A gift of $1 million to the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point will endow another natural resources faculty position. Thanks to the continued generosity of a Peoria, Ill., couple, the Gerald and Helen Stephens Professorship in Wildlife will be created. It will support the work of an existing faculty position in the College of Natural Resources, enhancing one of the nation's premier wildlife management programs.
The Stephens have directed their gift to establish an endowment that will generate earnings to support wildlife research, outreach and related activities of an existing professor. This may include funding for research, related professional travel, graduate students and faculty-mentored projects involving undergraduate students.
Three years ago, the Stephens created an endowed chair with a $2 million gift in memory of their son, Doug, a standout wildlife student at UW-Stevens Point. He died unexpectedly less than a year after graduating in May 1991. That gift resulted in a new faculty position in wildlife and the formation of the Wisconsin Center for Wildlife. Their current gift addresses a growing priority for the university to support existing faculty.
"We are grateful and humbled by the Stephens' longstanding generosity to our campus," said UW-Stevens Point Chancellor Bernie Patterson. "This historic gift conveys an important message from our friends: We have incredibly talented faculty and staff at UW-Stevens Point, and we want and need to keep them here."
The inaugural appointment for the new professorship will be Jason Riddle, associate professor of Wildlife Ecology, who has served on the faculty since 2009. Riddle has received numerous CNR and campus awards for both scholarship and teaching. He is president of the state chapter of The Wildlife Society and adviser of the award-winning UW-Stevens Point student chapter of The Wildlife Society. Several of Riddle's students have won awards for their research.
"Mr. and Mrs. Stephens have shown once again how they feel about the quality of our program, our faculty and our students," said Christine Thomas, dean of the College of Natural Resources at UW-Stevens Point. "This gift will help enable an already high-achieving faculty member to make an even bigger impact on our students and his field of wildlife ecology."
The Stephens' gift is the latest major commitment to the university's "Then, Now, & Forever: We Are Point" capital campaign. Launched publicly last spring, its goal is $30 million by June 30, 2019. The campaign has now raised more than $19 million, including five endowments to support faculty positions.