$2.3M estate gift supports next generation of librarians, archivists

$2.3M estate gift supports next generation of librarians, archivists

April 19, 2018
katheryne willock headshot

TUCSON, Ariz. — University of Arizona Libraries has received a $2.3 million gift from the estate of a longtime library advocate and supporter, Katheryne "Kate" Willock. Willock, who passed away in January 2017, was an archaeologist who focused her work on the Virgin Islands and the Southwestern U.S.

The gift will equally fund two endowments: One supports graduate assistantships for students in the UA Library and Information Science program, and the second creates the Katheryne B. Willock Dean of University of Arizona Libraries Chair, which will support the position of the dean in perpetuity.

Over the past 20 years, Willock established awards to recognize undergraduate and graduate student research, provided the funding for the Katheryne B. Willock Director of Special Collections Endowment and founded the Willock Graduate Assistantship Program to invest in the next generation of librarians, archivists and information professionals.

Willock's investment in the libraries already has had a significant impact on numerous library students.

Yvonne Mery, an associate librarian who has worked at the University Libraries since 2008, was awarded a Willock graduate assistantship when she attended the UA School of Information Resources and Library Science in 2007. She said the financial support she received is the reason she was able to land a job and start her career as a librarian.  

"I was able to really concentrate on my education because of my graduate assistantship," said Mery, whose work focuses on developing tutorials to improve students' research skills and teaching graduate courses in the iSchool. "The program gave me a wealth of practical experience and information that took me from shadowing instruction and reference librarians as they taught courses to teaching the courses myself."

Willock also recognized students who made extensive use of library services and resources through the Katheryn B. Willock Library Research Award. Since 2011, undergraduate and graduate students have been invited to write and submit essays about how the library supports their research and coursework. The annual essay competition is part of the Student Showcase, an event created by the Graduate and Professional Student Council to celebrate student research. Willock Award winners receive $1,000.

"Our libraries remain an excellent educational resource by continually evolving to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world," said UA President Robert C. Robbins. "Katheryne Willock had the foresight to recognize our libraries' potential, and the generosity to ensure that it was realized. This gift from her estate will provide University Libraries with the capacity to reshape the concept of the campus library to meet whatever needs the future brings. Her impact will be felt by students for generations."

"Kate Willock's generosity in making this planned gift is inspiring. She established a meaningful legacy based on her passion for UA Libraries, and countless students will benefit in the years to come," said John-Paul Roczniak, president and CEO of the University of Arizona Foundation.

"Dr. Willock's legacy as a passionate advocate for libraries and student success will live on for generations to come," said Shan Sutton, dean of University Libraries. "Her generous gift ensures that students will have real-world experiences in the UA libraries that prepare them to be the leaders of tomorrow in their fields."