July 12, 2006

Archivist hired for political papers collection

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale has hired its first archivist for its collection of political papers housed at Morris Library.

Walter D. Ray, assistant professor at St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity in St. Paul, Minn., begins his new duties July 24. He will work in the Special Collections Research Center at Morris Library, which holds collections from five politicians with Southern Illinois ties.

Ray previously taught and worked as an archivist at the University of Notre Dame. He also worked as a Russian language analyst for the U.S. Department of Defense.

"Walter Ray is truly a welcome addition to the library, along with Pamela Hackbart-Dean, the new director of special collections," said David Carlson, dean of library affairs. "Through their efforts, this unit will rightfully be recognized as a world-class research facility."

Ray's responsibilities include organizing, preserving and developing the collection, which illustrate the issues, economy and development of Southern Illinois. The papers include those of the late Sen. Paul Simon, former Rep. Kenneth Gray, former state Sen. Kenneth Buzbee and former St. Louis Mayor Clarence Harmon. SIU President Glenn Poshard also donated papers from his long political career to the collection, which totals more than 3,000 linear feet.

Ray will provide outreach to the SIUC community of scholars and students and others. He also will develop a Web site and exhibits.

"I want to develop a vision for the acquisition of other collections," Ray said. "SIUC has the potential to become an important center for the study of political history for the region."

SIUC Chancellor Walter V. Wendler created the archivist position as part of his faculty hiring initiative, which targets academic areas that bring additional recognition to the University. The initiative program is principally underwriting this position with additional funding from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.

Developing new focuses in special collections that support the reputation of the University in its distinctive competencies, and promoting the history, culture and heritage of the Southern Illinois region are among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.