Sep 10, 2013
Southern Connecticut State University Gets $3 Million to Aid Marine Studies
With its sights set on educating Connecticut’s workforce, Southern Connecticut State University announced a $3 million donation to the university Monday to facilitate coastal and marine studies.
The donation from the Werth Family Foundation is the largest donation in the university’s 120-year history, and the first donation of more than $1 million. The money will be used to create and sustain a Werth Center for Coastal and Marine Studies at the university and to fund two pilot research programs.
The Werth Family Foundation, founded by Peter and Pam Werth in 2000, has contributed more than $375,000 to the university’s Center for Coastal and Marine Studies since 2006. The couple also founded ChemWerth, a global company based in Bridgeport that focuses on development of generic pharmaceuticals.
“They live in the shadow of Southern, they employ our students, they have a very strong commitment to education and to the wellbeing of the community; they’re incredible partners, incredible friends,” said SCSU President Mary Papazian.
The donation, which will be paid over the course of 10 years, will be divided into three parts. From the money, $1.5 million will be used for the Werth Center for Coastal and Marine Studies, $750,000 will be used for annual expenses of the center and the remainder will support the Industry Academic Fellowship Program and Southern Summer Science Business Institute program. About 60 students have graduated from the coastal program, Papazian said.
“We’ve been extremely pleased with the work, the graduation rate for the kids that go into the program,” Peter Werth said.
The Industry Academic Fellowship Program, slated to begin this summer, aims to help undergraduates and graduates at Southern with their professional development. Students will be exposed to science teachers from Greater New Haven middle and high schools, university faculty and mentors. The Southern Summer Science Business Institute aims to strengthen business skills among students majoring in science, technology, engineering and math. Students will receive a $5,000 stipend for this program and will be exposed to seminars and internships in the area.
Werth said the decision to make the donation comes at a time when state funding for universities is down.
“To build these programs you really need a private sector to fund it,” he said. “We feel that this is the way the world is going to go for the foreseeable future, state universities are going to need a lot of funding.”
The Werth Center for Coastal and Marine studies will be located on the second floor of the university’s upcoming academic and laboratory science building. The unnamed building, a $60 million state-funded project, will be 103, 608 square feet and four levels. It is expected to be completed by spring 2015. While the building project is funded by the state, Papazian emphasized the need to locate additional finances for equipment. She estimated the university would need $10 million in additional funding to “equip the building.”