“A transformational gift”: Bill and Yvonne Hyde donate $2.2 million to English department and Murphy Library


Yvonne Hyde working in Murphy Library in 1995. Retrieved from Murphy Library’s The Fine Print Blog.

Liberti Jonas-Jongebloed, General Assignment Reporter

Chancellor Joe Gow announced on Wednesday, Jan. 19, that the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse recently received the largest donation in the institution’s history.  

Gow announced that the $2.2 million donations from Bill and Yvonne Hyde were set aside for the English department and Murphy Library following the couple’s passing. Bill Hyde taught in the English department from 1956 to 1992 and Yvonne worked in Murphy Library from 1957 to 1995. The couple contributed $1.1 million to the English department and $1.1 million to Murphy Library.  

Although decisions are still being made regarding how UWL will use this donation, the Dean of UWL’s College of Arts, Social Sciences & Humanities Karl Kunkel said, “The proceeds from the Bill and Yvonne Hyde endowment create a perpetual annual resource for the Department of English to use that tremendously enhances and benefits both faculty and student development.”  

Kunkel said, “This gift is truly transformational for the programs in English and will take the very good current work in that department to the next level of excellence. I personally very much appreciate the generosity of the Hydes and am both awed and humbled by their strong and enduring commitment to both UWL and the English department in particular.”  

The director of Murphy Library John Jax said, “The amount [$1.1 million] opens the door to doing so much more above and beyond what our very strained regular budget can provide. While we are still processing how to spend the Hyde’s gift, we want to help support student success on this campus.” 

According to Jax, the funds will go towards “things like improving our interior spaces, providing new resource collections, upgrading technology, purchasing specialized equipment, developing new services, funding staff professional development, developing innovative event programming, and other things that the UWL campus and local community will greatly benefit from.”

A photograph of late English professor Bill Hyde.
Bill Hyde. Retrieved from UWL’s alumni magazine The Lantern.

Jax said, “When Murphy Library first learned that the Hydes would be gifting their estate, we were quite excited. However, we had no idea about how truly extraordinary the total gift amount would be.”

Jax also discussed his relationship with the Hydes. “Interestingly enough my father attended UWL during the late 1950s. Somehow, he got a job in the library [and] ended up working for Yvonne as a student employee,” said Jax. “Yvonne had recently started her position as well and really treated all student workers with much care and respect. While my dad just wanted a job, he grew to really enjoy working in the library. She even talked him into taking one of her husband’s English literature courses.”

Jax said the Hydes had an effect on his life. “Because of my father’s great experience working for Yvonne in the library, he went on to pursue a graduate degree in library and information studies.  He ended up being the library director at UW-Stout and worked there for 44 years,” said Jax. “I would also say all of this influenced me to pursue a similar career choice and become a librarian.”  

Though there have been many donations in the history of UWL, Vice Chancellor for Advancement and President of the UWL Foundation Greg Reichert said, “In the history of UWL, few people have been as generous, supportive, and impactful as Bill and Yvonne Hyde. This endowment is a transformational gift for our English department and Murphy Library, as well as a reminder of Bill and Yvonne’s unwavering commitment to our university and our students.”