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Date: May 06, 2008

Newly Expanded UVic Library Named for BC Builder William C. Mearns

A leading figure in the commercial and industrial development of 20th-century British Columbia is being honoured for his role in the establishment of the University of Victoria.

William C. Mearns (1909-1998) was a founder of the university and instrumental in the assembly and purchase of the Gordon Head lands upon which the university was built.

Now, UVic is honouring Mearns with the newly named William C. Mearns Centre for Learning, a $20-million expansion of the existing McPherson Library. Fundraising for the new complex was completed in 2005 with a $5-million gift from the Mearns family. The provincial government matched the Mearns gift, and the university and other private donors provided the remaining funds.

“The Mearns gift is especially noteworthy in the history of this university and of Victoria,” says UVic President David Turpin. “This was a powerful statement by a Victoria family. It is a demonstration of their commitment to the quality and excellence of the University of Victoria’s learning environment.”

The new William C. Mearns Centre expands the ability of the UVic Libraries to meet the challenges of technological change. The centre houses the Bessie Brooks Winspear Media Commons, integrating all formats of the library’s music, audio and video collection, a new special collections and archives space, and an expanded Information Commons that forms a single digital access point for all library resources. The expansion also provides additional shelving, computer workstations, classrooms and collaborative study areas.

“The province was proud to match this generous gift to complete a project that reflects the needs of all University of Victoria students,” says Advanced Education Minister Murray Coell. “We all know that an investment in education is the best possible investment we can make.”

“This is a library for the 21st century,” says Marnie Swanson, the university librarian. “This is a modern learning centre that will help every student and faculty member, and connect them to global resources in an instant.”

Mearns was a Victoria native who graduated from UVic’s predecessor, Victoria College, in 1927. He earned engineering degrees at Stanford University and the University of Washington and completed studies in advanced management at Harvard University. He spent his entire career with BC Electric, which later became BC Hydro, rising through the ranks from meter man to executive director. He received an honorary doctor of laws degree from UVic in 1991 in recognition of a lifetime of service and achievement.
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Media contacts:

Chris Thackray (Development Communications) (250)721-0831 or thackray@uvic.ca
Marnie Swanson (University Head Librarian) (250)721-8211 or mswanson@uvic.ca


UVic media releases and other resources for journalists are available on the World Wide Web at http://communications.uvic.ca/media

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