Edward M. Warner and C.S.U.: An Inspirational Industry-Academic Collaboration

Title: Edward M. Warner and C.S.U.: An Inspirational Industry-Academic Collaboration
Author: Eric Erslev, Department of Geosciences, Colorado State University
Publication: The Outcrop, December 2005, p. 27

In these challenging times for Colorado higher education, Ed Warner has provided a model for alumni support. On September 29th, Ed’ s latest gift of $26 million was announced by Colorado State University president Larry Penley, who stated, “This historic gift signals a new era in private philanthropy at Colorado State University; investing in Colorado State supports the passion, entrepreneurship and educational leadership for our future. Ed Warner, through his extraordinary generosity and vision, has demonstrated the power of private giving to enhance the learning environment and the overall excellence of our university.”ED5

The success of Ed’s catalytic involvement in the exploration and development of Jonah Field in Wyoming has allowed him to become a leader in educational philanthropy. In the late 1990s, he returned to C.S.U. where he received his B.S. under the sharp eye of his “8 Dutch uncles,” as he referred to his professors. Ed said that

“My experiences at Colorado State University as an undergraduate set early on a sense in me that some day it would be my turn to mentor young people, to support science education, to support Colorado State.”

We embraced, no, needed, his willingness to help, due to decreased funding for higher education. When he heard that we needed graduate student support, he funded both teaching and research assistantships. Far from a passive observer, he offered seminars where he laid out the data and asked the students to piece together the puzzle. By 2000, we invited him to join our departmental field trip, and ever since he has enriched these trips by using his endless store of experiences to mentor our undergraduates, graduate students and faculty while providing funding for an accompanying raft trip.

His financial generosity to C.S.U. has been continuous. After funding the graduate assistantships, he provided the hardware for a spatial analysis lab to run 3D seismic software. Then, in 2001, he pledged $4 million for two chaired professorships in geophysics and economic geology. This has allowed the Department of Geosciences to grow while many other programs within the university were cut back.

Ed’s latest gift, to be implemented incrementally over the next decade or so, will fund Ed’s twin passions – the geosciences and community-based conservation. Additional funding for the geosciences gives us the opportunity to react to disciplinary changes and opportunities. But the gift is mostly targeted toward applying Aldo Leopold’s grass-roots, community-based conservation concepts by establishing a new center for collaborative conservation. This is an area of long involvement for Ed through his work with the Sand County Foundation and outreach to projects in eastern Africa. His total pledge of $30 million is the largest donation in Colorado State University history, and we hope it will set the pace for additional collaborations between alumni, industry and academia throughout the west.

Photo by William A. Cotton, © University Relations, Colorado State University.