The University Record, July 6 , 1999

Wetzels’ $1 million gift funds projects at Library, UMS

By Mary Nehls-Frumkin
University Library

JoAn and Roy Wetzel. Photo courtesy University Musical Society
Alumni JoAn (’58) and Roy (’59) Wetzel have established the JoAn & Roy Wetzel Library Endowment Fund and the JoAn & Roy Wetzel Endowment Fund at the University Musical Society (UMS). The Wetzels will fund the two endowments with a total of at least $1 million. In addition, Roy Wetzel, a retired NBC executive, will give to the University Library his NBC Elections Collection, consisting of video and audio recordings as well as documents.

Part of the income from the JoAn & Roy Wetzel Library Endowment Fund will be used to acquire German language research materials to support teaching and research by the faculty and students in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literature. The remaining income will fund preservation of these materials and will be used to maintain and expand the elections collection.

“The bequest by JoAn and Roy is important to the Library in two ways,” said William A. Gosling, director of the University Library. “First, we will be able to augment U-M’s German language research materials as well as collections in the areas of communication, political science, history and media. Second, but of equal importance, we will be able to maintain and preserve these materials. JoAn and Roy are to be commended for remembering this significant, but often forgotten, component of building valuable collections. Through their support, the Wetzels have ensured that these collections will be expanded and preserved for future researchers,” he added.

“The generous gift from the Wetzels to the Musical Society will be used to carry on important aspects of our programming that have been cherished by Roy and JoAn,” said Kenneth C. Fischer, director of the University Musical Society. “They have been loyal attendees and supporters of our Choral Union and Chamber Series. Their gift will help us to continue to provide the great recitalists, international orchestras and chamber ensembles as well as artists’ residencies that are a part of these series and the 120-year tradition of UMS.”

The Wetzels have been enthusiastic supporters of the University Library and UMS since their move to Ann Arbor in 1993, a few years after Mr. Wetzel’s retirement as the general manager of elections and polling for NBC News. Their support of the Library extends through the Friends of the Library as members, and as members of the Friends’ Board of Directors.

Roy Wetzel was born in a German neighborhood of Detroit, and began collecting German stamps when he was 10 years old, an interest that has continued to the present. Wetzel pointed out that “stamps reflect history. They mirror, for example, the terrible inflation of 1923; new stamps and stamp rates appeared every week.”

In recent years, he has devoted much effort to the study of German language and history, including building a computer database of German history, covering the period from 1870 to the present. Since moving to Ann Arbor he has spent a considerable amount of time in the University Library working on the database project.

While living in New York, the Wetzels attended concerts on an almost weekly basis and have now made UMS an important part of their lives in Ann Arbor. “It’s amazing to look in The New York Times on Sunday and see that the same orchestras appearing in Carnegie Hall or Lincoln Center are also making stops in Ann Arbor.”