It was his mother’s and stepfather’s never-ending support and continued belief in him at each step of his educational experience that helped Dr. Fred W. Roper (A.B. ’60 and M.S.L.S. ’62) choose librarianship as his profession. And spending much of his work life in medical librarianship led him down a career path that combined his specialty with high-level administration.
Roper is a distinguished alumnus of UNC’s School of Information and Library Science (SILS) and the distinguished dean emeritus of the University of South Carolina’s School of Library and Information Science where he served as dean for 17 years.
Even as a busy dean handling myriad administrative tasks, Roper still found time to teach medical librarianship, write a textbook about medical librarianship—“Introduction to Reference Sources in the Health Sciences” now in its sixth edition—and serve as president of the Medical Library Association.
He credits UNC and SILS with giving him a stellar education and opportunities to expand in ways that he never imagined.
“The University of North Carolina’s library science program provided me with so many possibilities,” Roper said. “I could never give back to UNC what it has given to me, not only professionally, but [also] personally. My love of Tar Heel sports is well known by all my friends and colleagues.” He frequently travels from South Carolina to Chapel Hill to football and basketball games.
To honor the memory of his mother and stepfather for their belief in him and the longstanding support they provided, and to acknowledge the educational experience he received at SILS, Roper has established the Mary Alice and George Jones Fund. Through this generous estate gift, he will provide support for the school's medical librarianship and health informatics programs.
“We are grateful for the bequest Fred has provided to SILS that honors his mother and step-father,” said Gary Marchionini, SILS dean and Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor. “With this thoughtful and generous gift, we will be able to offer fellowships, scholarships, internships, stipends, travel, equipment and research funding to outstanding students and our award-winning faculty. This gift will offer opportunities that students in particular may not have had previously. It is clear that medical librarianship, bioinformatics and health informatics are rising fields that will only grow larger.”
Throughout his years at SILS as a student and later as a faculty member and administrator, and even after he became dean at USC, Roper has been a loyal and generous friend, giving of his time, talents and energy to contribute to the school’s ongoing efforts. In addition to participating in many activities offered through the school, he has served for several years on the SILS Board of Visitors and was recently appointed to the UNC Board of Visitors. He served as co-chair of SILS’s 80th Anniversary Planning Committee along with Sarah Snow (M.S.I.S. ’04). Roper is also celebrating a significant anniversary—his 50th as a graduate of SILS.
“When members of the planning committee were discussing possible presenters who understood the history of SILS and could tell our story for the kick-off of our 80th anniversary, Fred Roper immediately came to mind,” Marchionini said. “We are so fortunate to have such a dedicated leader and knowledgeable alumnus and friend who continues to demonstrate his devotion to the school. We wish him a happy 50th anniversary and thank him for all he does for SILS and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.”