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 — the largest ever made to Purdue Libraries in the University’s history — to endow the nation’s first known chair in information literacy, prominently positioning Purdue University nationally in the ever-expanding role information literacy plays in higher education.

Named the W. Wayne Booker Endowed Chair in Information Literacy, the gift established a way to bridge the worlds of libraries and information technology. At the time of his gift, Booker said he wanted to provide students with the ability to be 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, is used to purchase materials for the Purdue Libraries to help build cultural understanding from an international point of view. The fund is still helping to prepare students to become leaders in a 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 the last 20 years. In addition, over the past 10 years, Purdue has been one of Ford's biggest sources of college-educated employees. At the beginning of the decade, more than 1,000 Purdue University graduates worked at Ford.

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. Booker’s multitude of gifts reflected his faith in Purdue’s educational leadership for the 21st century and has provided a much-needed resource in today’s 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 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

Pictured is Dr. Wayne Booker receiving the Pinnacle Award in 2005, the University’s highest honor, by former Purdue President Martin C. Jischke and Libraries Dean James L. Mullins.

Prior to retiring from Ford in 2001, Booker received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Purdue, in 2000. And 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. 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, Dean Mullins spoke at the memorial service in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Dr. Booker’s many contributions to Purdue.

In June 2009, Dr. Sharon Weiner was appointed to the position of W. Wayne Booker Endowed Chair in Information Literacy. Weiner carries out the initiatives set forth in the endowed chair, being a national spokesperson who is working with educational, government, business, and health organizations to understand and promote the importance of information literacy.