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Husband Honors Wife with Gift to Libraries

Pat Spieles and Carol McMurry

Carol McMurry on a boatUW alum Pat Spieles is honoring the memory of his wife Carol McMurry, also an alum, with a gift of $2.5 million to the UW Libraries. The gift will establish the Carol J. McMurry Distinguished Librarian for Academic Excellence, a fitting tribute to this extraordinary librarian. Pat and Carol planned the gift together, but Carol tragically passed away as the gift was being completed.

“Most people really don’t think about it in those terms, but whether you are an athlete or an art major, the library is a hub of learning, research, and student life,” Carol had said. “Choosing to donate to the library was easy—it benefits every UW college and every UW student.”

The endowment will create two programs—a campus reading program and a librarian position to work closely with the Honors College. UW Reads aims to broaden the shared understanding of the world through the joys of a good book, and the Carol J. McMurry Distinguished Librarian for Academic Excellence, position will serve as a liaison between the Honors College and the University Libraries, as well as overseeing the UW Reads program.

Carol worked at Coe Library as a student and continued on after she graduated. She also worked for ten years as a librarian at the University of Wyoming Family Medicine Residency Program at Cheyenne. For his career, Pat worked in pharmaceutical research and mining. Pat graduated from UW with a bachelor’s and master’s in microbiology, and Carol graduated with a bachelor’s in English. Both Pat and Carol have served on the UW Libraries Development Board, and Pat was a longtime board member of the University of Wyoming Foundation.

Philanthropy plays a big part in Pat’s and Carol’s lives. The couple have supported the university extensively, including the UW Libraries, the Art Museum, Engineering, Business, the UW Golf programs, Agriculture, the American Heritage Center, and the UW Foundation. Their gift in support of the Alma Doke McMurry Reading Room honors Carol’s grandmother. They say that giving back to the community is a family value instilled by both sets of their parents, Earl and Irene Spieles and Neil and Ellie McMurry. They donate to other Wyoming and Colorado charities as well.

“My passion for libraries was instilled in me by my grandmother, Alma Doke McMurry, who took me every Saturday to the old Carnegie Library in Casper,” McMurry said in 2011. “It was a replica of Monticello and became a quiet refuge for me from the flurry of activity of my large extended family.”

The UW Libraries is indeed near and dear to both Carol and Pat. In the past, they have repeatedly supported library excellence. The gift will be closely aligned with the McMurry Spieles Library Excellence Endowment—which supports the University Libraries scholarship and professional development of librarians and library staff—the McMurry-Spieles Outstanding Staff Award, the McMurry-Spieles Research Collection, the Alma Doke McMurry Reading Room, the Popular Reading Collection, and the McMurry-Spieles Author Series.

UW Reads aims to broaden the shared understanding of the world through the joys of a good book. Inspiring conversation and discovery, the program is modeled on the Big Read, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts that supports dynamic reading communities across the nation. Larger conversations about shared ideas can transform our communities.

The UW Reads program furthers the University of Wyoming strategic plan and the UW Libraries strategic plan by promoting and strengthening the university as a scholarly and creative enterprise. It more closely connects UW Libraries with the Honors College and connects students with prominent authors and thought leaders.

The Carol J. McMurry Distinguished Librarian for Academic Excellence, will support the mission and programming of UW’s Honors College, as well as scholarship and student excellence in general. This person will serve as a liaison between the Honors College and the University Libraries. Honors scholars are intellectually curious students from all majors who are creative, inspired by diverse ideas, and seek a greater understanding of their place in society. The demand of excellence placed on these students and faculty makes the creation of the position that much more important.

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