Jim and Ann Milano, formerly of Monongalia County, have pledged $500,000 to benefit the Charles C. Wise, Jr. Library at West Virginia University.
The gift is two-fold: Half will be used to renovate the library’s East Reading Room. The remaining $250,000 will create the James V. and Ann Pozega Milano Reading Room and Collection Endowment Fund. The endowment will maintain and replace the furnishings in the room, which will be named for the Milanos, and support the acquisition and preservation of the Appalachian Collection, to be housed in the Milano Reading Room.
“We owe our beginnings to WVU . We made this gift because we wanted to give something back to the University,”said Jim Milano.
Frances O’Brien, dean of the WVU Libraries, said,”Today’s students and scholars are seeking quiet spaces for thought as well as seeking the newest technology. This reading room will provide the atmosphere for a researcher to apply imagination and energy to today’s problems, as well as appreciating some of the culture of the past. I’m grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Milano for making this possible.”
Morgantown natives (he is from Riverside and she is from Scotts Run), the Milanos are graduates of University High School, but recall that they knew each other only”casually”while there. Both opted to attend WVU Jim to study chemistry; Ann to focus on home economics. It was at WVU that their paths converged forever.
Jim Milano recalled frequenting the Wise Library meeting room as there was no desk in his dorm room and it was the best place to study. He had noticed Ann there several times before, and finally worked up enough nerve to ask her to go to a movie at the Metropolitan Theatre. Mondays were 25-cent movie nights.
It was the beginning of a relationship that has lasted more than 60 years. And that is why this gift is important to them, they claim, because the reading room being renovated is the very same room in which the couple met.
“We both spent many hours in the library. It was our second home during our college years,”Jim Milano noted.
After graduating from WVU in 1940, Jim spent 22 years in the United States Army and earned a master’s in business administration from the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, and a doctorate in business administration from The George Washington University. He retired from the Army with the rank of colonel and went to work for Pfizer Corp.
Ann graduated from WVU in 1941 and taught in the public school system. The couple married in 1945. She left teaching to raise their four children, Mary, Barbara, Kathryn and James. Jim retired from Pfizer as a vice president in 1985. They reside in Winchester, Va.
The endowment was created through the WVU Foundation in conjunction with Building Greatness, Campaign: West Virginia University , a $250 million fundraising effort it is conducting on behalf of the University. The Foundation, a private non-profit organization, is the designated agency to receive and administer gifts from private individuals and organizations for the benefit of WVU and its affiliated organizations.