The University of Pennsylvania Libraries is pleased to announce the launch of a major renovation project at the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center that will create a dedicated, state-of-the-art space for the Center for Global Collections on the building’s fifth floor, thanks to generous anchor gifts from the Libraries’ volunteer leadership. A $1.5M gift from Stacey Bennett, C’95, an incoming member of the Penn Libraries’ Board of Advisors, along with her brother, Board of Advisors Chair Erik D. Gershwind, W’93, will name the Gershwind-Bennett Family Forum. At the same time, a $1M gift from Board of Advisors members and cousins Eric G. Reiter, W’97, and Mark D. Rosenbaum, W’95 will name the Reiter-Rosenbaum Family Gallery.
“These key gifts provide a strong start toward establishing a home for the Center for Global Collections. I am deeply grateful to our Board of Advisors members for their leadership support, which makes this ambitious renovation project possible,” says Constantia Constantinou, H. Carton Rogers III Vice Provost and Director of the Penn Libraries. “The revitalized Center will bring exciting opportunities for the Penn Libraries—and Penn—to explore many geographies, preserve cultural heritage, and uplift a broad range of voices.”
The $15M renovation project will transform the fifth floor of the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center into a contemporary, innovative space for students and scholars to engage with the diversity of cultures and societies around the world. The Gershwind-Bennett Family Forum and the Reiter-Rosenbaum Family Gallery, in particular, will position the Center as a hub for engagement through dynamic programming, such as exhibitions, lectures, and seminars, that will leverage the Penn Libraries’ global studies holdings and expertise.
Brian Vivier, a former Fulbright Scholar with a PhD in Chinese history whose research focuses on the economic and social history of Middle Period China and on China’s frontiers from the 10th to the 13th centuries, was named the Center’s inaugural director in June 2022, having previously held the role of Chinese studies librarian. Vivier has been steadily building his team for the past year, most recently hiring the Penn Libraries’ first Africana Studies Librarian and first Russian and East European Studies Librarian. They join Penn Libraries colleagues with expertise in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Latin American, Middle Eastern, and South Asian studies.
“The Center for Global Collections is an effort to bring the world to Penn and fuel the work of the next generation of truly global intellectuals and researchers,” Vivier says. “With robust and active programming, the Gershwind-Bennett Family Forum and Reiter-Rosenbaum Family Gallery, working in tandem, will make possible dramatic connections of Penn Libraries’ collections, expertise, and services with students, faculty, and researchers across campus—and well beyond."
The two anchor gifts, alongside several other gifts naming seminar rooms and offices, exemplify the difference Penn families make in supporting the Libraries and the University.
“I am thrilled to support this transformative capital project,” says Bennett. “It is an honor for Erik and me and our families to support the ambitious vision for the Center and help to cultivate global citizens at Penn.”
Rosenbaum adds, “On behalf of both Eric’s and my families, we look forward to seeing the impact of the Center for Global Collections on many different areas of study, both on campus and around the world. We know that the Libraries’ collections and staff expertise already play crucial roles in advancing Penn’s teaching and research. We are delighted to support the Center, which is sure to take this work to the next level.”
These gifts set the stage for a capital campaign to raise $15M for the full renovation project, with a goal to fulfill the campaign by 2024.
Featured image at top of page: Rendering of the Gershwind-Bennett Family Forum.
About Penn Libraries
The Penn Libraries provides a network of information resources and knowledge services that are vital to teaching, research, and learning at the University of Pennsylvania. This network includes 19 physical libraries, recognized for their collections, and a digital library known for innovation and richness of content. Penn's talented library staff are leading experts in their fields who raise the bar for learning and information curation. Through dynamic programming and exhibitions, and through the acquisition and preservation of literary and artistic artifacts, the Penn Libraries documents a wealth of social and historical periods, bringing scholarship to life at the University and in the various communities it serves.