McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Family funds reading pavilion in tribute to parents

Published: April 20, 2007
Jan and Mien Heersink
Jan and Mien Heersink

A family of four brothers has donated $1.3 million to the Health Sciences Library at McMaster University, in tribute to their parents who were known for opening their home to scores of Dutch immigrants settling in the area.

A ceremony to officially open and dedicate the Jan and Mien Heersink Reading Pavilion at the library in the Health Sciences Centre will be held on Friday beginning at 4:30 p.m.

The donation came from the four Heersink sons: Marnix of Alabama; Ben, of Massachusetts; John, of Dundas; and Ewout of Oakville, all of whom are attending the dedication along with their families.

They chose the pavilion for the dedication to their parents as it is designed to promote the kind of interactive, social and nurturing environment in the library that the Heersinks provided in their home.

Jan and Mien Heersink both grew up on farms in the Netherlands before emigrating to Canada in 1951. Jan Heersink worked for the Dutch Reformed Church and in the banking industry, helping Dutch immigrants settle in this country. In 1956, he was appointed as Dutch Vice Consul in Burlington, and for many years the couple welcomed countless Dutch families to their home, providing a warm hospitality. Jan Heersink died in 1983, and his wife passed away 20 years later.

The Jan and Mien Heersink Reading Pavilion is a two-storey, glass-walled addition to the Health Sciences Library, and part of $8.6 million in renovations recently completed.
Its expanse is an integral facet of the library’s new atmosphere that encourages collaboration and social interaction as important parts of the learning process.

"The Jan and Mien Heersink Reading Pavilion is a jewel in the renovation of the Health Sciences Library," said John Kelton, dean and vice-president of the Faculty of Health Sciences. "The new room, which has the best views on campus, exemplifies the intention of the library transformation to provide our students, faculty and staff with spaces to reflect and study and to collaborate with their colleagues."

The redesign of the Health Sciences Library has focused on creating more "people space" with expanded group learning and quiet study areas. Elegant design elements, art work and enhanced lighting create a welcoming ambience and make the library a focal point for the Faculty of Health Sciences, the University and the local health care community.

A grand opening of the renovated library is planned for May 23.

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