Bessant gift to promote career success for LIS students

Donna Bessant
Donna Bessant / Courtesy of Illinois State University

Donna Bessant (MS '70) wants today's library and information science students to succeed in their chosen profession and experience the "joyful rewards" of working with young people, as she did during her career. To lend them a hand, she has directed a portion of her estate to establish scholarships for iSchool students in need. The scholarships will support everyday expenses and advance the short- and long-term goals for students who plan to work with children and young adult services in libraries.

Bessant earned a BS in education from Illinois State University, an MS/LIS from Illinois, and a Certificate of Educational Administration from the University of San Francisco. She began her career as a classroom teacher in a Chicago suburb. Following two years of experience, she joined the Overseas Dependents Schools and taught children from military families in Okinawa and Germany. While in Germany, Bessant began to consider an advanced degree in a field connected to education and ultimately decided, "what better connection could there be than school libraries?"

Bessant started her LIS coursework while still teaching overseas, coming to the University only in the summers of 1966 through 1969. After completing her master's degree, she worked in librarianship and administration in the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District in California. She also taught courses in information science, literacy, and children's literature for master's programs in various educational institutions.

Bessant retired from the district as director of instructional materials and school libraries in 2000, but she continues to work on literacy projects with the Monterey County Office of Education. Bessant is also involved in additional book and reading projects, including Reading Is Fundamental and the International Board on Books for Young People.

"I received outstanding preparation for library service through the LIS program at Illinois and truly loved my entire career," Bessant said. "Because I accumulated an estate of some value, I chose to share with an educational institution that would train school librarians and assist them with daily expenses. Therefore, I wrote the iSchool at Illinois into my trust and hope that it will support some wonderful people who will bring library collections and services to students in schools."

If you would like to designate your estate gift for a particular use or gift fund within the School, please contact Diana Stroud in the iSchool Advancement Office, (217) 244-9577 or dstroud@illinois.edu. Thank you for your support of our School!

Updated on
Backto the news archive

Related News

Professorship to support history of libraries and the information professions

For more than a century, the iSchool has been, and continues to be, a top-tier school for preparing leaders for the library and information professions. Now the iSchool is pleased to announce the establishment of a new endowed professorship, the Professorship in the History of Libraries and the Information Professions. The professorship was spearheaded by Laurel A. Grotzinger (MS '58, PhD '64), who passed away in 2017; Don (PhD '72) and Avis Davis; and Mark (PhD '83) and Barbara Tucker.

Shaping the Narrative: Carey Cranston

In the very back of the American Writers Museum there is a corner where two walls meet, each filled from top to bottom with words, seemingly random. The light is low, and people gather as a projector illuminates these words to highlight quotes from famous authors and create shapes such as rolling waves and the distinct torch of the Statue of Liberty. Every eight minutes it refreshes itself and is mesmerizing to watch. It creates meaning out of disorder, ever-changing both in perspective and content.

Cary Cranston

Gregory Knott appointed as U of I secretary

Gregory Knott (MS '17), an administrator for nearly two decades at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a graduate of two U of I System universities, has been appointed secretary of the Board of Trustees and the University, President Tim Killeen announced.

Greg Knott

Alumni selected as ALA Emerging Leaders

Three iSchool alumni have been selected by the American Library Association (ALA) to participate in its 2020 class of Emerging Leaders.

Elizabeth (Lizzy) Boden (MS '18), Teresa Moreno (MS '19), and Jodi Silverman (MS '16) are included in this year's class of fifty individuals from across the country. This leadership development initiative provides opportunities for newer library professionals to participate in problem-solving work groups, network with peers, observe ALA structure, and serve the profession in a leadership capacity.

Richardson legacy to live on through new award

To her many students, Professor Emerita Selma Richardson (1931-2019) was not only a dedicated teacher but also a mentor and role model. At the iSchool, she taught classes on children's literature and served as an advisor to students pursuing careers as school librarians. An authority on school library media services, Richardson worked in a number of school libraries, including Oak Park and River Forest High School, before joining the University of Illinois in 1974.

Selma Richardson