W. Wayne Booker

W. Wayne Booker

“An outstanding library is the backbone
of any great university.”
— W. Wayne Booker

In September 2005, W. Wayne Booker made a $2.5 million planned gift to Purdue Libraries to endow the nation’s first known chair in information literacy, thereby positioning Purdue University as a leader in the ever-expanding role information literacy plays in higher education.

Named the W. Wayne Booker Endowed Chair in Information Literacy, Booker’s gift established a bridge between the worlds of libraries and information technology at Purdue University. At the time of his gift, Booker said he wanted to provide students with the ability to become lifelong learners, and to see critical thinking and communication skills increased in the United States and abroad. Booker was a noted visionary who believed an outstanding library to be the backbone of any great university.

In 1994, he and his wife, Beverly, established the W. Wayne and Beverly E. Booker International Information Endowment Fund at Purdue University. Their gift, along with matching funds from Ford Motor Company, has been used to purchase materials for Purdue Libraries that help build cultural understanding from an international point of view. The fund is still helping to prepare students to become leaders in today’s changing world.

In addition to his gifts to Purdue Libraries, Booker took great pride in establishing corporate partnerships with Ford Motor Company in Purdue University’s College of Engineering and in the Krannert School of Management. He was instrumental in securing nearly $15.4 million in donations to Purdue from Ford over two decades. In the time since, Purdue has become one of Ford's biggest sources of college-educated employees.

A Sullivan, Indiana native, Booker graduated from Purdue University with a bachelor of science degree in economics in 1956. He contributed much of his success to the support he received from Purdue Libraries while in school. Truly ahead of his time, Booker’s multitude of gifts reflected his faith in Purdue’s educational leadership for the 21st century and have provided much-needed resources for today’s ever-evolving technological age.

During his more than 40 years as vice chairman of Ford Motor Company, Booker was a leader in establishing new international operations and joint ventures throughout the world, and he represented Ford at many international business associations. He served in Mexico, Brazil, Japan and England, and is credited with establishing Ford’s presence worldwide, particularly in Turkey and Asia.

Booker award

W. Wayne Booker (center) receives the Pinnacle Award, the University’s highest honor, presented by former Purdue President Martin C. Jischke (left) and former Dean of Libraries James L. Mullins (right), 2005.

Prior to retiring from Ford in 2001, Booker received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Purdue University in 2000. In 2005, Booker received the Pinnacle Award, the University’s highest honor.

Booker passed away on October 17, 2007 at his home in Barboursville, Virginia, at the age of 73. He is survived by a son, David Wayne Booker, BS ’82 (wife Monica, BSIE ’84); a daughter, Tara L. Kurtz (husband Dean); and three grandsons, Michael Booker, Alexander Kurtz, and Noah Kurtz. Representing the University at Booker’s memorial service, former Dean of Libraries James Mullins spoke about his priceless contributions to Purdue University.

The position of W. Wayne Booker Endowed Chair in Information Literacy is presently held by Dr. Clarence Maybee. Dr. Maybee is a Professor of Library Science at Purdue Libraries. His research centers on information literacy, information literacy pedagogy, and faculty development in higher education. Dr. Maybee holds a PhD in Library and Information Science from the Gateway PhD program offered by San Jose State University and Queensland University of Technology.