Fairbanks couple gives $200,000 to UA museum

Posted: Wednesday, February 23, 2000

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A University of Alaska Museum employee and his wife have pledged $200,000 of their own money toward the museum expansion project.

Barry McWayne, the museum's coordinator of fine arts, and his flutist-professor wife, Dorli, describe themselves as not particularly rich. The money is a result of years of saving.

Nor are they especially philanthropic. They said they've never given away this much money before.

The couple's donation, announced Monday, inches the museum to within $3.2 million of its $15.5 million halfway point. Museum backers, who say they will need $31 million in all to make repairs and build a 41,000-square-foot addition, hope to collect the other half from the state.

The latest contribution comes shortly after retired philosophy professor Rudy Krejci bequeathed $20,000 to the University of Alaska Fairbanks music department.

Both Krejci and the McWaynes are long-standing Fairbanksans with lengthy records of service as university employees.

''Originally we wanted to make this gift anonymously so as not to make our lives more complex,'' said McWayne, a gregarious silver-haired man with a beard.

But the McWaynes, with a little prodding from museum director Aldona Jonaitis, decided making their donation public would encourage others to do the same.

''More people should and could think about kicking in for this,'' Barry McWayne said.

Jonaitis said McWayne, who has worked for the museum for 30 years, has put his ''heart and soul'' into the museum.

McWayne is determined not to retire until the new wing, expected to be finished in 2004, is built.

The couple's gift will fund a space in the art gallery where people will be able to mingle. Called ''The Living Room,'' the area will have sofas, overstuffed chairs and coffee tables.

''Ultra-formal presentation, especially in Alaska, is not always comforting. This will make art more accessible, we hope,'' Barry McWayne said.

The expansion project's largest donation, $1 million, came from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Jonaitis sent a request on a lark after the foundation's president visited the museum last summer.

ARAMARK Corp., which provides food service at UAF, has also donated a substantial sum--$175,000 in December.

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