Respected academic and library thought leader Robert P. Holley recently made a seven-figure estate commitment to the School of Information Sciences (SIS). He is the largest donor in the school's history. His gift will establish an endowed professorship in library science, create a new support fund for the school and add to his scholarship fund.
Holley served in the Wayne State Libraries for 17 years, beginning in 1988, when he was appointed associate dean of University Libraries, and continuing through 2015, by which time he had also served as chief collection development officer, professor, director of the library science program and interim dean.
“This generous gift will shape the School of Information Sciences for years to come,” said interim dean Tom Walker. “Bob’s generosity will strengthen our ability to attract the best and brightest faculty members and students at a time when the field of information science is evolving radically. We are grateful for his foresight and his philanthropy.”
By structuring his gift into endowed funds, Holley has created a legacy that will benefit SIS in perpetuity. The monies will be invested, and the earnings will fund the Dr. Robert P. Holley Endowed Professorship in Library Science and the new SIS support fund as well as increase funding for the existing Dr. Robert P. Holley Endowed Scholarship. Holley hopes the endowed professorship will support a faculty member in librarianship, preferably one with a focus on collection development, publishing and scholarly communication.
During his career, Holley found meeting the challenges of librarianship rewarding and became a national thought leader in the areas of library management, intellectual freedom and collection development. Following his retirement, Holley has continued to participate actively in the field, speaking at national conferences and contributing to professional library journals.
Holley earned a Ph.D. in French literature at Yale University, as well as a master of library science at Columbia University. In both endeavors and as an undergraduate, Holley was the beneficiary of scholarship funds. He would have been unable to pursue his studies without that support, and he feels strongly that financial circumstance should not limit the ambitions of hard-working, intelligent students. In 2000, he established the Dr. Robert P. Holley Endowed Scholarship to support library science students who live in urban areas and plan to work with underrepresented populations.
Current recipient Megan Taylor appreciates the financial support provided by the Holley Endowed Scholarship. “This scholarship will make it possible for me to further my education in a more affordable way,” she said. Holley’s latest gift commitment will provide additional support for the endowed scholarship.
Holley has also designated a portion of his gift to provide support funds for the school. “Having served on the faculty myself, I know that often serendipitous opportunities appear and having a bit of reserve funding can make all the difference. I wanted to ensure the school would have this specific type of support,” he said.
Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson expressed appreciation for Holley’s support of the school. “Dr. Holley has built a legacy at Wayne State through managerial excellence in the library system and through his impact on students and faculty as a professor. We are fortunate to be the recipients of this gift,” said Wilson.