New Ocean Institutes are Focus of Capital Campaign


The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution launched a new initiative in the year 2000, establishing four “Ocean Institutes” that will focus on critical ocean-related issues that have substantial impact on society.

According to Director and President Bob Gagosian, “The Ocean Institutes’ mission is to bridge the gap between having information about the ocean and making it available and useful to those who can best utilize it—to save lives, enhance our quality of life, stimulate economic growth, and educate the public on the importance of the oceans for the world’s future.
“The Institutes will bring together the best minds, combining the various scientific disciplines as appropriate to answer important questions about our planet’s future.”

Both endowment and current funding for the Ocean Institutes are the focus of the campaign. A recent anonymous $28 million gift inspired by the Ocean Institute concept set a new standard for Institution private support. Eight leadership gifts over $1 million each have also been received. In addition, a Henry Luce Foundation grant targeted to “Strengthening the Connection Between Oceanographic Science and Public Policy” will support activities designed to integrate the work of scientists and policy makers. These outstanding gifts, which will be detailed in WHOI’s next Report to Donors, provide a firm foundation for the important activities of these new endeavors. During the Ocean Institutes’ first year, four Senior Scientists were named Institute Directors, and advisory committees were appointed along with three to four research fellows each for the Coastal Ocean Institute (directed by Ken Brink), the Deep Ocean Exploration Institute (Susan Humphris), the Ocean and Climate Change Institute (Bill Curry), and the Ocean Life Institute (Larry Madin). The research fellows were selected from applications submitted by members of the WHOI scientific and senior technical staffs based on scientific leadership, interest in interdisciplinary research, and willingness to communicate the importance of Institute-sponsored research to the public and policy makers.
In addition, 24 research proposals were funded with subjects ranging from groundwater discharge into estuaries and seafloor systems for monitoring earthquakes to studies of propulsion and swimming energetics in cod larvae and a new technique for extracting historic sea surface temperature data from corals.

Funds raised in the early “quiet” period of the campaign total $56 million. Campaign literature produced to date includes two booklets featuring large photographs called “Perhaps our planet should be called Ocean” and “Exploring Planet Ocean.” Four issues of Oceanus magazine, each featuring one of the Institutes, are in preparation.