Jean O’Brien came to the University of Minnesota in 1989 to teach and do research on American Indians. She now is Distinguished McKnight University Professor and Northrop Professor of History and Chair of the American Indian Studies Department. She has published articles, book chapters, and seven books. A new member of the Friends of the UMN Libraries, O'Brien looks forward to contributing her scholarly expertise. “Like most academics in the humanities and social sciences, I spend a lot of time in libraries and archives,” she says. “I understand their importance to the world — not just to what we [scholars] do but to everybody.”
His natural bent would be toward contemplative study, says Joshua Preston, Friends of the University Libraries board member. But when he sees principles of justice violated, he must speak. He must act. As a soldier in the Minnesota National Guard and as an attorney, Preston has done both.
Patrick Coleman’s love for Minnesota history started early — he was already collecting books on the subject while at the University of Minnesota. “It feels like I was born to do this job” of Acquisition Librarian at the Minnesota Historical Society. But it might not have happened without the University Libraries.
Amelious Whyte, Director for Public Engagement in the U of M College of Liberal Arts, joined the Friends of the Libraries board in 2015 and, starting in June, will become its chair. Whyte is very intentional, believing he is here — in Minnesota or on Earth — for a reason. “I have a vision statement that I created years ago. It’s to be a positive influence on the lives of others. That’s what I strive to do.” And he’s clearly succeeding.
Catherine Jordan's ability to make things happen has served her and organizations well, as she has been weaving arts, education, and health into her career tapestry. “I have been able to design and build things — whether a program, an event, or an organization,” says Jordan, Chair of the Friends of the University Libraries board.
Chinese is a tough language for an English speaker to learn, with thousands of ideographic characters to learn, and four tones in spoken Mandarin. But as a college student, Ann Waltner didn’t yet know enough to be daunted by it. She found the language and the nation fascinating, and eventually became a historian of China and professor of history at the U of M. She's also a member of the Friends of the University Libraries.
University Historian Ann Pflaum — the former Associate Dean of what is now known as the College of Continuing and Professional Studies and author of “The University of Minnesota, 1945-2000” — is now serving on the Board of the Friends of the University of Minnesota Libraries.
School of Architecture Associate Professor Greg Donofrio co-founded the Heritage Studies and Public History graduate program, which strives to add diverse perspectives to conversations about history and preservation. The longtime lover of libraries is a member of the U of M Friends of the Libraries. “There’s no point in creating knowledge if you can’t disseminate knowledge. And that’s part of what libraries do is hold and disseminate knowledge.”
On June 1, Rose McGee, founder of Sweet Potato Comfort Pies, arrived at the memorial for George Floyd Jr. with more than 20 pies, baked the night before by volunteers. It’s a path of caregiving that she began following the 2014 shooting of young Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., by a police officer. Sweet as pie is, and as much attention as it attracts, it’s not just about the pie, says McGee.