Half-million-dollar pledge sets record, aims to boost urban library professionals

Half-million-dollar pledge sets record, aims to boost urban library professionals
Qumisha Goss, who received the Holley Scholarship in 2015, with Professor Holley.

Wayne State University professor emeritus Robert P. Holley has pledged a record-setting $500,000 gift to the School of Library and Information Science (SLIS). Expanding a commitment he began 17 years ago, Holley becomes the most generous single-gift donor in the school’s 50-year history.

The gift has dual purposes: to expand the Robert P. Holley Endowed Scholarship Fund and to establish the Robert P. Holley Endowed Support Fund. The Holley Endowed Scholarship supports SLIS students who plan to work in urban areas and serve underrepresented communities, while the Holley Support Fund will provide ongoing funding to support the SLIS mission.

“I felt it was time to start paying back the next generation for all the support I’ve received,” said Holley. “Scholarships and fellowships helped me throughout my education. Increasing the funding for this scholarship is an excellent way to give back and support someone else in achieving their educational goals.”

As the first member of his family to receive a graduate education, Holley believes he could not have gotten as far as he has in his career without the support of private scholarships. He added, “I hope that I am inspiring alums and friends to reach back and help students who are shaping the future of our impactful profession.”

After receiving an undergraduate degree from Xavier University, a master’s degree from Columbia University and a doctoral degree from Yale University, Holley came to Wayne State, where he served in several roles including Associate Dean of University Libraries, Director of the Library and Information Science Program, Interim Dean of University Libraries, and professor of library and information science. In addition to his administrative work, Holley is an accomplished scholar with over 150 publications, including six edited books.

Since establishing the Holley Endowed Scholarship in 2000, Holley has regularly added to the scholarship fund with additional gifts. His new planned gift commitment will significantly expand the scholarship fund and benefit more students.

“We are extremely grateful to Professor Holley for this tremendous gift,” said SLIS Dean Sandra Yee. “The endowed funds will directly contribute to student success, continuing the dedication to students that Professor Holley demonstrated as a faculty member.”

The School of Library and Information Science is known for leveraging its position in the heart of Detroit through collaboration with local cultural institutions and engagement with underrepresented communities. Accredited by the American Library Association since 1967, the school currently has students from 40 states and provinces enrolled in on-campus and online programs.

Alumni and friends of SLIS may contribute to the school by contacting Marguerite Carlton, Senior Major Gifts Officer, at 313-577-2822 or margueritec@wayne.edu.

(March 9, 2017)

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