LAS department receives seven-figure donation from University alumni

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LAS department receives seven-figure donation from University alumni

Geography & GIS major graduate students created posters of their research and presented them in the halls of the Natural Science Building.

Geography & GIS major graduate students created posters of their research and presented them in the halls of the Natural Science Building.

Jeanette Yan

Geography & GIS major graduate students created posters of their research and presented them in the halls of the Natural Science Building.

Jeanette Yan

Jeanette Yan

Geography & GIS major graduate students created posters of their research and presented them in the halls of the Natural Science Building.

By Madalyn Velisaris, Staff Writer

The Department of Geography and Geographic Information Sciences received a seven-figure donation from alumni Candace Penn Frame and James Frame, though the exact amount has not been disclosed.

Shaowen Wang, department head of Geography and Geographic Information Science, said the donation, announced to the public on August 31, is the largest the department has ever received.

Wang said the donors want the department to use the endowment for enhancing faculty excellence, supporting graduate fellowships, nurturing young scholars, and enriching learning and research experiences of students, in a follow-up email.

“This is going to be very impactful,” Wang said. “That would help boost the visibility of our department, attracting many experts of the field to be on our faculty.”

Wang said the gift will also help the department attract top diverse graduate students into the program.

Additionally, the money will go to scholarships and travel support for undergraduate students as well as expanding the amount of research both undergraduate and graduate students can do, Wang said.

“We want to maximize the impact of the gift. Of course, we want to follow the guidelines of the donors because we have very extensive discussions about the movement of the department and the donors are very generous,” Wang said.

Wang said the graduate fellowship program will change the most because the donors want to make sure future generations are prepared to enter the workforce. The Frames particularly want the money to go towards digital mapping and the Geographic Information Science Program.

Sara McLafferty, professor in LAS, said professors and students in the department are excited about the endowment. Especially since a part of the gift will be used for a professorship program because there are currently no endowed professorships in the department, she said.

“One student mentioned it (the gift) to me yesterday and was just very excited,” McLafferty said. “But she was very excited about the fact that some of it would go to student support.”

McLafferty said the department currently relies more heavily on outside support, such as alumni donations, due to budget cuts.

“I just want to say those connections between previous students from decades ago and our present-day students are incredibly important and even go beyond the financial gift,” she said.

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