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Updated 3:00 PM October 12, 2005




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Washtenaw Community College names library for U-M professor

Richard W. Bailey, the Fred Newton Scott Collegiate Professor of English in LSA, says the Washtenaw Community College (WCC) board's recent decision to name its library and computer commons in his honor was "astonishing and breathtaking."

(Photo by Julia R. Huttar)

Bailey, who has served 30 years as a WCC trustee, says his six terms have been about the important work of increasing opportunities for the students, faculty and staff of the community college.

"The space belongs to the people who have built and use the building," Bailey says, adding that he was quite surprised by the Sept. 27 board action.

According to a WCC news release on the action to name The Richard W. Bailey Library, "An enthusiastic supporter of change and innovation, Bailey has encouraged the board and the administration to move forward and to take risks: a new approach to labor negotiations, a new middle college charter, new academic buildings, new program initiatives, a new fitness center."

"He has been a constant voice on the board for faculty and students as well as an ardent and constant advocate for diversity and for the underserved people in the community. His concern for the less privileged and for those who need assistance or a second chance to obtain an education has been a continual reminder of the importance of this aspect of the college's mission."

Board Chair Diana McKnight-Morton, a U-M alumna, says Bailey is the board's parliamentarian—keeping members on track and reminding them periodically of the importance of their decisions.

"He was the first person to contact me to explain board procedures. He's been my mentor. In fact, he mentors a lot of us," McKnight-Morton says. "For me and the rest of the board it was a natural for him to have this library named in his honor. We wanted to do something for him to recognize his contribution to us, the campus and Ann Arbor."

Bailey began his tenure on the WCC board in 1974 and served in an executive capacity as treasurer (1977-79), secretary (1979-81), vice chair (1981-83) and chair (1985-94 and 1999-2000). He received the college's highest honor, the WCC Award of Merit, in 2004. His current term expires Dec. 31, 2008.

He completed his undergraduate work at Dartmouth College and the University of Edinburgh and holds master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Connecticut. Bailey writes and speaks extensively about the history and structure of the English language, and is a regular columnist in the U-M News-e, a monthly electronic newsletter related to the print version of Michigan Today.

Bailey is a native of Michigan who has lived in Ann Arbor since 1965. He is a recipient of the Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award, U-M Press Award (twice), D'Arms Award for Graduate Student Mentoring and the Regents' Award for Distinguished Public Service. In 1985-86 he served as president of Genesis of Ann Arbor, the non-profit facilities manager for the congregations of Temple Beth Emeth and St. Clare's Episcopal Church. In 2004, he received the Award of Merit from WCC.

"Our new name bespeaks Bailey's belief in giving people a second chance by empowering them with education, a belief in keeping with our conviction in the transformative power of knowledge through the conduit of information," wrote Victor Liu, dean of learning resources at WCC, in a memo to library staff. "There is no better person to name our library after, and the match is most appropriate."

A formal naming ceremony will be held Oct. 30. For more information about the dedication call Judith C. Hommel at (734) 677-5010.

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