In 2002, the library was named in honor of Penn State Erie, The Behrend College's former Provost and Dean. Dr. John M. Lilley served the campus from 1980 until 2001. Under his leadership, college enrollment more than doubled as did the number of faculty. Lilley raised approximately $65 million for college endowments and physical facilities. He helped to secure funding for Knowledge Park at Penn State Erie and for a $30 million Research and Economic Development Center. He created a nationally prominent manufacturing outreach program and thirteen research centers for regional economic development. Dr. Lilley was a strong supporter of the college library.