Why I give
In Why I give, we turn the spotlight on the University of Chicago Library’s supporters, exploring why they make the Library part of their philanthropic giving. We are grateful to Jenna E. Anderson, AB’07, MBA’14, for sitting down for an interview with Amber Cullen, Director of Development and Associate Dean of the Library.
Anderson is Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Analytics at W. W. Grainger, Inc. A finance leader and strategist, she has expertise in strategic financial planning, sales and pricing, and organizational design. She joined Grainger in June 2022 to lead the newly combined Treasury & Financial Services group and oversee the company’s end-to-end cash management and capital allocation. In May 2023, the University’s Board of Trustees invited Anderson to join the Library Council and serve as a volunteer advisor to Dean Torsten Reimer.
What impact did the Library have on your academic studies at UChicago?
During my third year as an undergraduate there was a survey about how we used University facilities and one question was: “How many times a week do you use the Library?” We all scoffed at the question because it was fundamentally flawed. We went to the Library every day—the differentiator was how many times per day. Regenstein was a nexus of student life on campus where you went for study groups, to scour the stacks for the source you needed, to socialize and sometimes (believe it or not) on a date. The Library was not just a source of knowledge and a place to build connections. It was a foundational part of my academic experience and my personal experience of the University.
Why do you believe it’s important for UChicago alumni to give to the University?
Philanthropic giving to the University is an investment in the future. A UChicago education is all about learning how to think, challenge, and question the world around us. By giving time expertise, and funding, I am helping to ensure that the next generation of scholars have the same opportunities for learning those skills that I did.
What motivated you to make the Library part of your philanthropy?
The Library was a core part of my experience at UChicago and it was, honestly, a no brainer to give back to a place that gave me so much. Also, as a donor, you get to see behind the scenes and delve into collections with librarians and curators.
What makes being involved at the Library exciting for you?
Humanity has never had access to information like we do today. It’s also never been easier to twist facts and create false narratives. Dean Reimer is making information literacy a core part of his agenda. It is essential for students and wider society to think critically about what is published online and generated through artificial intelligence platforms. The Library has an opportunity to play a role as both a trusted source of knowledge as well as a space to learn evidence-based approaches to analyzing information. I am excited that this is also linked to Dean Reimer’s emphasis on community engagement and interest in launching new partnerships with local schools and public libraries. Increasing accessibility to scholarship in new ways and being at the forefront of transforming lives on UChicago’s campus and around the South Side is one example of how visionary leadership and philanthropy together make an impact.