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University of Cincinnati Receives $20 Million Gift for Space Exploration

Gift reaches beyond the classroom and laboratory — and into outer space.

Date: 10/26/2007 12:00:00 AM
By: Christa Tutwiler
Other Contact: Mark Jorgensen
Other Contact Phone: (513) 556-3772
Photos By: Andrew Higley

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The University of Cincinnati’s numerous initiatives in space exploration research have been launched to even higher levels by an anonymous $20 million gift. The gift is the largest bequest in UC’s history by an individual.

President Zimpher
President Nancy Zimpher

This gift, the second major contribution announced by UC in ten days, will promote collaboration among the many specialties at UC, and will leverage UC’s existing research capabilities with substantial new funding. According to UC President Nancy Zimpher, “As a top 25 public research university, the University of Cincinnati has a long tradition of working at the forefront of new discovery, and this record-breaking gift allows us to build on that tradition as a center of excellence to explore the ‘final frontier’ - our universe. This investment is a tremendous acknowledgment of our role in space exploration and gives leverage to that role going forward.”

The bequest not only establishes the Thomas Jefferson Endowed Chair in Space Exploration and the Alan B. Shepard Endowed Chair in Space Exploration, but also has a substantial portion of its funds earmarked to create a Space Exploration Research Fund.

The Jefferson and Shepard chairs are not limited to any college or discipline, and will be selected based on competitive proposals from all UC programs with demonstrated expertise in research and teaching related to the exploration of outer space. Competition is expected to be fierce. Space exploration research expertise at UC extends throughout the university: from astrophysics and cosmology to aerospace engineering and from robotic surgery and telemedicine to geoinformatics, remote sensing and mapping.

Sandra Degen
Sandra Degen, Vice President for Research

The chairs will be awarded to those individuals who epitomize the passionate and investigative natures of their namesakes. The person chosen as the Thomas Jefferson Chair is expected to exemplify the passion for learning, knowledge and exploration evident in all of President Jefferson’s endeavors. The person selected for the Alan B. Shepard Chair is expected to exemplify the same dedication, courage, and perseverance that Alan B. Shepard demonstrated throughout his career.

The Space Exploration Research Fund will create a long-term program that encourages collaboration among disciplines and enhances UC’s research excellence in specialties related to the exploration of space. Through the fund, the pioneering program will also support educational programs and fellowships for students performing research in areas related to space exploration, establishing space exploration as a center of excellence at UC.

Spokespersons for the donor confirmed his immense gratitude for the opportunities and benefits provided by Ohio’s public education system.


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