Alumna's $1-million gift will create a new research chair in geology
src="http://s7.addthis.com/static/btn/v2/lg-share-en.gif" width="125" height="16"
alt="Bookmark and Share" style="border:0"/>
Susan Cunningham understands the importance of geological studies for our planet's future. She wants to help McMaster prepare the next generation of experts who will address climate and environmental issues and lead resource exploration in a responsible and sustainable manner.
At an event on campus yesterday, the senior vice-president, exploration for Noble Energy in Houston announced a $1-million personal gift to establish The Cunningham Chair in Geology within McMaster's Faculty of Science. Among other responsibilities, the chairholder will lead relevant research in sedimentary geology and help build the program by attracting top notch students and faculty.
"Today it is more important than ever to educate people about geology," Cunningham said. "Whether it's oil or gas exploration, mineral and other natural resources, climate issues, or protecting and reclaiming the environment, we need to understand the earth's composition and history and the impact that man is having on the planet."
She adds that the reverse side of the issue - the impact that geological and climate changes have on humans - is equally compelling and further supports the importance of geological research.
McMaster's School of Geography and Earth Sciences offers intriguing courses and research initiatives in the areas of environmental geology/hydrologic sciences and exploration geology/geophysics. The work of the new chair will complement these offerings and help bring geological scholarship and research to a new level.
Cunningham hopes the creation of the new chair will also encourage opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration and discussion on topics that are of vital concern to everyone.
"McMaster is very proud of its accomplishments in geology," said President Patrick Deane, "and thanks to this gift we can look forward to a future of enhanced academic strength and innovation."
"Susan's generous donation will go a long way toward enhancing McMaster's authority in the areas of applied geology and geochemistry through the establishment of this new chair," said John Capone, dean of the Faculty of Science. "We are grateful to her both for her financial support and for her passionate commitment to geological education and to McMaster."
Cunningham graduated from McMaster in 1979 and credits her exceptional professors with preparing her for what has been a rewarding and highly successful career in the oil exploration industry. Although currently based in Texas, when it came time to make a significant donation, she said, "My roots are Canadian and I wanted to give back to the institution that gave me my start."