Holocaust Center closed

Room 201 in Founder’s Hall was crowded over the summer. It was stuffed with more than 600 books on the Holocaust, 100 films and dozens of educational CDs and lesson plans. It was also free to the public, and Kentucky’s only Holocaust Education Resource Center. At the very least it was a dream of Dr. Nancy Kersell, NKU business writing teacher and an expert in the history of the Holocaust.

The Holocaust Education Resource Center was comprised of the personal collection of Dr. Kersell, gathered over ten years from all over the world. The center was opened in January, and in June, Kersell was asked to move her collection to Steely Library where it was to be dispersed and put on display.

Kersell’s vision didn’t include dispersing her collection, so the Holocaust Center has been removed from campus. Kersell is currently trying to find space on campus to re-open the center, along with trying to find the funding for it.

Gail Wells, vice president of academic affairs and provost said that NKU was always “very supportive of Ms. Kersell’s work.” Wells said that Kersell was told from the beginning that she was going to have to move, but that the location was unknown. “We told her there was going to be renovation, (that we were) waiting for renovation money,” she said. “We certainly didn’t want her to take her material away.”

Kersell admits that she was told that there was going to be renovation in the building and that the space was temporary, but said she was not given a timeline. “That could have been four or five years away,” she said. “No one actually officially notified me.”

Wells said that NKU was thrilled to be able to offer Kersell space in the library for her collection, and felt that it was a great opportunity for Kersell. “It’s not exactly how (Kersell) would like it, but it’s really a very prestigious opportunity to have a collection in the library,” she said.

Kersell isn’t quite as thrilled with the prospect of putting her collection in the library. Kersell’s collection is something that she feels is meant to be handled and looked at-not closed up in glass cases. “The center was designed to be a hub, a focal point,” she said. When students came to the center to see her collection, they checked many of her books out. “Just from those five months I had a huge stack of check out slips,” Kersell said. “When I started (the center) I had no idea it would be so successful…I mean, who knew?”

Wells still believes there are many pros to putting Kersell’s collection in the library- aside from the opportunity it would provide Kersell. “The library has a great deal of room,” she said. “(Founder’s Hall room 201) was too small and crowded for groups, and (Kersell) required staff members that we didn’t have. The library does and they are trained.”

Phillip Schmidt, dean of the college of arts and sciences agrees that the university has strongly supported Kersell’s work, and that Kersell herself knew that the space in Founder’s Hall was only temporary.

“She was granted temporary space by the department chair of the literature and language department,” he said.

“She knew.”

Schmidt said that the university reassigned time for Kersell, giving her a reduction in her teaching assignments.

Full-time faculty is required to teach four classes per semester, but Kersell’s load was lighter-she taught three classes.

Her salary stayed the same because, “She was doing something that we were supporting,” Schmidt said. “Space on campus is incredibly tight. I thought the library was a natural situation.”

Wells and Schmidt both hope to see the situation resolved. “We’re trying to work it out with her,” Wells said.

“We support her work. It’s an important area for our students to study, and it would honor her by having it permanently in the library.”

Schmidt said “I have commended her all along (and) hoped that we could still continue to support it.”

“I’m just upset because I can’t do something that I feel is worthwhile,” Kersell said.