Sul H. Lee, dean of University Libraries and Peggy V. Helmerich Chair at the University of Oklahoma, has been selected as a 2012 inductee into the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame, sponsored by the Oklahoma Higher Education Heritage Society. The honor recognizes Lee’s numerous contributions to higher education within the state.
Lee has served as dean of University Libraries at OU for more than 30 years. His time at OU has been marked with significant growth in terms of resources, space and fundraising.
During Lee’s tenure, OU Libraries’ collections have grown from 1.7 million to 5.5 million volumes and from more than 14,000 to 70,000 serials. OU Libraries’ expenditures for materials have grown from just over $1 million to $15 million, while the number of library personnel also has grown, though thanks to vastly improved technology, that growth has been relatively modest. The number of professional staff rose from 46 to 61, support staff from 84 to 96, and the number of student assistants almost doubled. The library also has experienced significant physical growth, including the addition of the Doris W. Neustadt Wing to Bizzell Memorial Library, for which Lee was instrumental in planning and raising funds. The wing opened to the public in May 1982 and added more than 92,000 square feet of space to the main library.
Library operations have undergone significant transformations since Lee was named dean. When he started at OU, the collections were accessed via a card catalog, and reference librarians staffed each floor to provide assistance. Today, library users can get help 24/7 via the Web and have access to many online help options and interactive tutorials. Lee has been key to keeping OU’s library system at the forefront of these changes and innovations.
Lee played a key role in launching Books That Inspire exhibition in collaboration with the OU Athletics Department as a way to celebrate reading and recognize National Library Week in 2001.
Under Lee’s leadership, the Bizzell Library Society was developed. This group has been instrumental in building the library endowment and achieving fundraising goals. The library’s endowment has also achieved significant growth, growing from approximately $60,000 to more than $25 million.
The 2012 Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place on Tuesday, October 9, 2012, at the Jim Thorpe Museum and Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City.