Howard Celebrates Congressman and University Officials Who Made Louis Stokes Health Sciences Library Possible

By Brielle Williams
Howard University News Service

WASHINGTON – Twelve years ago, Howard University and its Health Sciences colleges and schools faced a major problem. 

They needed a state-of-the-art health sciences library.  The one the university had was old and too small.

Located between the College of Medicine and the College of Dentistry, the school’s then library seated only 130 people, when what the university needed was a facility that would accommodate nearly five times that many.

“We grew out of it,” recalled Dr. Robert L. Copeland Jr., an associate professor in the College of Medicine’s Department of Pharmacology.  “That’s it.”

But how was the university going to find the $20 million needed to build a new structure and the additional $7.5 million dollars to furnish it?   And then who was going to oversee its construction?

An energetic, resourceful Ohio congressman and a hard-working committee of Howard University faculty and staff wrestled with that question for more than two years, and their answer is what today is the Louis Stokes Health Sciences Library

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the library and the university and library will mark the occasion with a two-day symposium November 14-15 and a health fair and gala Nov. 16.

The events will honor former Ohio U.S. Rep. Louis Stokes, who procured through the federal government all of the money for its construction.  They will also honor Copeland, who chaired the 20-member committee responsible for the design and building of the facility, Senior Vice President Hassan Minor, a driving force in its construction, former university President H. Patrick Swygert and others at Howard involved with the project.

During panel discussions and luncheons, the symposium will feature prominent speakers, such as Dr. Milton Corn, deputy director for Research and Education at the National Library of Medicine; Dr. David Satcher, the nation’s first African-American U.S. Surgeon General; Dr. Helena O. Mishoe, director of the Office of Research Training and Minority Health; Dr. Regina Smith James, director of the Division of Special Populations for the National Institute on Child Health and Development; Dr. Wayne Giles, director of the Division of Adult and Community Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Keith W. Cogdill, Ph.D., director of the National Institutes of Health Library.

Stokes, former U.S. representative for the 21st District of Ohio, will be the featured guest during a gala celebration from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the J.W. Marriott Washington, D.C. on Pennsylvania Avenue.  An oral history on the early days of constructing the library will be presented during the dinner.

The library, which opened in July 2001, was dedicated in Stokes’ name on Nov. 16 of that year.

Its resources and services support teaching, practice and research for the Howard University Hospital and the colleges of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health Sciences, and Pharmacy, said Cynthia L. Henderson, the library’s executive director.    

“The Louis Stokes Health Sciences Library is a symbol of knowledge, learning, practice and research,” Henderson said.  “The library’s service focus is on excellence in teaching, lifelong learning, research and health sciences resources for our users.”

Seats for the gala are $100 and include the reception, dinner and presentations.  For more information on the symposium, click here.  For gala information, contact Charlene Blount at 202.238.2565.

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