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UC Merced Kolligian Library Receives Major Gift In Memory of McFadden-Willis Children

February 11, 2003

MERCED, CA — The University of California, Merced has been pledged a gift of more than $250,000 to provide enhancements to the Kolligian Library on the new campus being constructed. The committed endowment is from the non-profit McFadden-Willis Children Memorial Foundation, which was created in memory of Melanie, Stanley, Stuart, and Michelle, who were the children of Merced veterinarian Dr. Christine McFadden.

The McFadden-Willis Children gift allows for the University to create upgrades to the fourth-floor reading room of the Kolligian library including special wood paneling, furniture, and fixtures not normally eligible for state funding. Additional funds from the gift will create an endowment to fund the purchase of books in perpetuity.

“In recognition of this very thoughtful gift, I am pleased to announce that the fourth-floor reading room will be formally named The McFadden/Willis Reading Room to honor the memory of the McFadden/Willis children,” said Chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey. “Through this generous donation to the Kolligian Library and other projects, Dr. McFadden and the foundation are creating an educational legacy that will benefit young people for generations to come. I am touched that Dr. McFadden has chosen UC Merced as a partner in this legacy.”

Because of the endowment, the reading room will feature enhancements to lighting and furniture, wood ceilings and wood walls. The main entry portal will bear the McFadden/Willis Reading Room name and the internal entryway wall will celebrate the lives of the four children with their names and a special friendship quotation. Reading room donations of $1,000 or more will be recognized on a plaque. The foundation gift also will fund a roof garden on the library's third floor.

“This donation gives us the opportunity to augment state funds allocated for this project and to add substantially nicer finishes to the room. These will be the graceful touches that mark the world's classic libraries,” said University Librarian Bruce Miller. “We also are fortunate that the endowment will help fill our tremendous need for library materials, which will benefit students and scholars for generations to come.”

In making the pledge to UC Merced, McFadden shared her desire that her children's lives continue to touch others in positive ways, that the children's bright spirits live on in projects representing who they were and that they be remembered on the new campus.

“I envision the reading room as a contemplative space where one can both reflect and be transformed through words,” said McFadden, a graduate of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. “It is also a wonderful room to view the surrounding landscape and for some, the place where they will begin their connection with the San Joaquin Valley. I believe each of my children would have been drawn to this special room and that my choice will honor and serve them well.”

The Kolligian Library endowment is part of McFadden's wish to memorialize Melanie, Stanley, Stuart and Michelle through initiatives funded through the McFadden-Willis Memorial Foundation for the benefit the children and families of Merced County.

The foundation also has established Friendship Scholarships for students who are graduating from the Merced Union High School District and planning to attend a four-year college or university. To qualify, students must display strong qualities of friendship and compassion.

Raising funds for a pediatric wing and children's center at the new Mercy Medical Center in Merced is another foundation goal.

Upcoming fund-raising events to support these and other programs include a Celebrity Golf Tournament in Thousand Oaks on April 11 and a Jewelry Auction and Benefit at Merced's Italo-American Lodge on May 3.

One of the first three buildings to be constructed on the UC Merced campus, the Kolligian Library will be the University's “front door.” The library will be a vibrant place for learning and collaboration, combining physical and digital resources to create a cutting-edge library for the 21st century.

Previous endowments supporting the library have come from Fresno's Leo Kolligian, former Chairman of the UC Board of Regents and member of the UC Merced Foundation Board of Trustees, and his late wife, Dottie, for whom the library is named. Also providing generous facility support were Fresno developer Ed Kashian and his wife, Jeanne. Spearheading a fund-raising campaign for library materials, Dr. Krishna and Suma Thondapu of Merced helped garner generous funding for the World Cultures Institute special collection.

UC Merced's Kolligian Library will join the University of California's vast library resources. With collections totaling 30 million volumes, the UC library collections are surpassed in size on the American continent by only the Library of Congress collection.