Marcia Duncan Lowry and Charles B. Lowry (MSLS ’74) in front of Manning Hall.
The UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS) recently announced a commitment by Charles B. Lowry (MSLS ’74) and Marcia Duncan Lowry to establish the Duncan-Lowry Deanship at SILS. The commitment is the largest in the School’s history and the first at Carolina to be designated for a deanship.
The School recognized the Lowrys at a public celebration on the morning of October 27 in the lobby of Manning Hall. SILS students, faculty, staff, and alumni gathered for the event, which included remarks from SILS Dean and Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor Gary Marchionini and UNC Vice Chancellor and Provost James Dean Jr.
“Without a doubt, SILS is an extraordinary part of our great global public research university,” said the Provost. “And it is devoted alumni and donors like the Lowrys who help us ensure its continued excellence into the future.”
He explained the importance of UNC’s upcoming capital campaign, describing it as a “mechanism to articulate our strategic vision for the future of Carolina and harness the enthusiasm of our alumni and friends to provide the resources that will enable us to deliver on those promises.” Following his comments, he unveiled a framed proclamation that summarizes the Lowrys’ motivations for establishing the Duncan-Lowry Deanship, their previous contributions to the library and information science profession, and the historic significance of their commitment.
Charles Lowry, a SILS Distinguished Alumnus and Board of Visitors member, shared more about what inspired him and Marcia Duncan Lowry to make their commitment to SILS. He credited his friend and mentor, former SILS Dean Edward Holley, who advocated the philosophy of doing things “for the good of the order.” He also cited his and Marcia’s experiences as fundraisers for the academic institutions where Charles previously held leadership roles.
“Our intent was informed by the understanding that strategic opportunities in universities are often missed because of the lack of resources,” he said. “I certainly learned this as a dean or director of five different university libraries and as interim dean of the iSchool at the University of Maryland. This shaped our desire to support a named deanship at SILS, one that would adhere to the position and not the individual—one that would provide discretionary resources when those strategic opportunities to support teaching, research, new programs, students, and faculty occur.”
Marchionini closed the event by once again thanking the Lowrys and recognizing the enduring legacy of Holley’s “good of the order” directive. “This notion that we’re all part of something larger really does imbue the way that we work, and it’s a very special culture that exists here,” he said. “I am so happy that Ed and others that came before us were able to lay down the foundation for that culture, and inspire people like Charles to believe in that and remember it, because it continues to pay dividends.”
Later in the day the Lowrys were again honored at a private dinner hosted in the SILS Library. Commendations and toasts were offered by Dean Marchionini, as well as Vice Chancellor for University Development David Routh.
In addition to their financial commitment to establish the Duncan-Lowry Deanship, the Lowrys have agreed to serve as co-chairs of the committee that will help steer SILS’ efforts during the university-wide capital campaign. SILS’ dean, faculty and some of the school’s closest leadership alumni and supporters have identified $16 million worth of specific, discrete fundraising priorities that will maximize the student experience, ensure that SILS is the preferred choice of the world’s most outstanding faculty, and build an intentional culture of innovation and impact.
Charles B. Lowry enrolled in SILS after developing an appreciation for the work of librarians while earning his PhD in history at the University of Florida. Instruction by UNC’s exceptional faculty members and mentorship by Dean Edward Holley profoundly influenced his professional development. Graduating with an MSLS in 1974, he embarked on a remarkable career, which included serving as director of libraries at Elon College, University of South Alabama, and University of Texas at Arlington (UTA); university librarian at Carnegie Mellon University; dean of libraries at the University of Maryland (UMD); and executive director of the Association of Research Libraries in Washington, D.C. He has made a large contribution to teaching, scholarship, and editorial work in the field. The SILS Alumni Association recognized him as a Distinguished Alumnus in 2001. He agreed to serve as a member of the SILS Board of Visitors in 2012 and later as its chair.
Marcia Duncan Lowry earned her MSLS from Florida State University in 1975 with induction to Beta Phi Mu. She completed the master’s-level studies in art history at UNC and began her career at UNC Charlotte’s Atkins Library. She held management positions in both public and university libraries, as well as leadership roles in art librarianship and preservation. She maintained a special affinity for academic librarianship and spent the last years of her career as managing/copy editor of portal Libraries and the Academy (Johns Hopkins University Press). She was also an active partner in development activities related to Charles’ senior academic leadership roles, particularly at UTA and UMD, where they successfully coordinated endeavors for two major university capital campaigns.
This is story number 81 in the Carolina Stories 225th Anniversary Edition magazine.