MERCED, CA. — Doris Gonella and her late husband Louis Gonella always believed in the value of education. When they heard that the University of California might establish a campus in the San Joaquin Valley, the Gonellas worked hard to make it happen.
The Gonellas were quick to volunteer for the community campaign to locate the 10th UC campus in Merced - the place they chose to raise their family and the community that supported the successful development of Gonella Realty, founded by the couple in 1974. For many years, a banner welcoming the new campus hung from the local Gonella offices as a public statement of their support.
As a tribute to her husband after he passed away in 2001, Doris Gonella created the Louis P. Gonella Memorial Scholarship at UC Merced. Now she has donated additional funds to create the Louis P. Gonella and Doris M. Gonella Discovery Room in the Kolligian Library.
“Lou worked tirelessly to bring the new UC campus to Merced because he so believed in higher education and what the University of California stands for,” says Doris Gonella, whose son is a UC alumnus and granddaughter is currently a student at UC Irvine.
“In thinking about how I would like to honor Lou, I was drawn to the Kolligian Library and Librarian Bruce Miller's vision for a 21st-century library as a dynamic place where students will gather and study, and where the exploration of ideas begins,” she says.
Taking shape on the second floor above the library's café, the Gonella Discovery Room will be the primary site for teaching students library research skills. This groundbreaking instruction room will offer students information and hands-on practice in finding, evaluating and applying information for their course assignments and for a lifetime of learning.
“I see the Gonella Discovery Room as a test bed - a place to experiment with new technology and innovative modes of instruction - and a model for other rooms as the library grows,” says University Librarian Bruce Miller. “We will have a state-of-the-art facility because of Doris Gonella's thoughtfulness. On a personal level, her support is important to me because it connects the library to the Merced community, helping declare the community's ownership and making it real.”
Library improvements to be funded through the Gonella donation include additional furniture, streaming video equipment, an electronic whiteboard and high-tech video displays to enhance instruction in the room. The gift also provides an endowment to keep the equipment functioning and up to date in the future.
“It's very exciting to me to think of the technology that will be available in the library, where students will transform their ideas into research,” says Doris Gonella. “Lou and I shared the dream of UC Merced and of helping this campus provide a wonderful opportunity for children in our area to attend a first-class university.”