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Endowment Named for Alice Sheets Marriott Will Provide Margin of Excellence for U’s Library

Thanks to a generous gift from The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation, a permanent endowment has been named in honor of Alice Sheets Marriott at the University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library. This endowment will promote excellence in library leadership, community engagement, access to research, and preservation of knowledge through an endowed deanship position. The funding will support collections, facility maintenance and improvement, staff development, and other expenses that are vital to maintaining the Marriott Library as the flagship academic library of the
intermountain west.

Alberta Comer, who has led the library since 2013, will be installed as the inaugural chairholder of the Alice Sheets Marriott Dean of Libraries just before her retirement in June 2023.

“I am humbled to be the inaugural Alice Sheets Marriott Dean of Libraries. This naming honors a woman who was instrumental in the history of the University of Utah and the legacy of performing arts across the country,” explains Comer. “I can think of no more fitting way to pay tribute to her impact on this campus than by joining her name with that of this world-class library at the University of Utah.”

Sarah Shreeves, who has been selected to join the University of Utah as the new dean of libraries following Comer’s retirement, will be the second to serve as chairholder of this role. Shreeves is currently the vice dean of libraries at the University of Arizona and will take the helm at the Marriott Library in June.

Photo of Alice Sheets Marriott.

“We are honored and grateful to receive the Marriott family’s continued support of the J. Willard Marriott Library,” Provost Mitzi Montoya said. “Our library plays an essential role on this campus – from providing research support to students and faculty to offering an expansive collection of vital resources and technology, we could not function without this knowledge repository.”

History of Marriott Family Philanthropy and the Marriott Library

The J. Willard Marriott Library was named for John Willard Marriott, Sr. in 1969, when he made a gift of $1 million to purchase books for the new library, constructed just one year prior. At that time, Mr. Marriott’s gift was the single largest gift made to the University of Utah.

The Marriott Family Foundation has continued to generously support the Marriott Library over the years, including during a major renovation of the library, which concluded in 2009. Most recently, the Foundation made a gift of $5 million in 2017, which included $2 million for building updates and improvements and $3 million to establish the Alice Sheets Marriott Endowment.

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