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$7 Million Gift Advances Education and Research in Geological Sciences

A $7 million gift will help expand Michigan State University's Department of Geological Sciences, fostering better understanding of Earth's systems and resources.

The gift, from an anonymous donor who is a Michigan State graduate, aims to help build a program focused on excellence and leadership in Earth science. The gift will mainly go toward new professorships and graduate research fellowships as the department gathers momentum.

"Endowed professorships and endowed graduate fellowships are critical building blocks for excellence in every academic area," MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon said. "Comprehending the forces that shape our world, specifically water and energy resources, requires research leaders who also can carry that knowledge into the classroom. This gift enables us to attract rising stars in geological sciences who can make an immediate impact on our research and education."

The search for three early career faculty members for the new endowed professorships will likely begin in 2012. A portion of the gift leverages a scholarship matching fund provided by a previous anonymous donor to MSU and will endow graduate fellowship support for attracting the best and brightest graduate students.

"Graduate fellowships are a cornerstone of strong research programs and this funding allows us to recruit the most capable," said R. James Kirkpatrick, dean of the College of Natural Science. "The fellowships will provide funding for students to earn their degree while undertaking advanced research alongside leading faculty. Together, these professorships and fellows will significantly enhance MSU's Department of Geological Sciences."

Another portion of the gift completes funding for the Thomas Vogel Endowed Chair in Solid Earth. The chair was established in 2006 in honor of the retirement of longtime geology professor Thomas Vogel. Endowed chairs are the highest honor awarded to faculty.

The gift was directed specifically to the Department of Geological Science in the College of Natural Science. The college is the academic home to 4,900 undergraduate student majors and nearly 1,000 graduate students in physical, mathematical and biological sciences.