FORT COLLINS, Colo., Feb. 2, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Colorado State University (CSU) is pleased to announce the establishment of a University Endowed Chair in Wetlands and Waterfowl Conservation in the Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology. Created through a $3.1 million gift from James C. Kennedy, the program will enable CSU to build on its legacy of excellence in wildlife research and education, as well as enhance waterfowl habitats throughout the region.
Kennedy has a strong connection to Colorado and CSU. Early in his career he lived in Grand Junction, where he served as chairman of the Colorado Division of Wildlife Commission and was awarded Sportsman of the Year. One of his sons is a CSU graduate.
"Colorado is a paradise for anyone who loves the outdoors and for those interested in the preservation of waterfowl habitat," said Kennedy. "When I lived there I noticed that many of the wildlife professionals came from CSU. The goal of this gift is to provide opportunities for students and future conservationists. Education is an extremely important tool in managing and conserving Colorado's natural resources."
A nationwide search will begin soon to attract a prominent national leader in the field to CSU in the upcoming academic year. The program will debut in the 2016-17 academic year. The new program will include research, teaching and outreach by the chair and support for undergraduate and graduate students as well as postdoctoral fellows.
"This transformational gift is an incredible show of support from Mr. Kennedy. His investment in our program will enable us to build on our strengths in wildlife ecology and wetland ecosystems with an enhanced focus on health, management, and conservation of waterfowl and their habitats. We can't thank him enough," said John Hayes, dean of the Warner College of Natural Resources.
The comprehensive program will be the first of its kind in the Central Flyway, which stretches from the northernmost parts of Canada, through the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains and throughout Central America. In filling this critical regional gap, the CSU program will join a group of similar endowed chairs located at universities in other migration corridors around the country.
"Mr. Kennedy's willingness to entrust us with such an incredible opportunity is humbling, and is much appreciated," added Ken Wilson, chair of the Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology Department. "It will allow our department to build on our strengths in fish, wildlife and conservation education by attracting the future leaders in waterfowl and wetland conservation."
The program will make significant strides in addressing critical issues affecting waterfowl and wetlands, including impacts related to water quality and scarcity, and how population growth and urban development influence waterfowl.
"This tremendous gift from Jim Kennedy helps us ensure sustained and positive impact in wetlands and waterfowl conservation. We are so thankful for their partnership," said Brett Anderson, vice president of University Advancement.
In addition, the new program will bolster CSU's partnerships with government entities and conservations organizations.
"We are excited about the vision of recruiting a national leader in waterfowl and wetland conservation to develop a robust research program in the Central Flyway," said Noreen Walsh, regional director of the Mountain-Prairie Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Kennedy previously endowed a chair in Wildlife Management at CSU's Warner College of Natural Resources. He is an avid outdoorsman and is frequently recognized for his commitment to sustainability and conservation. Kennedy serves as chairman of Cox Enterprises, a leading communications, media and automotive services company.