In 1994, while still located in the Brister Library and tower building, Director of
Libraries, Dr. Lester J.Pourciau, initiated the formation of Friends of the University
of Memphis Libraries. The Assistant to the Director, Tom Mendina, subsequently organized
a Steering Committee, comprised largely of former U of M faculty who were experts
in organizational structure and in the language of constitutional law.
A small group of supporters began meeting even before the move to the new McWherter
Library Building in the fall and approved the proposed Constitution and By-laws under
the leadership of Dr. William H. Howick, on April 2, 1995. Dr. Howick was elected
as the organization's first president. During his tenure, the Constitution and By-laws
were revised three times: October 24, 1995; April 16, 1996 and April 27, 1997. He
led the Executive Council to aggressively seek individual and organizational membership.
Dr. Lasley Dameron became president in July, 1997. Under his leadership, the Friends
established an endowment account of $10,000 with the U of M Foundation, with the stated
intention of increasing it to $20,000 over a ten-year period for the purpose of using
the acquired interest to purchase books for the U of M libraries.
Dr. Pierre Secher served as president from July, 1999, to June, 2003. During his tenure,
Dr. Lester Pourciau retired as Director of Libraries and Dr. Sylverna Ford became
the new Dean of Libraries. The Constitution and By-laws were revised in November 2001
to reflect this change, to clarify the process for making amendments, and to modify
membership categories. At the suggestion of Vice-President, Dr. Charles Stagg, the
Executive Council was enlarged to include at-large members.
Dr. Charles Stagg became president in July of 2003. The Constitution and By-laws were
again revised, in April 2004, to refine the process of executive nominations and to
redefine the terms and categories of membership. Starting as an at-large member and
progressing to vice-president, Sue Reid Williams was elected the first female and
non-academic president and served from July 2005, until June 2008. Under her leadership,
the Friends were able to provide a minimum of $6,000 annually to the Libraries for
books and equipment and to raise the goal of the endowment to $100,000.
From July 2008 through 2010, Kay Farrish, who served as Vice-President under Ms.
Williams, served as president. Under Ms. Farrish, the dates of membership and tenure
of elected officers changed to coincide with the calendar year, keeping the budget
with the university fiscal year. The Constitution and Bylaws were subsequently changed
by vote of the membership.
Beginning in 2011, Janell Rudolph, a retired librarian, became president and is currently
serving in that capacity until the end of 2012.