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Realizing Hope's Dream

Honoring the woman and FHU librarian our campus loved.

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 by FHU President Joe Wiley.

John W. and Rosemary Kopel Brown, Kalamazoo, Mich., have donated $7.5 million toward the cost of the $11 million project. They 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.

"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."

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.

"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."

Students are eager for work to begin on the project. "I'm really excited about the new library because it will provide us with so much more space for studying and working in groups. I can't wait to see all of the new sections that will be available to us," Kalyn Bush, a freshman elementary education major from Evansville, Ind., said.

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 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 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.

Renovation of the lawn area in front of Loden-Daniel will include a courtyard garden with a 24-foot plaza that can be used as an outdoor internet café space. Further into the lawn area, a sunken garden will have two water features on either side of the main entrance and two 30-foot long water walls which will spill over from the pools above. The upper pools will be suitable for baptisms. The water features will create outdoor gathering spaces.

Earl Swensson and Associates has been selected as the architectural firm. Shull had worked with the architect in the initial stages of the project. The groundbreaking will likely be this summer.

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