Planned Gift Makes Big Impact on Fisher’s Library

March 27, 2024

The activity of construction at the site of the Lavery Library Modernization and Renovation Project is in part thanks to the planned gift of St. John Fisher University alumnus Leon Creek ’60.

The construction site for the Lavery Library renovations.

A member of the 1948 Society, Fisher’s planned giving society, Creek indicated a $1.8 million estate gift to the University in support of the Fisher Forward campaign. Creek earned a bachelor’s degree from Fisher and a master’s from Syracuse University. He worked at the University of Rochester’s Science, Engineering, Math, and Philosophy Library for 33 years, and after moving to Lexington, Kentucky, he spent 20 years volunteering at the University of Kentucky library. A prolific writer, Creek published more than 70 book reviews in journals including Physics Today, Science Magazine, and Library Journal. He also received two honorary doctoral degrees from the Philosophy Science Association and the American Catholic Philosophical Association.

Upon Creek’s passing in 2021, the University’s Board of Trustees honored his passion for libraries by directing his philanthropy to the Lavery Library Modernization and Renovation Project. His gift funded the contracted work with Brightspot, a planning firm that specializes in creating libraries, learning commons, and other spaces to enhance the student experience at colleges and universities. Over the course of several months, Brightspot conducted a thorough study of the library space and services, as well as the needs and expectations of the students, to better understand the current state and identify opportunities for the future. Their work included interviews with University leadership, faculty and staff, and students; a series of feedback workshops open to the campus; and a peer comparison report that studied and compared Lavery Library with eight peer institution libraries. The report recommended programmatic shifts in the way in which the library delivers its services today, with a focus on more coordinated services, student success, and an overall better use of the space.

Following the study, Fisher partnered with HOLT Architects, an Ithaca-based firm with an expertise in the higher education, whose design was informed by Brightspot’s findings and guided by an intra-disciplinary committee. Now, construction has begun and the newly renovated and modernized library is slated to open by fall 2025.

“We are grateful to Leon for including Fisher in his estate planning,” said Dr. Gerard J. Rooney, president of the University. “He dedicated his career to sharing knowledge with others in the library setting, and through this gift, his knowledge of and passion for libraries and the academic pursuits they help to foster will continue to do so for generations of future Fisher students.”