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$20M Gift Adds Staff to Study Climate Change

Duke University Marine Lab on Pivers Island in Beaufort. Photo: Duke University Marine Lab

Duke University has received a $20 million gift to bolster the Nicholas School of the Environment’s faculty to address climate change and other critical environmental issues.

President Vincent E. Price announced Monday that the gift came from the Grainger Family Descendants Fund at the recommendation of an anonymous 1979 Duke graduate who serves as an advisor to the fund and will support new professorships at the Nicholas School. The Duke University Marine Lab in Beaufort is a unit of the Nicholas School.

“We are so very grateful to the Grainger Family Descendants Fund for this extraordinary gift, which will support Duke’s leadership in understanding and protecting our environment,” Price said. “These professorships will transform environmental research and education at Duke and will help advance our efforts to find adaptive and resilient responses to climate change — a vitally important priority for our university and the world.”

Toddi Steelman, Stanback Dean of the Nicholas School, said the gift is coming at a pivotal moment.

“We are enormously grateful to the Grainger family for their vision and trust in us. This gift will enable the Nicholas School to capitalize on our existing strengths in environmental research and concentrate our attention on the preeminent threat of our time: climate change. These positions will allow us to amplify our voice while embracing the moral imperative that we face on this planet,” Steelman said.

Previous gifts by the Grainger Family Descendants Fund to the Nicholas School have supported financial aid and fellowships; faculty research; a program in natural resource finance; repairs to the Duke University Marine Lab in Beaufort following Hurricane Florence; capital improvements to Duke’s campuses in Durham and Beaufort; and construction and operation of the Duke Marine Lab’s new vessel, the R/V Shearwater.

The Grainger Fund has also endowed three new professorships and supported the work of faculty and students at the Juli Plant Grainger River Science Center in Durham and the Orrin Pilkey Research Laboratory in Beaufort.

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Staff Report

The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.