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VENTURA COUNTY NEWS

Fund-Raiser for USC to Run Reagan Library

May 16, 2000|COLL METCALFE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

SIMI VALLEY — A former political consultant who is a key fund-raiser for USC has been appointed director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, the fourth director in its nine-year history.

R. Duke Blackwood, who has pledged to raise the library's profile in part by improving its ties to the academic community, will assume stewardship of the library on June 19, said chief archivist John Carlin.

"His background in forging relationships with constituencies and in program development and his strong ties to academia will be an asset to the Reagan library as it nears its 10th anniversary," Carlin said in a prepared statement.

The library will celebrate 10 years in November 2001 and has had about as many directors as the former president had chiefs of staff.

Blackwood, 41, will replace Mark Hunt, who left in April to lead the Roosevelt Presidential Library in Hyde Park, N.Y.

"I'm really very excited to get to work," Blackwood said. "This is a great opportunity, and I've got a lot of ideas that I think will be good for the library and community."

Library officials applauded Blackwood's selection, saying his commitment to education and raising the profile of the institution will be a boon to the library.

"His background is perfect for the job," said Assistant Director Dennis Daellenbach. "He and I had a chance to chat, and he obviously has some real enthusiasm for the job and meeting the challenges the library faces."

Blackwood is executive director of the University of Southern California Associates, which helps the university raise more than $200 million a year for research and education.

Previously, Blackwood was a political consultant, specializing in fund-raising and public relations strategies. He served as finance chairman for former Gov. George Deukmejian's campaign committee.

Heading the Reagan library, however, will require Blackwood to wear a number of hats.

"I think the ability to preserve history and work with the community on an educational level will be a highlight of the work I do there," he said. "But there is a technical side to the job, which is going to take a lot of work."

The library is one of 10 presidential libraries operated by the Archives and Records Administration.

The library, which is a museum, archive and educational institution, houses the official records of Reagan's eight-year presidency.

In addition to the more than 100,000 artifacts, the library has nearly 50 million pages of documents, 1.6 million photographs and thousands of hours of video and audio recordings.

Library officials believe Blackwood's experience and commitment will help the library reach its goals of increasing fund-raising and expanding the number of educational programs.

Among his immediate plans, Blackwood said he will work to build better partnerships between the library and Southern California public schools and universities.

Said Daellenbach, "He's going to bring a fresh perspective, which is always good and something we value."

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