The University of Hartford announced today that, thanks to the generosity of a group of anonymous donors in the form of a multimillion-dollar gift, University Libraries will now be named Harrison University Libraries in honor of University President Walter Harrison, who will retire in June after 19 years leading the University. The exceptional gift contributes to a library expansion and renovation project currently underway on campus that will house the University’s Mortensen and Allen libraries in one building and to future funding for the libraries.
Harrison said “I am honored, humbled, and deeply flattered by this transformational gift which provides the University with the resources to revitalize the Mortensen and Allen libraries in order to create an academic commons that will serve our students well into the 21st century and beyond. The Mortensen and Allen libraries have always symbolized the rigorous and rich intellectual experience of the University, and that has been reinforced through the broader reach of digital media today.”
The library’s current project involves a three-story, 8,300 square-foot addition to the north side of Mortensen Library and major renovations of the building’s ground floor, which will become the new home of the Allen Library. The project began in May 2016 and is scheduled for completion in May 2017.
The expansion features a three-story glass back wall that faces the Park River, which runs through the University campus. On the main level of Mortensen Library, the new addition will house a “learning commons” with technology-rich academic study spaces and a new resource desk. The upper level of the addition will feature balconies that look out over the learning commons.
The Allen Library is currently located on the top floor of the East Wing of the Harry Jack Gray Center. It houses music and dance materials and supports The Hartt School programs. After the expansion, Allen Library will move to a new 6,475-square-foot space on the lower level of the newly named Harrison library complex, where it will maintain a distinct identity.
The new Allen Library will include three larger listening rooms and two seminar rooms to accommodate more group study, listening/viewing sessions, and small seminars. It will have more seating and stacks and will increase the size and sophistication of the current 5,800-square-foot facility.
“Some of the naming gift will support the current renovation and some will provide resources for future needs of the libraries,” Harrison said, “thus ensuring that the life of the mind remains at the center, figuratively and literally, of the UHart experience. Nothing could make me prouder.”