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University of Minnesota Morris Announces First Named Professorship

Solar panels under a turbulent summer sky, with two wind turbines in the distance.
Allison Friedly
Publication date: 
May 3, 2021

The University of Minnesota Morris is proud to announce a new privately funded named professorship to assist in recruitment and retention of faculty at the University. The Morton Gneiss Professorship for Environmental Sciences will provide funding support for UMN Morris in recruiting, supporting, and retaining outstanding faculty members in the area of environmental sciences. Thanks to the generosity of private donors, this is the first named professorship at UMN Morris.

“Our interests are rooted in nature and outdoors. In recent years, we’ve become concerned about ecosystem interrelationships, climate change, and anthropologic extinctions,” said the alumnae donors. “What we can hope for by helping to hire an Environmental Sciences professor at UMN Morris is that some terribly brilliant person will make an innovation, or discover some complex relationship in nature, that meaningfully mitigates climate change, or helps humanity adapt to change.”

The named professorship is a means for UMN Morris to promote environmental science, a rigorous interdisciplinary education program that offers courses in natural resources, environmental issues and challenges, climate change, and applied environmental science. 

“This endowed professorship gives the person selected for the position the opportunity to lead one of the nation’s premier environmental science programs at a public liberal arts college, to lead new initiatives in curriculum development and research opportunities for the environmental science faculty and students, and to create partnerships with UMN Morris and its surrounding communities on projects related to the environment,” says Peh Ng, chair, Division of Science and Mathematics.

Morton Gneiss, the name selected for the professorship by the visionary donors, refers to the 4 billion-year-old bedrock below western Minnesota—an enduring foundation of earth and a symbol of permanence. This rock saw the creation of atmosphere, hydrosphere, and life and carries its own tectonic history. It teaches us to see beyond our own time and to survive continental collisions.  

The Morton Gneiss Professorship starts in the fall of 2023. The professorship is one of the highlights of UMN Morris's 'A model for living and learning campaign,' part of the U of M Driven. campaign.

Learn more about Environmental Science and how you can support the mission of UMN Morris.