David K. Scott was Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, 1993-2001.
This is an archive of the Chancellor's Web site during his tenure.

The W.E.B. Du Bois Library Makes a Gorgeous - and Inviting - Entrance into the 21st Century.

The technical term is "to spall." It means "to break or chip, especially as related to stone." One day, in the midst of the 1970's buildup that turned UMass from a small land-grant campus into one of the country's major research universities, the bricks on the side of the new library tower started spalling. In effect, the building began to shed.

The initial defense, hay bales that isolated the spalling zone (calling to mind our agricultural heritage), was soon replaced by a "temporary" chain link fence. Now, three decades later, after having imprinted its protective but rusty image on the memories of 136,000 alumni, the fence's time has come. It's coming down, being replaced by a totally redesigned library area. Pedestrians will still be safe from the possibility of spalling chips, but their surroundings will now include new benches, walkways, plantings, and an elegant new fence.

Catalyst for this transformation is Margo Crist, who became the director of the libraries in 1997. One of her many priorities was "to get rid of that ugly chain link. I would be the first person to line up and whack that fence," she said, "and I bet there are a lot of others who would like to do the same." Shortly after her arrival, the staff of the W.E.B. Du Bois Library began working with Facilities Planning to reclaim the courtyard gardens. That successful project led to the next - new landscaping around the building. The campus administration made the library project a top priority in the competition for funds from the UMass President's Office, which soon bought into the plan with a $215,000 contribution. Now only $75,000 still needed to be raised to complete the whole project. That's when the Whack the Fence campaign was launched in March 1999.

"I thought it would be a Statue of Liberty type campaign, with a lot of people giving small gifts," said Arnette Nelson, the director of development for the Du Bois Library.

She was right. Nelson and the library staff collaborated in a building effort comparable to the joint venture of our first students and faculty, who physically constructed the new campus of Massachusetts Agricultural College in the 1860s. Talk about resourceful. Staff members all joined in. A 1994 "Lego Library" model, originally part of an Isenberg School of Management project, was converted into a huge piggy bank for contributions. One librarian gave a dollar for every homer socked by the Red Sox in spring training - and challenged others to do the same. People collected cans and bottles for their refunds. A web site (www.library.umass.edu/fence) was set up so visitors could take "cyber whacks" at the fence while making their contributions. The most visible idea was the "greening of the fence;" for each dollar donated a green ribbon was tied to the old fence. And the Class of 1999, the last class to have lived their four years with the fence, left their Senior Class Gift in support of a fence worthy of the new millennium. Thanks to a loan from the Provost's Office, the entire construction project is scheduled for completion by the start of the fall 1999 semester. The library landscaping is one of the campus beautification projects being promoted by the faculty and staff portion of Campaign UMass. It is also a fine prototype for the $5-million development effort by Campaign UMass to help bring the library up to standards recommended by the American Association of Universities (AAU).

UMass Web Links
Campaign UMassUMass Home PageChancellor's Office


Staying True to the Dream Vital Connections Flower Tower Industrial Vocations Learning By Doing A Fish Story