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Gift Paves Way for Collaborative Learning Center in OU Library

The Helmerich Foundation of Tulsa will donate $500,000 to create a collaborative learning center inside Bizzell Memorial Library.

University of Oklahoma President David L. Boren announced at the OU Board of Regents meeting today that The Helmerich Foundation of Tulsa is making a $500,000 gift in support of the renovation of a floor in the Neustadt Wing of Bizzell Memorial Library to create a 21st century collaborative learning center.  

“University Libraries has been significantly enhanced by the generous support of Peggy Helmerich and her late husband, Walter Helmerich III, who established both a major endowment for the library and an endowed faculty chair for the dean of Libraries,” Boren said. “This most recent gift continues the Helmerich family’s legacy of generosity.”

In recognition of that support and in honor of Peggy Helmerich’s longtime interest in libraries at OU and in the state, OU Regents voted to name the renovated space as the Peggy V. Helmerich Collaborative Learning Center.

The library project, which is expected to be completed for the fall semester, involves the complete renovation and modernization of approximately 18,000 gross square feet on the Lower Level of the Neustadt Wing. The collaborative learning center will feature informal and flexible learning spaces that can be accessed by students between classes and offer an outlet for students as well as professors to continue collaborations begun in the classroom.

This type of environment enhances student-to-student and faculty-student interaction, active learning and immediate feedback, all essential practices for promoting student learning, said Rick Luce, dean of University Libraries.

The renovation also creates a collaborative classroom and flexible work space areas and includes a variety of individual and group study areas, such as seminar space, a Community Room, a Digital Scholarship Lab, and group meeting and research areas.

The open, contemporary design has large windows that take advantage of the Canyon Garden, with comfortable conversation pits offering views into the garden. Additionally, the popular Bookmark Café is being renovated, with expanded customer seating areas that flow out into the common space.

In addition to University Libraries, the Helmerich family and foundation’s support for OU includes scholarships and an enrichment fund for the School of Drama, which carries Peggy Helmerich’s name; and capital project contributions for the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, the Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, and the Wayman Tisdale Specialty Health Clinic in Tulsa.