Hesburgh Libraries receive largest gift in history from Navari Foundation

by Dennis Brown

Rudy and Jane Navari Rudy and Jane Navari

The Marilyn & Rudolph M. Navari Charitable Foundation has made a $10 million gift to the Hesburgh Libraries at the University of Notre Dame, the largest gift in the libraries’ history, surpassing the $6 million Ford Foundation Challenge Grant that helped fund the original construction of the then-Memorial Library in the early 1960s.

The gift will be used in part to fund renovation of the future home for the Navari Family Center for Digital Scholarship in the Hesburgh Library, as well as to establish an endowment to support digital library services and research projects related to the center.

“I am deeply grateful to Rudy and Jane Navari and their family’s foundation for this generous gift,” said Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president. “It recognizes the importance of a library for any university community, and the centrality of the Hesburgh Libraries for Notre Dame. This gift will allow us to expand and enhance our library services through digital technology to support the critical work of scholars now and in the future.”

In a research world in which it is critical for today’s students and faculty to understand how to use and fully leverage emerging technologies, the Navari Family Center for Digital Scholarship will incorporate state-of-the-art technologies to fundamentally transform the ways in which teaching, research and scholarship are performed, while connecting users to rapidly expanding bodies of knowledge at Notre Dame and around the world.

“As the digital landscape rapidly evolves, libraries have emerged as key partners throughout the full life cycle of teaching and research,” said Diane Parr Walker, Edward H. Arnold University Librarian. “The Navari family’s gift will bring together technology, digital library expertise and subject area expertise to equip our next generation of scientists and scholars to create new knowledge in a digital environment and make a more profound impact in the world.”

With partnerships campus-wide, the Navari Family Center for Digital Scholarship will serve as an innovation hub that enhances the teaching, learning and research process from a holistic perspective. The center will be composed of two distinct yet synergistic entities: the Digital Research Lab and the Digital Production Facility.

The Digital Research Lab will provide much-needed access to research consultation and to an integrated suite of digital services, including in the areas of data visualization, GIS consultation, data management planning, data analysis and metadata consulting. The lab’s advanced computing technologies and technical expertise will enable the Notre Dame community to utilize new media, sophisticated search and visualization tools and other digital resources. The lab will include a high-tech meeting room and classroom.

The Digital Production Facility will drive a superior digitization program that is essential to advancing research across the University. It will spur new forms of scholarship and enable researchers around the globe to access Notre Dame’s unique materials and renowned special collections. In this way, scholars near and far will discover the exceptional breadth and quality of the University’s various academic programs and resources.

Rudy Navari earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Notre Dame, his master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Virginia, and his M.D. degree from the Medical College of Virginia.

“We are pleased to support the Center for Digital Scholarship,” the Navaris said. “We trust this center will significantly enhance the learning experiences of Notre Dame students, staff and faculty.”

Rudy Navari joined the World Health Organization in 2014 and now serves as director of the Cancer Care Program of Central and South America based in Atlanta. He joined the Notre Dame faculty in 1999 as director of the Walther Cancer Research Center. In 2005, while continuing as an adjunct professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Notre Dame, he was appointed head of the Indiana University School of Medicine-South Bend, and in 2011 became the clinical director of the Harper Cancer Research Institute, a joint initiative of Notre Dame and Indiana University. He stepped down from that position in 2013 to lead a National Cancer Institute task force to define research directions for the long-term survival of cancer. He has accepted an invitation to serve on the advisory council for the Hesburgh Libraries.

In addition to serving as the director of the Marilyn & Rudolph M. Navari Charitable Foundation, Jane Navari is a registered nurse and has held positions as head nurse in the Emergency Department at the University of Alabama-Birmingham Medical Center, and as director of nursing at Arden Nursing Facility in Seattle and at Hillhaven Nursing Facility in Birmingham. She has also served as a lead volunteer at the Holy Cross Sanctuary and Rehabilitation Center in South Bend.

The family has generously supported Notre Dame for many years, including gifts for the Navari Family Professor of Life Sciences, cancer research, the Marilyn Jane Navari Fellowship and the Mr. and Mrs. Rudolph F. Navari Scholarship. They have been contributors to the University’s Sorin Society since 1985.