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Thank you all for being here. Today is a special day in the life of the college, and a special day for the library, in particular.
We're here today to carry on a tradition of giving that began 95 years ago with a man by the name of George Fisher Baker. George's gift, in honor of his uncle, Fisher Ames Baker, Class of 1859, launched the planning and construction of Baker Memorial Library, which opened in 1928.
That same year, Edwin W. Sanborn presented a major gift for the endowment of continued library support.
And in 1992, another generous alumnus – John W. Berry, Class of 1944 – stepped forward to fund the construction of a library for the 21st Century with what was then the largest individual donation in Dartmouth's history. John's gift, along with gifts from his son George, Class of '66, the Loren M. Berry Foundation, and George F. Baker III, combined to create what we now know as Baker-Berry Library.
There have been others who have made transformative gifts to the Dartmouth library, too: Jones and Rauner, among them.
All of these names are synonymous with our library system. They are individuals and families who have recognized our libraries as the lifeblood of the College. A place where the community gathers to study, write, conduct research, and learn from the past in order to build a better future.
Today, it gives me great pleasure to see another distinguished Dartmouth alumnus join this remarkable list, and I'm especially thrilled that it's happening in our 250th Anniversary year.
That person is Rick Reiss, Class of 1966.
Rick and his family have been steadfast supporters of the College for decades. They have not one, but two scholarship funds in their family's name, have generously supported collections and programming at The Hood Museum of Art, and have served the institution both on the Hood Museum of Art Board of Advisors and on the President's Leadership Council.
Today, I'm thrilled to announce that Rick and his family have made an extraordinary $10 million commitment to the Library as part of our Call to Lead campaign.
In just a few moments, Sue Mehrer will come back to the stage to tell you about what this gift will mean for the future of the library, but right now, I'm delighted to share that in honor of the Reiss's incredible gift, this remarkable foyer – the gathering place for so many in our community – will, from this point forward, forever be known as Reiss Hall.
As I think about the role of the library in the intellectual life of the college, I can't help but recall a story that was shared by one of our most esteemed faculty members: Mary Flanagan, The Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor in Digital Humanities.
It's a story about the day she interviewed at Dartmouth in December of 2007. Not surprisingly, we were in the midst of a blizzard in Hanover. After a long day of interviews capped off by a dinner with Dartmouth artists and scholars, Mary retreated to her room at the Hanover Inn, reflecting on what it would be like to conduct her research here, while gazing out across the bright, white green.
She wrote about it in a letter to our Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences. Mary's words conveyed the library's special place in our community so eloquently and so powerfully that I wish to share them with you now.
"The library glowed in an almost supernatural fashion," she wrote. "It was nearing midnight, but the building looked open, so I grabbed my coat and slushed over. The library was packed. It was the end of the term and the students filled the tables, the computer stations, even plunked themselves down in the hallways to craft final papers and review for their exams. I went looking in the stacks for my favorite subjects – 20th century art, digital culture studies, experimental French literature, values in technology. I was not disappointed. The incredibly well-stocked library took my breath away. Nearly everything I could think of had some representation in the stacks. And further, I was not the only person looking. There were actual students using books! Standing in the Baker main hall, I felt the weight of history, the sheer importance of the institution. I thought of the years of dedication it took to build the college, and to sustain it so it thrives. I also speculated on the impact I could have with its influence and loyal networks if I were to join its mission, and how intellectually stimulating – and fun – the whole prospect might be. I left in the wee hours of the morning, the big door creaking behind me like the portals of a great cathedral of learning where I could play my part in transformative thinking. I said yes when I was invited to come along on this great adventure we call Dartmouth College."
To Rick and all of the members of the Reiss family with us this afternoon, we cannot thank you enough for investing in this most special place. We are so grateful for your leadership and know it will inspire others to follow your fine example in keeping the library at the forefront of teaching and learning, always.