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WHOI Seeks to Raise $200 Million in Comprehensive Campaign

December 19, 2005

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has announced a $200-million comprehensive campaign to raise endowment and unrestricted operating funds to support staff and ongoing research and education activities.  The campaign is the largest the Institution has conducted, with nearly $133 million of the campaign goal committed to date.

“Depth of Leadership: A Campaign to Advance a New Scientific Agenda for Oceanography” quietly began in 2000. Campaign priorities include support for scientific staff, an access to the sea initiative to develop and implement a wide range of seagoing technologies and platforms, new research initiatives and projects in the Institution’s four Ocean Institutes, and ongoing important efforts not funded because of changing federal research directions.

The campaign also seeks gifts and grants that are not designated for a specific purpose that the Institution can use at its own discretion for unrestricted timely opportunities, such as studying an oil spill, flood research after a hurricane or severe storm, or responding to a major red tide outbreak.

“We are seeking sufficient funds to preserve the Institution’s competitiveness, flexibility, and leadership role,” WHOI President and Director Robert Gagosian said. “Increased endowment income will provide fiscal stability, allow the Institution to maintain its innovative and creative environment, help in recruiting and retaining our first rate staff, and preserve the Institution’s private status.  It will open new doors at the frontier. This is a very exciting opportunity.”

The campaign recently received a major boost with a $14.5-million bequest from the estate of Claudia S. Heyman, who died in November 2004. It is the second largest donation in the Institution’s history.

Heyman was a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma and was living in Boston when she died. She served on the board of her family enterprises and retained interests in several privately held oil and gas corporations.

Starting in 2006, four WHOI scientists will be chosen for annual fellowships to be named for Claudia Heyman. The Coastal Ocean Institute, Deep Ocean Exploration Institute, the Ocean and Climate Change Institute, and the Ocean Life Institute will each award one Heyman fellowship to a scientist based on his or her scientific leadership, ability to participate in interdisciplinary research, and public outreach and communication skills.

The Institution’s largest donation of the campaign, a $28-million anonymous gift received in 2001, was used to fund the establishment of the Institution’s four Ocean Institutes, which catalyze high-risk, high-reward research across traditional scientific disciplines.

“The Institution is in very good fiscal health, but the present funding climate in Washington means we must seek other sources of support. We can no longer rely on the federal government as the only patron of science in this country. We need the stability and flexibility that increased endowment and unrestricted financial support can provide,” Gagosian said.  “This campaign will provide important seed money for our investigators to pursue new projects, which in turn will increase the Institution’s competitiveness for both new government and private grants by leveraging those funds.”

WHOI is a private, independent marine research and engineering, and higher education organization located in Falmouth, MA. Its primary mission is to understand the oceans and their interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate a basic understanding of the ocean’s role in the changing global environment. Established in 1930 on a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences, the Institution has a staff of more than 1,000 and is organized into five departments, interdisciplinary institutes and a marine policy center, and conducts a joint graduate education program with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.