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Alumni celebrate refurbished Linderman

Those attending the dedication ceremony enjoy Linderman's new look.

Nearly two months after it re-opened for students, the renovated Linderman Library’s formal dedication took place Thursday to coincide with the board of trustees meeting and the start of the Alumni Reunion Weekend.

In the stories told by alumni about this building where they studied decades ago and in the comments of the speakers who took part in the ceremony in the 1929 Reading Room, one theme quickly emerged: Linderman is more than just a building to those in the Lehigh family.

“For (Lehigh) faculty, this will be a welcoming work space where attentive ears hear the call to move along, to think the next thought, to allow the imagination to fire through the energetic exchange of ideas and sharing of points of view, whether in the closed rooms of the classes or in the silence of the reading room,” said Lloyd Steffen, professor and chair of the religion studies department. “And this facility, now open and working again, will continue to reflect who we are and what we value even as it expresses a dream, which—I hope as a faculty member I can say on behalf of my colleagues—is a dream for understanding, peaceful encounter with others, respectful disagreement, and above all a hope for wisdom.”

President Alice P. Gast called the dedication an opportunity to celebrate the rebirth of this historic Lehigh building before quoting Cicero by saying: "To add a library to a house is to give that house a soul.”

Gast then added: "The Lehigh campus, which so many call 'home' is, again blessed to have such a beautiful library, which will, no doubt, be the soul of the campus for generations to come."

One life that has been touched by Linderman is that of John Misinco ’05. Only in his mid-20s, Misinco has been spent three-quarters of his life making pilgrimages to Linderman Library.

Misinco’s mother, Margaret, has worked at Linderman for almost 40 years and she thought it was important to expose her son to the library at the age of six—at which point, John thought of one of Lehigh’s iconic structures as a “magical castle.”

He soon learned it was a castle worth exploring.

“My visits to Linderman fueled my desire to learn at a young age,” said Misinco, who earned a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science from Lehigh in 2005 and a master's degree in political science in 2006. “I have had so many memorable times here, so to be asked to come back and speak on the day that Linderman is being dedicated is quite an honor.

“Linderman means so much to me, so to see this treasure of Lehigh get completely refurbished is terrific. Now Linderman is ready to inspire future generations—much as it inspired me when I was a little boy.”

A complete transformation

Lehigh President Alice P. Gast speaks at the dedication ceremony, as Brad Scheler ’74 looks on.

Those who, like Misinco—now an editor with the Pocono Record—came back to visit an old friend in Linderman couldn’t help but notice several significant changes made during the library’s just-completed architectural transformation, an effort that was led by Tony Corallo, Associate Vice President of Facilities and Campus Planning, and MGA Architects of Philadelphia.

One obvious change is that Linderman, which had gone more than 70 years with no structural modifications to the building, is much easier to navigate as visitors are now able to walk north, south, east and west on each floor for the first time in the library’s history. Additional upgrades include new classroom and seminar rooms, a café commons, new computer technology, wired and wireless networking spaces, and climate control systems.

“All of the people that worked on this project should be extremely proud. They did a marvelous job of blending technology and functionality while maintaining the elegance of Linderman,” said David Wu, dean of the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science. “To me, the renovation itself is symbolic of Lehigh, a place that is always forward thinking without forgetting its history, in the sense that the history of the building was respected while giving it a new purpose, a new functionality, a new look.”

The May 17 event was a way to thank the donors who made Linderman’s transformation possible. After thanking Kenneth Woodcock ’65 (who has seen the new-look Linderman, but was unable to attend the formal dedication) for his donation to name the stunning Kenneth Woodcock Rotunda, Gast welcomed eight special donors to the podium and presented them with a framed commemorative poster and one of the original Linderman doorknobs. The donors who were called to the stage were.

• Lynn and George Bovenizer ’63, ’90 Parent, ’93 P, who named the spot where the ceremony took place, the Lynn and George Bovenizer Fireplace Lounge.

• Greg Butz ’79,’81G, president, and Lee Butz ’55, chief executive officer, were honored for the Butz Family Rotunda Bay, which was made possible by the Butzes’ generosity and the Alvin H. Butz Company.

• Linny Fowler ’03H and Beall Fowler ’59 ’84P, ’89P, ’01P were recognized for their generous gift to the central portion of the reading room, named the Fowler Family Reference Room.

• Dale Strohl ’58, whose generosity resulted in the naming of the Strohl Family Information Center, the site of the service desk; the Dale Strohl E-Stations, located on either side of the information center; and the Dale Strohl Stairway Lounge on the first floor.

• Brad Scheler ’74, an alumnus, a trustee, parent (his daughter Maddie is in the Class of 2008) and member of the Linderman advisory committee. Over the past two years, Scheler was one of the renovation’s most vocal advocates and tireless volunteers.

After being recognized, Scheler thanked his colleagues on the advisory committee, and the Lehigh staff, including Jean Farrington, Susan Vengrove, former Lehigh President Greg Farrington, and Gast before talking about the project.

“To meet the challenges of the 21st century, the evolution of Linderman Library was essential and mandatory,” said Scheler. “With that goal, all at Lehigh have been tireless in their efforts to preserve and protect the Linderman we cherish while ensuring that Linderman will be as useful and relevant to Lehigh students of the next 100 years as Linderman has been for more than a century.”

Bill Doherty

Posted on Friday, May 18, 2007

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