Sheridans Pledge $20 Million to Hopkins LibraryJohns Hopkins University graduate R. Champlin Sheridan and his wife, Debbie, have made a $20 million commitment to The Johns Hopkins Initiative to nearly double the endowment of the university's Milton S. Eisenhower Library and support planned library renovations.
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 Johns Hopkins 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."
Mr. 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.
Mr. and Mrs. Sheridan 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 audio-visual 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 Humanities.
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 endowment.
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."
Mr. 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.
Mr. 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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