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Leo and Dottie Kolligian

UC Merced Library to be Named for Leo And Dottie Kolligian

June 11, 2001

FRESNO - One of the three initial buildings on the University of California, Merced campus will be named in honor of Leo Kolligian, a Fresno native and former University of California Regent, and his late wife, Dottie. UC Merced Chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey today will announce a substantial naming gift from Leo Kolligian and his extended family during a celebration to be held beginning at 2 p.m. at the UC Center, Fresno.

In recognition of this generous commitment and the Kolligians' advocacy and support of UC Merced, the main library on campus will be named the Leo and Dottie Kolligian Library. Also serving as an information technology center, the Kolligian Library will house an array of new and traditional information resources and services, computer laboratories, instructional technology support, multimedia services and library service instructional rooms.

Kolligian, an attorney and developer who graduated from California State University, Fresno and UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law, practiced law in Fresno for more than 50 years. He served as Deputy California Attorney General under Robert Kenny and as a former Chairman of the UC Board of Regents. As Chair of the Board, he championed the cause for the first University of California campus in the San Joaquin Valley. In 1988, he moved for up to three new UC campuses, with the first one to be built in the Valley, and the Regents unanimously passed his motion.

Asked to serve as the first two members of the UC Merced Foundation Board of Trustees, Leo and Dottie Kolligian in turn persuaded other leaders throughout the San Joaquin Valley to join this key advisory board of the UC Merced campus.

"Leo Kolligian has earned the reputation as the father of the UC Merced campus for his steadfast support of the campus and his unrelenting commitment to ensure that it be located in the San Joaquin Valley," said Chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey. "His dedicated and devoted wife, Dottie, was his partner in their advocacy for the new campus and was named UC Merced Trustee of the Year in December 2000. It is thus fitting that one of our first buildings at UC Merced honor their legacy."

Most notable in that legacy is the Kolligians' lifelong commitment to educational and charitable causes and activities.

"I am honored, elated and greatly appreciative of the respect that our family will be permanently associated with a world-class university, which will serve generations of outstanding young students from the Central Valley," said Leo Kolligian. "I am grateful and particularly pleased and thankful that the library, which I consider to be the heart of a university, will bear our names."

Leo Kolligian served for 12 years on the UC Board of Regents, including service as Chairman. He is past Chairman of the Saint Agnes Medical Center Board of Directors, past president of Boys Club of Fresno and the former President of the Armenian General Benevolent Union. In addition, he is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Fresno County Heart Association, Fresno Cancer Society, Sequoia Council of Boy Scouts and Fresno Arts Center, and a Trustee of the Boalt Hall School of Law at UC Berkeley. In 1998, he was Knighted in New York by the Sovereign and Venerable Order of St. John Priory in the United States of America.

Named Trustee Emeritus of the Fresno Metropolitan Museum in 1990 and the Saint Agnes Medical Center in 1997, he also was appointed as a Trustee Emeritus of the Professional Office Corporation of the Medical Center and was a member of the Board of Directors of the Fresno Historical Society.

Also a Fresno native and community leader, Dottie Kolligian founded the Fresno Chapter of Child Help USA, a community service organization for abused children, and volunteered at Fresno Community Hospital for 35 years. She belonged to the Fresno Historical Society's VIP support group, the La Comida Guild and Service Alliance of Fresno. In addition, she was active with the Fresno Symphony League, the Fresno Metropolitan Museum and the Fresno Cancer Society.

Dottie Kolligian attended the CSU Fresno campus and later established student scholarships at Harvard University, Stanford University and the University of California. A talented artist and musician, she was invited to play in the first violin section of the Fresno Symphony.

Founding Librarian

In addition to the tribute to the Kolligians and brief testimony by Leo Kolligian on behalf of the Kolligian family, Monday's program will include a presentation by UC Merced Founding Librarian Bruce Miller. He will discuss "The Research Library of the 21st Century" and share his vision for the UC Merced library's services and open spaces. An initial artist's conception of a view of the Kolligian Library also will be presented.

California Governor Gray Davis' 2001-2002 budget proposal allocates $162.4 million for the initial creation of infrastructure and the first three buildings at UC Merced, including $56.5 million for the library/information technology center.

Leo Kolligian and his extended family are committing their financial gift to establish a permanent endowment for the library. As University Librarian, Miller will administer the annual income from the endowment and direct the funds to support the library's most critical needs.

Literacy Celebration

In honor of the naming announcement, a literacy celebration will follow with a reading of passages from a book by Gary Soto, a Fresno native and writing professor at UC Riverside and UC Berkeley. Listening to the story as part of their first day in UC Merced's Malaga Summer Program will be approximately 40 kindergarten through third-grade students, who each will receive one of Soto's "Too Many Tamales," "The Old Man and His Door" or "Chato's Kitchen" books for children.

Serving 95 low-income, first-generation, college-bound students who live in Malaga, the Malaga Summer Program is in its second year. The program is a joint effort between the Malaga County Water District, UC Merced, the Sheriffs Activity League, Fresno EOC and Chevron, with the University responsible for the academic portion of the camp, including leadership, computer applications and language-development classes. The University also coordinates the weekly field trips students take to such places as the Monterey Aquarium, UC Berkeley and Hearst Castle.

The Kolligian naming gift will be announced during a celebration at 2 p.m. today (Monday, June 11) in the Inyo-Kern Room of the UC Center, Fresno at 550 East Shaw Avenue (across from Fashion Fair mall) in Fresno.