Hamer $1 million gift supports Libraries’ proposed Collaboration Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Marie Bednar and her husband, the late Donald Hamer, have committed $1 million in support of the Penn State University Libraries’ proposed Collaboration Commons, part of a renovation and expansion of West Pattee Library termed the Central Atrium that would provide additional space for students’ study and team-based projects.

The vision for the Central Atrium Project would fill in and expand downward the open courtyard that separates the below-ground level through third floors of West Pattee Library, and also include the creation of a Research Commons and a Collaboration Commons, both critically needed service areas.

“For decades, Donald Hamer and Marie Bednar have been generous champions of the University Libraries and its student-centered learning opportunities. So, it is fitting, as Don’s last gesture of support prior to his passing last fall, that he and Marie designate their leadership gift for the Libraries’ proposed Collaboration Commons project,” Barbara I. Dewey, dean of University Libraries and Scholarly Communications, said.

“Once fully funded through philanthropic support and approved by the University’s Board of Trustees, the Central Atrium’s spaces will not only improve accessibility across all four west and central floors of Pattee Library,” Dewey added. “ It also will add much-needed research service access points and collaborative work space for students and faculty, who already fill Pattee Library and Paterno Library individually and when meeting in groups, using our many spaces for focused academic and research productivity.”

The proposed Central Atrium represents the heart of the Pattee Library and Paterno Library, envisioned as a dramatic, central space designed to complete the Tombros-McWhirter Knowledge Commons and provide greater access to the ground-floor-level, world-class Donald W. Hamer Maps Library, currently accessible only from Central Pattee Library’s first-floor central staircases and elevator. It also would position Pattee Library and Paterno Library as a single, unified learning center while opening the opportunity to create a groundbreaking scholarly environment worthy of its status as a Top Ten American research library at a premier research university.

This final, unifying phase of Pattee Library’s architectural transformation will be designed to provide sweeping new student space for enhanced services and advanced research and collections expertise. It also will create cohesion by filling in four floors of the building’s wing that are currently separated by an outdoor courtyard, providing additional space for added research services, as well as greater areas for researchers to collaborate, seek expertise and resources, and engage the world community of scholars.

The Collaboration Commons would provide students with flexible, multi-purpose venues featuring state-of-the-art technology available for classes, presentations and events.

Both large, open and enclosed collaborative environments will be available for student study and project space. The project also offers the opportunity to expand MacKinnon’s Cafe, a much-needed and often-requested upgrade for the University Park community.

Hamer and Bednar’s connections to the University Libraries and Penn State are longstanding. Bednar served as a faculty librarian and cataloger for 25 years at Pattee Library, as well as a department head. She is a 1983 alumna of Penn State with a master's degree in comparative literature. Hamer, a 1968 Penn State alumnus, was chairman and founder of State of the Art Inc., a leading supplier of film resistive components to the biomedical, communications, aerospace and defense industries located in State College, Pennsylvania. In 2000 he was named a Penn State Distinguished Alumnus.

The Bednar Internship Program at the University Libraries was created from an endowment the couple established in 2000. It enables undergraduate juniors and seniors to participate in active and collaborative learning experiences and gain career experience in their fields of study while earning academic credit, while also supporting and enhancing the capabilities of the University Libraries. In addition to their philanthropic support of the University Libraries, Hamer and Bednar’s generosity has supported many other Penn State programs and academic positions.

The University Libraries continues to affirm its position among the top 10 research libraries in North America, alongside peers like Harvard, Yale and Princeton Universities, the University of Michigan, and the University of California, Berkeley. Its strength has helped Penn State to become positioned among Times Higher Education’s top 10 percent of universities worldwide and the leading destination for corporate recruiters seeking students who are prepared to contribute to our global, knowledge-driven economy.

For more information about supporting the Collaboration Commons Project, email Nicki Hendrix, director of Development and Alumni Relations, at nmh18@psu.edu or call 814-865-2258.

Penn State’s alumni and friends are invaluable partners in fulfilling the University’s land-grant mission of education, research and service. Private gifts from alumni and friends enrich the experiences of students both in and out of the classroom, expand the research and teaching capacity of our faculty, enhance the University’s ability to recruit and retain top students and faculty, and help to ensure that students from every economic background have access to a Penn State education. The University’s colleges and campuses are now enlisting the support of alumni and friends to advance a range of unit-specific initiatives.

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Last Updated February 16, 2017