Margaret A. Cargill Foundation Makes $383,000 Gift to Create Environmental Studies Endowment at Guilford College
A gift of $383,612 from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation is creating an endowment for the environmental studies program at Guilford College.
The endowment is a key pillar in reinforcing environmental studies as one of the College’s fastest growing majors and a priority academic program, said Kyle Dell, associate professor of political science and co-coordinator of the environmental studies program. The program has grown from eight student majors in 2003 to almost 80 this fall.
The gift was made earlier to the college’s Advancing Excellence Campaign, which is in its public phase and has raised over $45 million toward a $60 million goal to support the College endowment, facilities and annual operating expenses.
“The endowment will provide the support for students seeking to study abroad in a program focused on environmental studies as well as for students seeking to conduct original research related to environmental problem-solving,” he said.
In the past three years, an earlier $50,000 grant from the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation has supported five students engaged in experiential learning. Three environmental studies majors were able to attend environmental study abroad programs through the School for Field Studies. This year, two others will attend the EcoQuest program in New Zealand where they will examine a range of environmental problems and solutions particular to the island nation, such as the threat to ecosystems from invasive species.
“With the help of the MAC Foundation’s grant, we look forward to sending students abroad each year to gain a better understanding of the global scope of today’s most pressing environmental challenges,” Dell said. “One of the best elements of the scholarship program coming from the endowment though is that students returning from study abroad are required to intern for a semester with a local environmental organization in the Piedmont. This element provides a way for students to apply their newly acquired knowledge, skills and values to problems in our local communities.”
The endowment will also support the Guilford College Environmental Studies Forum, an annual event that brings together students from a variety of disciplines to share final research projects from across the program. From scientific research to environmental documentary films, the forum is an important community event that demonstrates how Guilford College is educating generations of graduates intent on addressing our greatest environmental challenges.
Earnings from the endowment will provide unrestricted support to the environmental studies program in addition to their annual budget. The Academic Dean along with the head of the environmental sciences department will administer the funds available each year.
Margaret A. Cargill, who died in 2006, was the granddaughter of William Cargill, who co-founded Cargill Inc., one of the world’s largest agribusiness companies. When fully operational, the foundation will have programs focused on the environment; disaster-related relief, recovery and development; arts and cultures; aging services; animal welfare; health; and services to children and families. The program areas specifically reflect Ms. Cargill’s personal interests and the guidance she provided to foundation leadership.
Guilford’s environmental studies program emphasizes the relationship between humans and the environment. It allows students to study and address the quality of the Earth’s environment and the sustainable use of its natural resources. The program’s focus on justice, global awareness, service to the greater community and sanctity of nature are in keeping with the college’s five academic principles and its Quaker heritage.
The environmental studies major is unique in the level of interdisciplinary course offerings, and involves faculty from many diverse academic fields of study. Faculty are involved in a variety of public issues, including social and environmental justice topics, studies of water quality and aquatic ecosystems in Greensboro, environmental advisory work for the Guilford County Board of Commissioners and global climate change issues.