Dartmouth Honors Richard Reiss ’66 for Historic Library Gift

The great hall has been named in recognition of gift to reimagine Dartmouth’s libraries.

Dartmouth has dedicated the main interior hall of the Dartmouth Library’s Baker-Berry Library in honor of Richard Reiss Jr. ’66, who made a $10 million gift to pursue innovative means to explore, analyze, and create knowledge. His gift launches a $30 million strategic effort to reimagine the role of Dartmouth’s libraries for the 21st century in service to teaching and research.

“To Rick and all of the members of the Reiss family with us this afternoon, we cannot thank you enough for investing in this most special place,” President Philip J. Hanlon ’77 said at a ceremony on May 31. “We are so grateful for your leadership and know it will inspire others to follow your fine example in keeping the library at the forefront of teaching and learning, always.”

At a time when information is all around us and accessible almost anywhere, the value that academic libraries bring to their communities continues to evolve far beyond simply providing access to collections, said Dean of Libraries Susanne Mehrer. Increasingly, libraries are active partners in the research process; collaborators in grant-funded projects; specialists in data analysis, data visualization, data management; and experts in traditional and digital preservation, digital forensics, and scholarly publishing.

“Our vision is to create inspiring environments rich in resources that tap into centuries of knowledge as well as just-published critical content, paving the way to new discoveries and new knowledge,” Mehrer said. “This gift will enable the Dartmouth libraries to re-envision how we partner with our community to push the boundaries of scholarly inquiry and transformative learning.”

As part of The Call to Lead campaign, the gift will help ensure that established programs are keeping pace with new pedagogical approaches and that programs are created to meet new needs—whether those involve computational analyses of 17th century literature, augmented reality representation of ancient architecture, or GIS tracking of caribou in northern Canada.

With its black-and-white checkerboard floor and south-facing windows, Baker Library’s dramatic ground-floor foyer—now known as Reiss Hall—is a warm, inviting space well known to every Dartmouth student since the building opened in 1928. Once home to the library’s card catalog, it is one of the most popular places on campus to meet, study, and pause for a moment of reflection.

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Dartmouth’s Dean of Libraries Susanne Mehrer, Richard Reiss Jr. ’66, and President Philip J. Hanlon ’77 at the ceremony dedicating the Dartmouth Library’s Reiss Hall.
Dartmouth’s Dean of Libraries Susanne Mehrer, Richard Reiss Jr. ’66, center, and President Philip J. Hanlon ’77 at the ceremony dedicating the Dartmouth Library’s Reiss Hall. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)

Together with his late wife, Bonnie, and his children, Lauren Reiss Frank and Michael Reiss ’06, Richard Reiss Jr. ’66 has made the dream of a Dartmouth education possible for scores of undergraduates through two generous scholarship funds, and they were among the first donors in the Dartmouth community to make a gift toward the Hood Museum of Art renovation and expansion.

Reiss said he “wanted to do something a little different this time” and decided to support Baker-Berry for the digital age.

“There are many ways that the library can be a connection to the world,” he said. “Now we can reimagine the library system, drawing upon all the potential of the digital age to expand access to information, innovate research methods, and accelerate collaboration between Hanover and other parts of the world. I think that’s pretty exciting.”

The Call to Lead campaign, with a $3 billion fundraising target, is touching all elements of Dartmouth’s mission and seeks to affirm Dartmouth as the unparalleled leader in undergraduate liberal arts education—which includes transforming Dartmouth’s libraries to meet the evolving needs of students and faculty.

Reiss is chairman and founder of Georgica Advisors, a privately owned investment management firm. He has been an active volunteer for the Class of 1966 and Dartmouth in multiple capacities over the decades, including service on the President’s Leadership Council and the Rockefeller Center Board of Visitors.