abilene Christian University in Texas. "I learned how to do library history from Don Krummel, and he changed my life."

GSLIS has a strong tradition of providing instruction and conducting research in this area. Today GSLIS faculty including Alistair Black, Bonnie Mak, Kathryn La Barre, Kate McDowell, Christine Jenkins, and Dan Schiller, are among the nation's most noted scholars in this field.

Tucker remembers taking classes from Rolland Stevens, Kathryn Luther Henderson, and Linda Smith. "GSLIS has great faculty. They encouraged me to find the perspective that was right for me and helpful to the profession."

Contributors to the fund recognize that the history of the field is critical to progression in library science. "The professor who holds that chair will be able to attract doctoral students who will be able to maintain that interest in the history of the profession," said Davis. "As the schools in the country increasingly regard cultural history and roots of the profession as irrelevant, there should be at least one place in the nation to maintain the tradition."

"Illinois is the perfect location for this chair," said Davis. "It has a phenomenal alumni base, which is library oriented, and has the premiere collection of library research materials, including the ALA archives." Davis has also contributed his personal papers to Illinois, including material relating to Libraries & Culture (formerly the Journal of Library History and now Libraries & The Cultural Record).

One of Davis' hopes is that his fellow GSLIS alumni will work together to create this important chair. For more information on the fund, please contact Diana Stroud, assistant dean for advancement at (217) 244-9577 or dstroud@illinois.edu.

Gorecki Fund to Remove Barriers to Graduate Education

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GSLIS is pleased to announce the creation of the Danuta Gorecki Scholarship Fund in Library Science. Made possible by a generous gift by Danuta Gorecki (MS ’73), the scholarship will be given annually to one student in support of his or her studies. Danuta hopes that her support will remove barriers for students as they pursue their graduate degree.

Danuta spent her years as a young scholar in occupied Poland during World War II, when all universities had been closed. She became active in the Polish Home Army and Resistance movement. She began studying law in the underground university, a network of scholars and teachers who continued to provide education despite the deteriorating political conditions of the country.

In 1946, Danuta was incarcerated for her post-war activities in the anti-Communist Resistance and remained in a maximum security political prison until her release in 1950. After being released, Danuta completed her law degree and became a corporate attorney until immigration to the United States in 1968.

After earning her master’s degree in library and information science at GSLIS in 1973, Danuta spent seventeen years as a cataloger and bibliographer in the University of Illinois Library where she worked in the Slavic Library, the Law Library and the Rare Book & Manuscript Library. In 1990 she was named head of the Classics Library, where she remained until retirement in 1992.

At Illinois she was able to pursue scholarship, publishing numerous articles on topics ranging from legal history of the Roman and Byzantine Empires to the history of Polish librarianship. “I was happy to do research because I could finally pursue that type of academic involvement from which I was barred under Soviet occupation,” she said.

Danuta is especially proud of her participation in the 900-year anniversary of the University of Bologna in Italy—the first European university. “I read one substantial paper and three smaller ones—all published either individually or as part of an edited collection. Symbolically this comprised the peak of my professional career and was made possible only by the Graduate School of Library and Information Science.”

Danuta’s daughter Marysia Nowak (MS ’83; CAS ’94) is also a GSLIS alumna.

Gifts to the fund can be made by contacting Sharon Johnson, Associate Director of Advancement at GSLIS, (217) 244-6473 or sdjohnso@illinois.edu.

Couple’s Support Extends Reach of CCB

Mary Stewart has a lifelong love of books.  So when she heard Betsy Hearne, former director of the Center for Children’s Books (CCB) and professor emerita, speak about literacy and children’s books in St. Louis, she felt inspired to get involved. Soon afterwards, she and husband Bill visited GSLIS and met with faculty and staff.

“When Bill and I visited the Center, it seemed like a place that was so alive and vibrant,” she said. “The interests and goals of the people we met were on the same wavelength as ours, and there was such a family-like feeling.”

Given that the rich programmatic and research initiatives of the Center closely aligned with the Stewarts’s values, a natural partnership emerged: the Stewarts generously funded a graduate assistantship position devoted to outreach. “We wanted to ensure that children continue to know about the printed word, which is key to developing healthy imaginations,” she said.

Master’s student Corrie Ball, who currently holds the assistantship, has used her creativity and enthusiasm to extend the reach and scope of the Center into the community. She has created continuing education workshops for teachers; served on University-sponsored event committees, such as the Youth Literature Festival; and organized storytelling events at local community centers.

“I’m so grateful to the Stewarts for making this position possible, and I’m honored to be the first CCB outreach graduate assistant,” said Ball. “As a future school librarian, the skills I’ve learned will help me better implement new ideas and organize activities for a wide range of audiences.”

According to Christine Jenkins, associate professor and current director, “Having a graduate assistant devoted to CCB outreach has enabled us to increased our visibility on campus and in the larger community of librarians, teachers, parents, and others who share our interest in young people, literacy, and literature. Increased visibility has meant increased opportunities to collaborate with community groups, to share our unique resources with researchers and practitioners, and to promote quality children’s and young adult literature. Corrie’s outreach activities fuel the Center’s continued growth.”

Bill Stewart earned his bachelor of architecture degree and master’s in architectural engineering from Illinois in the 1950s. He is a retired architect who founded the St. Louis architectural firm of Stewart, Schaberg & Turner. Mary is a graduate of Colorado College and a retired school teacher. They recently celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary with a gathering of family and friends, including their two children and four grandchildren. Bill is an avid cyclist, runner, and Illini sports fan, and they both are active in the St. Louis community.

By supporting the activities of the Center, the Stewarts are able to share their love of books and reading beyond their immediate family. Their thoughtfulness extends not only to children in the local community but also to the many students, scholars, teachers, and librarians who benefit from the Center’s outstanding research and resources.


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