Library Complex to Honor Hope Shull

AUGUST 21, 2013

A 29,000 square foot addition to the Freed-Hardeman University library will be built in memory of FHU’s much loved librarian, Hope Barber Shull, according to an announcement made Aug. 20 by FHU President Joe Wiley at the university’s faculty-staff conference.


“I am every day aware of how many people loved Hope and want to honor her,” her husband Don Shull, FHU professor of English, said. “I am amazed at the wonderful way the Browns have chosen.”

John W. and Rosemary Kopel Brown, Kalamazoo, Mich., have donated $7.5 million toward the cost of the $11 million project. The Browns met at Freed-Hardeman when they were students in 1953-55. They continued their studies at Auburn University where he received a degree in chemical engineering and she majored in chemistry. He became the president and chief executive officer of Stryker in 1977 and retired in 2010.

The library project includes the renovation of the existing Loden-Daniel Library, demolition of Lawhorn Library and the construction of a new three-story building connected to Loden-Daniel, which will be called the Hope Barber Shull Library. It will more than double the size of the existing library. The entire complex (grounds in front of the current library, Loden-Daniel Library and the new Hope Barber Shull Library) will be called the Hope Barber Shull Academic Resource Center, according to Wiley.

“We all loved Hope,” Wiley said. “She was very much aware of how an expanded library would serve this institution. Not long before her death, she worked with C.J. Vires (vice president for academics) on what a new library would look like. As Hope dreamed, this building will be much more that a book repository. It will also be a place for experiential learning and social activity,” Wiley said.

The addition will feature a learning commons, a teaching and learning center, private study areas, an art gallery, training rooms, a multi-purpose room capable of seating 50 individuals and a café. Vires said, “This library will provide activities and services that occur at the intersection of the academic experience and student life. It becomes the university contemporary version of the student union."


Hope Shull joined the FHU staff in 1985 and became a librarian in 1993. She died in March, 2013, following an extended battle with ovarian cancer. The program at the celebration of her life read, “She loved the library, her co-librarians and staff were extended family, and she counted it a blessing to work with FHU students.” That love for the library and students showed in her dedication to her job and in her eagerness to serve the needs of students.

The Browns are long-time friends of Shull and her parents, Allen and Marie Barber. The families worship together at the East Main Church of Christ in Kalamazoo, Mich. Allen Barber was the minister of the congregation in the 1970’s when the Browns became members and later worked at Stryker while continuing to preach.

The Browns were also the naming benefactors for the Brown-Kopel Business Center built in 2003 and named in honor of their parents. The couple also funds the E. Claude and Delorese Gardner Chair of Excellence in Bible and the Brown Chair of Excellence in Mathematics.

Earl Swinson and Associates has been selected as the architectural firm. A conceptual drawing has been completed and an Aug. 27 meeting will finalize details of the project. Shull had worked with the architect in the initial stages of the project. The groundbreaking will likely be in the spring or summer of next year.