Johns Hopkins Gazette: October 3, 1994


Donors' gift of $20 million boosts library
By Dennis O'Shea

Johns Hopkins graduate R. Champlin Sheridan and his wife,
Debbie, have made a $20 million commitment to The Johns
Hop-kins Initiative to nearly double the endowment of the
Milton S. Eisenhower Library and support planned library
    The commitment, the largest in the Eisenhower Library's
history, includes a $15 million outright gift and a $5
million challenge. The Sheridans have agreed to match,
dollar-for-dollar, up to $5 million from other supporters of
the library between now and the end of The Johns Hopkins
Initiative in 2000.
    "In our nation's history, each generation has produced
only a handful of people who, with wonderful generosity, have
led the way in the creation of world-renowned libraries,"
said William C. Richardson, president of the university.
"Debbie and Champ Sheridan are the library visionaries of our
generation. Johns Hopkins is fortunate beyond words to
benefit from their devotion to the printed word and to the
legacy of learning, and from their enthusiasm for innovation
in scholarly communication.
    "No university can be greater than its library," Dr.
Richardson said. "The Sheridans' gift will ensure the
vitality of the Eisenhower Library. The challenge they have
created will inspire others to secure the future of research
and scholarship at this university."
    Sheridan, a 1952 graduate of Johns Hopkins, is vice
chairman of the university board of trustees and of The Johns
Hopkins Initiative. He is also chairman of the Eisenhower
Library's Advisory Council.
    The Sheridans are longtime supporters of the Eisenhower
Library, the largest research library in Maryland with a
collection of more than 2 million volumes, nearly 14,000
periodical subscriptions and extensive holdings of
audiovisual materials, maps and manuscripts.
    In 1990, the Sheridans gave $2.5 million, in part to
endow the library's directorship. Several years earlier,
their $300,000 gift launched a special campaign to raise $4
million, a sum that qualified the library for a $1 million
matching grant from the National Endowment for the
    The Sheridans' latest gift--and their $5 million
challenge, if met by other donors--will bring the Eisenhower
Library within striking range of its goal of raising $27
million during The Johns Hopkins Initiative. The library's
priorities during the campaign are to raise funds toward a
critical $8 million renovation, to substantially increase its
$10.2 million endowment and to press ahead with efforts to
transform itself from a traditional library to the
information resource center it will become in the future.
    The exact allocation of the Sheridan gift among those
priorities has not been determined, though the bulk of the
commitment is expected to go to increase the library's
    Stephen G. Nichols, the interim Sheridan Director of the
Eisenhower Library, called the Sheridans' campaign commitment
"truly a visionary gift that will inspire others to give." 
    "Champ and Debbie Sheridan's generosity," Dr. Nichols
said, "strengthens our endowment and allows us to move the
library from a print culture into the library world of the
21st century, where the building and its books will be linked
to the dorm room, the classroom, the faculty office and the
studies of alumni worldwide."
    Sheridan, chairman and majority owner of The Sheridan
Group of Hanover, Pa., said the couple's gift will be made in
the form of shares of the company's stock. 
    Sheridan said he has been devoted to the university not
only because of his own education at Hopkins, for which he is
most grateful, but also because of the advice and counsel of
other Hopkins alumni as members of his board of directors.
    The library, he said, is a natural focus for his and his
wife's philanthropy because of his own success in the
printing and publishing business.
    "The library influences so much else in the university,"
he said. "It is the cornerstone, the foundation of the
university--the university as a forum for exchanging ideas
and developing knowledge, not as a building or edifice.
    "We felt we could have a more long-lasting and broader
reach by focusing on the library rather than on other
portions of the university," he said.

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