A view of plans of the future Wright State archives center.

Wright State moves forward with new $6.5 million archives center

The finance committee of the WSU board of trustees unanimously approved a resolution today to spend $450,000 raised by the Wright State Foundation for phase I of the project. The resolution will now proceed to the full board of trustees for approval.

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With the Discover Your Story campaign, Wright State is seeking to transform the former corporate headquarters of the Wright-Patt Credit Union at 2455 Presidential Drive into the new home of the university’s Special Collections and Archives, according to the school.

Wright State’s archives contains the largest Wright Brothers Collection in the world, first-edition works by Dayton poet Paul Laurence Dunbar and the archives of the Dayton Daily News among other historic archives, according to WSU.

The new archives center will be solely funded by donations because of the university’s ongoing financial struggles, president Cheryl Schrader has said. Wright State trustees in June 2017 slashed more than $30.8 million from the school’s budget but that ended up not being enough and WSU ultimately reduced spending in FY 2018 by around $53 million total.

Though the university’s plans for a new archives center have been in the works for more than a year, some trustees today questioned the school’s plans to move the archives across the street.

Trustee Bruce Langos said that he would only vote in favor of the phase I resolution if the university developed an official space plan for its buildings. Graduate student trustee Austin Rains — a non-voting member of the board — asked whether the university looked at how other colleges handled and stored their archives.

The move has long been advocated by the university as a way to expand space and create a more publicly accessible location for the community to use Wright State’s archives.

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The proposed archives center will include the following amenities, according to the university:

  • A reading room where students, scholars and visitors may examine historic materials in an up-close and personal way.
  • An exhibit gallery housing rotating exhibitions that highlight the depth and breadth of Wright State’s collections.
  • A conference room for lectures, meetings and special events.
  • A classroom to welcome area school children and students from Wright State’s public history graduate program.
  • An oral history recording and teaching lab where students, faculty, researchers and the community can record their stories.
  • A media lab for listening and viewing oral histories and watching original film footage.
  • A preservation lab, processing room, clean room and exhibit prep room that will give staff the tools and space they need to adequately care for the history of the Dayton region.

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