The Herman B Wells Library is a home-away-from-home for students. In fact, with nearly 2 million visits annually, it is one of the most highly used academic spaces on the Bloomington campus of Indiana University. Recent renovations created its innovative, state-of-the-art Learning Commons: a light-filled, service-oriented space designed in response to dramatic changes in students’ learning styles that have taken place over the past decade.
With the high use the Learning Commons receives, as well as the important role it plays in interactive student learning; having funds to support the upkeep and continued productive value of these rooms is critical, according to Charlie Chamness, associate director of development for IU Libraries.
His relationship with two alumni created a pathway for their generosity to secure a promising future for one such Learning Commons space.
Mary Ann and Ron Bennett met and fell in love while attending Indiana University as undergraduate students during the early-to-mid 1960s. Mary Ann was a member of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority, while Ron was a member of Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity, and Skull and Crescent. During their time at IU, Mary Ann and Ron enjoyed study dates at the library, deepening their relationship as well as their academic knowledge.
Ron graduated with a B.S. in Accounting in 1964. Mary Ann graduated with a B.A. in Mathematics in 1963 and immediately followed that accomplishment with a M.S. in Education in 1964. Once their time at IU as students was complete, Mary Ann and Ron both went on to have successful careers, Mary Ann as a high school math teacher and Ron as a CFO in the manufacturing industry.
Ron and Mary Ann have long supported a number of areas within Indiana University, chief among them the IU Libraries. In recent months, however, the couple became inspired to support the dynamic Learning Commons, after learning about its current and future impact on student success.
“When I think about this gift, I have to credit our relationship with Charlie. His endless patience, kindness and clear passion for IU Libraries made giving both easy and rewarding,” said Mary Ann.
Ron and Mary Ann believe the library touches all students and plays an important role in academic success for many different areas of the University. They quickly saw the importance of having unique work spaces in the Libraries. Classroom 138, in particular, provides the collaborative environment, technology, and enhanced study capabilities critically needed by today’s students.
Sharing the Bennetts' belief that the library is central to the IU experience, Ruth Lilly Dean of IU Libraries, Carolyn Walters, said, "It strengthens all of us when a donor recognizes the impact of our work on student success. We are fortunate to count Ron and Mary Ann as friends of the library, and also appreciate Charlie’s evident and inspiring dedication to their relationship with IU and its libraries."
A recent celebration rededicated classroom 138 as the Ronald L. and Mary Ann Bennett Room. It is designed for technology-based workshops in areas of interest to both faculty and students. In the past, such educational opportunities have included software training, organizing research, assignment design, citation and data management, open access publishing, and student publishing.