Dempsey Foundation Funds Environmental Chair at Willamette

The Dempsey Foundation has endowed The Dempsey Chair in Environmental Policy and Politics at Willamette University.

The $1.5 million endowment will support an endowed chair in the Environmental and Earth Sciences Department in the College of Liberal Arts (CLA.) The endowed chair furthers Willamette's commitment to interdisciplinary and collaborative teaching and research in environmental science. The chair holder will also coordinate the nationally recognized Dempsey Environmental Lecture Series with a focus on environmental concerns such as forest management, sustainability and conservation.

The first occupant of the Dempsey Chair will be Professor Joe Bowersox, who has taught politics at Willamette University since 1993 and who has served as chair of the University's Sustainability Council since 2004. He published work has focused on forest management and environmental politics.

Willamette University has 17 endowed chairs: 10 in CLA, two in the College of Law, four in the Atkinson Graduate School of Management and one chair that rotates among the three schools. Endowed chairs, awarded to faculty members who exemplify the highest standards of scholarship, offer financial assistance with publication, collaborative research and programmatic enhancements.

Willamette University President M. Lee Pelton said, "The timing of this gift is particularly meaningful. Willamette is now part of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, a pledge to broaden our pedagogy to involve students and faculty in the challenges of climate change and its influence on global ecological and social systems.

"Additionally, Willamette was recently recognized for our commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility in the construction and design of Kaneko Commons. The residence hall is currently being considered for a LEED Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating of silver or gold with its energy saving systems, lighting, water recovery and sustainable building materials. With these efforts in mind, we believe the Dempsey Chair in Environmental Policy and Politics is the perfect match for Willamette University."

The Dempsey Foundation will provide a gift of $500,000 to be added to an earlier gift of $1 million, which in 2004 created the Dempsey Environmental Science Fund.

Heather K. Dempsey graduated from the Environmental and Earth Sciences Department at Willamette University in 1997 and has been a University Trustee since 2004. She presented the gift on behalf of the Dempsey Foundation at the May 12 Board of Trustee meeting.