DANVERS — The new $81 million Library and Learning Commons at Salem State University will be named for retiring state Senator Frederick E. Berry of Peabody.
Berry, the Democratic Senate majority leader, is retiring in January after 30 years representing the Second Essex District, which includes Beverly, Danvers, Peabody, Salem, and Topsfield. Patricia Meservey, Salem State president, made the announcement on Thursday, during a testimonial to Berry held at the Danversport Yacht Club.
Construction of the $73.5 million library is on schedule to open in the fall of 2013. By the end of this week, the building will be enclosed and interior work completed, a college spokeswoman said.
“There are many examples of how you have improved education,’’ Meservey said. “You have maintained access for many students by supporting the need for financial aid. You have expanded our educational programs in critical areas, such as nursing.”
She also noted Berry’s role in securing state funding in the late ’90s for Salem State to acquire a closed GTE/Sylvania light bulb factory, enabling the campus to expand. He also secured funding to build the new library, which is still under construction.
‘There are many examples of how you have improved education.’
“Understanding that students attending public institutions need the same qualities of facilities that private universities enjoy, you advocated for the resources to renovate our central campus and to build our beautiful library,” Meservey said.
The testimonial to Berry drew 600 people, including Governor Deval Patrick and Senate President Therese Murray. The event was a fund-raiser for Berry’s charitable foundation. An estimated $70,000 was raised to help food pantries in Berry’s district.