IN THIS SECTION
Your generous donations to the Department’s development make it possible to fund many student awards, classroom renovations, and capital construction both on the Bloomington campus and on the campus of the IU Judson Mead Geologic Field Station in Montana.
IU Geologic Field Station Endowment Campaign 2007-2012
In July 2007 the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and the Judson Mead Geologic Field Station embarked on an ambitious $3 million fundraising campaign aimed at solidifying the future of the Field Station as the premier location for teaching geosciences in the field. The case was compelling, with two distinct but overlapping goals: create an endowment for the support of scholarships, course development and research, and also provide immediate funding for infrastructure improvements – namely the construction of a much-needed classroom building that could double as a conference/training space.
Led by Professor Emeritus Lee Suttner, this effort began with five dedicated Field Station alumni sitting around a table and each agreeing to pledge a lead gift of $50,000. Over time this circle of supporters expanded as we reconnected with others through professional circles and decades-old friendships, forged around shared experiences during summers in Montana. The tremendous momentum of the campaign culminated in the summer of 2012 with the dedication of a new classroom building on the field station campus during a reunion weekend attended by dozens of alumni, donors, friends, neighbors, and IU administrators.
The results of the first phase of the campaign are already being felt in Montana. The most obvious change is the completion of the new classroom, computer lab, and laboratory space within the new geotechnology building. This one building has already transformed both how and what we can teach in our traditional courses; the concentration options now have individual space for lectures, laboratory equipment use, and data analysis at levels previously not possible. The new building also opens up the possibility for teaching a whole range of courses at all levels, from K-12 to undergraduate and graduate to professional, with the additional possibility of professional meetings, workshops and retreats. The latter reflects that fact that we now have the capability to provide space, technology, and equipment for activities independent of our superb access to the surrounding geology. One example of how this building is affecting G429 is found in the ability of students electing to pursue the geophysical option to have not only access to the cutting edge technology of a LiDAR terrestrial laser scanning system, but also the resources to upload and process the data quickly and efficiently with the dual-screen workstations in the computer lab.
This ability continues the tradition of the Field Station to be recognized as a national leader in field education as evidenced by recent presentations at the GSA national meeting. Another direct result of the campaign has been the involvement of a number of companies supplying funds for scholarships and professionals to work with the students in the field. The increased scholarship funding has allowed us to continue to attract the best students in the nation and allowed a dramatic increase in the standards for admission to the courses. Additionally, several major oil companies and independent service companies have made use of these facilities for short courses with the expressed intent of expanded use in the future.
Continued Pursuit of Excellence
The success of the first phase of the campaign has left us well poised to pursue the next phase of fundraising for the field station. In anticipation of future facility enhancement, a master plan for the Field Station was created by the SmithGroup, the same architectural firm engaged by IU Bloomington for its master plan. Two key pieces of this plan involve the construction of new washhouses for the students and another housing unit for faculty and professional visitors. These two projects are critical for being able to move forward with the expanded use of the Field Station, which has been gaining momentum as a result of the first campaign.
We have successfully undertaken a partnership with faculty members from Penn State and the University of Georgia to offer a graduate course in stratigraphic paleobiology, a direct consequence of both the surrounding geology and the availability of the classroom and computer laboratory. We are actively developing other graduate level courses and professional short courses on such topics as snow melt hydrology, remote sensing, sedimentation and tectonics, and tectonic geomorphology. We also are working towards offering field experiences for high school teachers involved in STEM education to take advantage of the Willow Creek Instrumented Watershed.