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Dr. Seuss' Widow Gives Over $10 Million to UCSD

September 26, 1995|TONY PERRY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SAN DIEGO — UC San Diego announced Monday that Audrey S. Geisel, widow of Dr. Seuss author Ted Geisel, is donating more than $10 million to the campus library, an architectural landmark that was a favorite of her late husband.

In keeping with her wishes, university officials would not reveal the size of the donation, except to say that it is the largest ever made to a San Diego institution, which means it exceeds the $10 million previously donated to fund a cancer clinic.

In exchange, the library will be renamed the Geisel Library in a ceremony this fall. The money will be used to increase the university's stock of scholarly information, both in print and electronic databases, and to train students, particularly undergraduates, to access and use that information.

"The UCSD Library is so right for Ted," said Geisel, who lives in nearby La Jolla. "The first time Ted saw the form of that building, he said to me, 'If I had turned my thoughts toward designing a building, it might have looked strangely similar to this.' "

The eight-story library, built in 1970 and expanded in 1992, serves as the architectural and intellectual focal point of the campus. The two lower floors serve as a pedestal for the upper stories of glass and concrete, giving the structure a modernistic, space-age mien.

After her husband's death in 1991, Audrey Geisel donated to the library a $2.3-million collection of his original material, including drawings, sketches, notebooks, books, tapes, records and memorabilia from the last 20 years of his career. The collection was later expanded, giving UC San Diego a full range of materials spanning the breadth of Geisel's creative endeavors.

UC San Diego Chancellor Richard C. Atkinson, soon to become president of the UC system, called the latest gift "a fitting testimony to [the] spirit" of the late author. "Audrey and Ted Geisel shared a love of learning, of words spoken and written, of ideas and of books," Atkinson said.

Audrey Geisel is president of Dr. Seuss Enterprises, which has made the Seuss characters and stories available in films, animation, videos, CD-ROMS and even light opera. She also is involved in several artistic and charitable organizations in San Diego.

The donation was made without strings. The decision to use it for scholarly information and computer literacy was made by the university, officials said.

"This may be the greatest day in my life," said University Librarian Gerald R. Lowell.

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