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Unique Gift from a Unique Professor


JEM Professor Ben Bates has decided to donate his personal academic library to the College of Communication and Information along with an estate gift to provide the financial support required to archive and maintain the materials. His remarkable collection consists of approximately 3,000 music CDs, 2,000 videos, 9,000 print publications (mostly books), and 3,000 digital books, journals and articles.  

“I hope that my collection will benefit current and future students for many years to come,” said Bates. “The wonderful experiences I’ve had with special collections over the years, especially the Wilber Schramm Archives I used while I was teaching at Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), serve as the inspiration for this gift.”

While serving as a Visiting Lecturer at CUHK in 1992-93, Bates discovered that the university’s hilltop location was served by a library half way down the mountain. The difficulty of traversing the mountain in the inhospitable Hong Kong heat and humidity made Bates grateful for the onsite access he had to a special collection that had been donated to CUHK’s Department of Journalism and Mass Communications by communications research pioneer Dr. Wilber Schramm.  Schramm’s gift, which consisted of a large chunk of his private collection,  gave Bates access to a wonderful set of research materials and saved him from having to make the trek to the library. From Thomas Jefferson’s donation of his library after the Library of Congress burned down to more recent donations to struggling schools in emerging countries, the history of donating collections for the greater good is an American tradition. Bates also notes the constraints of limited budgets and the difficulty of obtaining foundational works no longer in press as factors that make providing a unique set of works in a single collection to a source such as a university even more valuable.  

Included in his collection are signed editions, original editions of early communication scholarship, and some rare pieces found through the

many hours Bates has spent browsing through old book stores. While the collection includes few items of extraordinary monetary value, a highly concentrated, in-depth collection focused on the study of communication and information will be of great value to future CCI graduate and undergraduate students. Said Bates, “Because I was inspired by the Schramm gift, my reason for allowing this gift to be publically acknowledged is to inspire others who might be in possession of special collections to make donations that could benefit our students.”

CCI Dean Mike Wirth concurs, “We receive monetary gifts to support current operations and planned gifts which will provide much needed future support for CCI. However, collections and the funds needed to sustain them are not always top-of-mind for our faculty, alumni and friends. We are grateful to Ben for his generosity and foresight in donating his collection and for providing the funds required to make it accessible to current and future generations of CCI students.” 

For more information on cash, in-kind, or estate gifts, please contact Andrew Shafer at or 865.974.3211.