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News Release — December 9, 1999

Ransom Center Receives $1.37 Million Gift from Marlene Nathan Meyerson Family Foundation; $500,000 from Hoblitzelle Foundation

The Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin announced that it has received gifts of $1.37 million from the Marlene Nathan Meyerson Family Foundation of Santa Fe, New Mexico and $500,000 from the Hoblitzelle Foundation of Dallas, Texas.

The Meyerson and Hoblitzelle Foundation gifts represent major contributions to the Ransom Center's ongoing capital campaign, one of the first ever undertaken by a research library. Begun in 1996 the Center's campaign, consisting of two phases, has raised $18.622 million to date. Two of its main objectives are to increase endowments and fund a major reconstruction of the Center's first and second floor public spaces. The Meyerson and Hoblitzelle gifts both further these goals.

The Meyerson contribution is the largest single private foundation gift in Ransom Center history. Of the $1.37 million total, $874,000 is earmarked for the Center's planned reconstruction. This $6.4 million transformation will provide the Center with new reading rooms and study areas, a theater, and multiple galleries for exhibition of the Center's internationally recognized manuscript, photography, and art collections. Upon the project's completion, the fully renovated second floor, housing reference areas and seminar rooms, will be designated the "David Nathan Meyerson Memorial Research Wing" in memory of David Meyerson who died in 1998.

The remaining $500,000 from the Meyerson Foundation establishes the David Nathan Meyerson Endowment for Collecting Modern Literature, also in tribute to David Meyerson who is the son of Marlene Nathan Meyerson, President of the Meyerson Family Foundation. This endowment strengthens the Center's resources for purchasing papers by both established and up-and-coming authors; David Meyerson was himself an aspiring writer. Commenting on the new endowment, Ransom Center Director Thomas F. Staley observed, "The Meyerson Endowment will enable us to carry on an important tradition at the Center of acquiring the works of promising writers before they become major figures."

Marlene Meyerson, who heads the Meyerson Family foundation, is a longtime friend and benefactor of the Ransom Center. Since 1994 she has served on the Center's Advisory Council and is currently its chairperson. Prior to this recent gift from her namesake foundation, Ms. Meyerson supported the Center in numerous ways, contributing to the David Douglas Duncan Endowment in Photography, the purchase of Isaac Bashevis Singer's archive, and the redesign of the Center's web site.

Her advice and devotion to the Center have been instrumental to the success of its capital campaign. She certainly has plenty of successful experience to share. A long esteemed volunteer fundraiser during her residence in Dallas, Texas, Ms. Meyerson organized two concerts (1994 and 1996) for the American Foundation for AIDS Research. Featuring superstars such as Paul Simon and Chuck Berry, the concerts combined to raise $2 million.

The Center has also recently benefited from a long relationship with the Hoblitzelle Foundation. Both organizations have a long history of contributing to the educational and cultural life in Texas. Karl Hoblitzelle's 1956 gift of rare theater collections forms the cornerstone of the Center's performing arts holdings, and visitors continue to appreciate the exquisite Hoblitzelle Parlor, one of the Center's special collection rooms.

The Hoblitzelle Foundation's recent $500,000 gift is dedicated to the reconstruction of the Center's first and second floor public spaces. In 1997, the Hoblitzelle Foundation donated $125,000 to the Center for the production of preliminary architectural drawings. Their $500,000 gift reflects a generous commitment to making that initial vision a reality.

Both foundations' gifts contribute to the Ransom Center's first ever capital campaign. Phase I of the campaign was announced in 1996 with a goal of $12.5 million. Primary objectives included raising funds for building reconstruction and establishing a $10 million endowment for the perpetual care and growth of the Center's literary and cultural treasures.

By December 1998, three years ahead of schedule, the initial goal had been surpassed by $2 million. During this period, in addition to raising $14 million, the Center increased collection usage by 68 percent and broadened its donor base by more than 200 percent.

In January of 1999, in response to increased reconstruction cost estimates and an outpouring of donor enthusiasm, the Center began a second phase of its capital campaign. Phase II pledges the Center to raise $10 million by 2005, bringing the combined Phase I and Phase II goal to $22.5 million. Funds raised in Phase II will be earmarked for building reconstruction, endowment, and special projects that reflect the Center's emphasis on public programs, research, and technology.

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