President Kevin Reilly may be retiring from his position as president of the UW system, but unique collections of Irish literature will allow his memory and legacy to live on in every university library across the state.
On Tuesday, Feb. 4 at 9:40 a.m. in the lobby of the Learning Resource Center, Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Bernie Patterson, presented Reilly’s retirement book with his personal dedication to Professor Kathy Davis, UWSP’s library director, to add this special tribute to the library’s collection.
There are 30 books altogether with 26 personalized messages—four being sent to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Each of the books features a spot in which every chancellor or dean had space to compose a special, personalized, message to Reilly.
The gift was presented as a special surprise at Reilly’s retirement party.
“I told him that he couldn’t keep them, that he’ll have to check them out just like anyone else,” Patterson said.
Patterson was the brains behind this project. With the help of Davis, they worked from a list and purchased all the materials necessary to be certain that each individual university did not already have the book in its collection.
“This campus made it happen for the rest of the state. It would not have happened without UWSP,” Davis said.
The floral book plates were printed here at UWSP, forever connecting the book to Stevens Point.
On each book plate, there is a dedication that reads, “This is one of a set of Irish literature books given to UW institutions to honor UW System’s sixth President, Kevin P. Reilly, champion of more graduates, proud Irish American, published scholar in Irish studies, and devoted connoisseur of poetry—fondly known for reading a poem at virtually every Board of Regents’ meeting.”
“It seems only right that we do this in his honor. We really wanted to do something meaningful for Reilly to show him how much he is appreciated,” Patterson said.
Patterson’s personalized note to Reilly reads “Kevin— the heart and soul of any university is the library, so it is only fitting that this tribute to you will reside in our library, as you have been the heart and soul of the UW System all these years.”
All of the books will be installed in each library within a special rare books collection where they can forever be used and displayed.
UWSP’s book includes four complete novels by Flann O’Brien: At Swim-Two-Birds, The Third Policeman, The Poor Mouth, The Hard Life, and The Dalkey Archive.
Anyone can easily gain access to the book by inquiring about it in the Nelis R. Kampenga University Archives and Area Research Center on the fifth floor of the LRC.