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MSU Library receives its largest donation in history

June 11, 2020
<p>MSU alumnus Stephen Murray, left, and research scientist Keelung Hong, right, pose for a photo in 1983. Hong donated MSU Library&#x27;s largest cash donation in history in honor of Murray, who was his longtime partner.</p>

MSU alumnus Stephen Murray, left, and research scientist Keelung Hong, right, pose for a photo in 1983. Hong donated MSU Library's largest cash donation in history in honor of Murray, who was his longtime partner.

MSU Libraries received its biggest donation in history: $5 million given by research scientist Keelung Hong.

He made the donation in honor of his longtime partner Stephen O. Murray, a sociologist, anthropologist and independent scholar who graduated from MSU’s James Madison College.

Hong’s total gift to MSU is $6.1 million, with $5 million going toward MSU Libraries to renovate space on Three East and move Special Collections to that floor.

"I'm really kind of humbled from the perspective of any large gift like that is a vote of confidence in the libraries and in our not only our mission but ... the way that we meet that mission and our stewardship of resources," Dean of MSU Libraries Joseph Salem said. "So, it's humbling. This is a really a wonderful, wonderful story and a wonderful gift."

This is the largest cash donation the library has ever received. Before Hong's donation, the prior Dean of MSU Libraries Cliff Heika received a donated collection that was valued for over $10 million.

James Madison College will receive $1 million to fund the Stephen O. Murray Scholar in Residence program. This will support a different visiting scholar every year who will conduct research and teach, and they will also have access to the library's Stephen O. Murray Archival Collection and other MSU Libraries resources.

“My donation is intended to ensure that Stephen O. Murray’s research, whether complete and published or incomplete and remaining unpublished at his death, remains accessible to other scholars, and to support additional research into the topics that interested him,” Hong said in a press release. “I also want MSU students, staff, and faculty to know and remember his passion and appreciation of his college days.”

In addition to the changes on Three East and moving special collections, the library renovation project includes the addition of a new HVAC system and fire suppression system. It will also give more storage capacity for Special Collections, provide the staff with a processing space, offer more security and give the staff the opportunity to work together in one location.

"All money will actually go toward the creation of climate controls, especially relocating for Special Collections, the staff and the collections themselves into a climate controlled space and to create a more comprehensive space where all the staff can do their work for Special Collections in the main library," Salem said.

The donation itself is going toward naming and moving Special Collections. This is a project the library has worked on for many years with the help of the Director of Development Seth Martin and the head of Special Collections Leslie McRoberts. However, the donation itself does not cover all the costs of the project — the rest of the funds are being privately funded and fundraised.

“This gift is a tremendous act of generosity and philanthropy,” Salem said in the press release. “The etymological root of philanthropy begins with love, and this is Keelung Hong’s demonstration of love for Stephen Murray, for MSU Libraries, and for research, teaching, and learning. His gift will help us support and protect our collections, and it will help us support research related to issues of diversity and inclusion. We appreciate all that his donation represents.”

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