Community Raises More Than $1 Million to Support Continued Excellence, Service
April 17, 2023

With Stanislaus State students away for spring break, the J. Burton Vasché Library, mentioned several times as the heart of the University, welcomed many of those who are keeping it beating. 

Many of the 245 donors who contributed to The Next Chapter Campaign, recognized on both the commemorative donor wall, and named spaces throughout the building, gathered to celebrate the successful fundraising drive. 

The Next Chapter Campaign Co-Chairs with President Junn and Dean Rodriguez

Led by co-chairs John and Jeani Ferrari (’22 honorary doctorate recipients) and Marlene Stante (’72), the committee of Maryn Pitt Butler (’07), Jennifer Doerksen (’77), Natalie Dykzeul (’16), Adrian Harrell (’98), Michael Ireland, Jr., Alana Navarro (’15), Ursula Navarro, Donna Pierce and Burt and Polly Vasché (’75) raised more than its goal of $1 million in a six-month period to assure continued funding for technology, sustainable furnishings and innovative guest experiences. 

“Your contributions are much more significant than a name on a wall,” said Dean of Library Services Ron Rodriguez. “Your contribution will give current and future students use of the Vasché Library as an integral part of their education and growth, where they gather for studying, research and collaboration and occasionally for quiet time away from the hustle and bustle of the campus. This is their space, and we are grateful for your show of support for their educational endeavors.” 

The invitation to be included on the donor wall in the John and Jeani Ferrari Foyer — opposite the mural commemorating the region’s agricultural roots and funded by the couple — drew more than 200 responses. The names on the donor wall recognize gifts of $100 or more to the campaign. The naming of 28 spaces in the Vasché Library drew gifts ranging from $10,000 to $250,000. Donations were made by alumni, businesses, families and friends who honored loved ones with University ties. 

The Next Chapter Donor Listing 

“We set an ambitious fundraising goal of $1 million,” President Ellen Junn said. “I am thrilled to share that in six months, an extraordinarily short time after the pandemic, we raised a phenomenal $1,050,551. We are truly grateful for your generosity and giving spirit. Your efforts have made it possible for Stan State to better serve students and position them for success by providing the best experience and resources possible.  

 Those who enter this grand facility will see the names on this wall and know that these are individuals who care about future generations of students.” 

Libraries are special to Junn, who oversaw the 2019-21 renovation of the Library, and then The Next Chapter Campaign. 

Growing up in the small farming town of Jenison, Michigan, her first job was as a 14-year-old volunteer in the public library. It satisfied her love of books and led to her first paying job, as a library page, at 16. 

The soon-to-be retired president continues to appreciate libraries, especially the J. Burton Vasché Library. 

“The Library is the heart of our campus,” Junn said. “It is where students gather to study and acquire research materials, learn, collaborate and explore ideas as they envision and create their fabulous futures.” 

The Next Chapter helps ensure future students will continue to enjoy what the Library offers. 

As the celebration focused on the Library’s future, it was impossible to not remember its storied past. 

It was, Junn said, the first building erected on the new campus grounds and named for the University’s first president, J. Burton Vasché. In addition to administrative and student service offices, it housed the cafeteria.  

Mark Vasché was 12 when his father was appointed president of the 15th California State College in 1960. Classes were held at the Turlock Fairgrounds. The site of the current campus was a cornfield. 

The Vasché Family

“I’m a baseball fan so apologies to one of my favorite baseball movies, but this was his field of dreams,” Mark Vasché said. “It was his dream for a long time to have a state college, now university, in the area where he was born and where he started his lifetime as an educator at Oakdale High School. I think if our dad was here today, he would be overwhelmed with pride but more important than that, he would be overwhelmed with gratitude for all the people who took his dream and turned it into this reality we see today. He’d also be very humbled that this building, this Library, was so graciously named in his honor. I know he would be absolutely blown away by the way this Library is the heart of this institution of higher education, the way this Library has been so magnificently transformed from what was primarily a home of printed words on paper into what it is today, an absolutely stunning, 21st century state-of-the-art digital home of information and research and of learning. 

“If my dad was here today, he would be so very pleased to see what happened to his corn field of dreams.” 

Three third-floor rooms are dedicated to the Vasché family: The Dr. J. Burton and Gertrude A. Vasché Special Collections and Archives, The Lenore Vasché Batiste and Joan Vasché Restoration Room, honoring the couple’s two daughters, and The Burt, David and Mark Vasché Digitization Lab, in honor of their three sons. 

J. Burton Vasché left his first teaching job at Oakdale High to work for the Stanislaus County Office of Education, where he met his future wife, Gertrude. He then worked as a state education administrator in Washington and Colorado before becoming California’s assistant director of the State Department of Education. 

Working in Sacramento, Burt Vasché said, allowed his father to work with state politicians to provide a public four-year college in the northern San Joaquin Valley, something for which he’d long advocated. 

None of the founding president’s five children — four of them educators — attended Stan State, but plenty of Vaschés are proud Warriors. 

Burt’s wife Polly, whom he met at Modesto’s Downey High, where he taught English for 35 years, earned her bachelor’s degree from Stan State and went through its single-subject credential program. 

Other spouses and children have worn the red and gold and Mark Vasché, as he introduced family in attendance, pointed to his 5-year-old granddaughter, Grace, and said he expected her to be in the graduating class of 2039. 

J. Burton Vasché died at 52 of cancer and didn’t live to see Stan State move from the fairgrounds to its permanent home, nor see what it would become. Among those who started with him in 1960 and saw that transformation was R. Dean Galloway. 

The original Library Director passed away in 2014, but his name adorns the New Books Reading Room, thanks to the generous donation of Priscilla Peters and her husband, John Miles. 

Peters was a “Galloway Librarian,” hired in 1972 as a junior cataloger. Her appreciation for Galloway, who led the Library until his 1983 retirement, went beyond his offering her a hard-to-come-by position. 

“Coming here as a young librarian, one of the things that struck me was Dean’s total orientation to service,” Peters said. “He wasn’t about building himself up. All his decisions were built around service.” 

Galloway initially stocked the Library by scouring used bookstores for classics and reaching out to existing libraries for any books they were ready to discard. In time he allowed faculty to choose new books with Library staff coordinating and overseeing the final selection. 

“Another thing that was unique about Dean was librarians didn’t just work in their own area of specialization,” Peters said. “I was hired as a junior cataloger and cataloging was my primary focus, but I was also required, as all librarians were, to work at the reference desk for a certain number of hours each week. That enabled the librarians, and Dean did this also, to understand what type of questions the students were coming with and to see if we had resources to fill their requests.” 

Galloway embraced new technology for the library, Peters said. He invested in micro-forms (microfilm, microfiche, etc.), and purchased readers for them, including portable readers that could be checked out. He moved on to online circulation systems, the first step in automation. 

Galloway came to Stan State from then-Humboldt State, his alma mater, where he’d worked as a librarian for 13 years, to create a brand-new Library at Stan State. 

“He was incredible,” Peters said. “He had very progressive beliefs and was truly a champion of intellectual freedom and social responsibility.” 

Now he is memorialized forever in the Library he created.