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Central Connections Magazine

$100,000 Endowment Supports the Sciences

Staunch CWU supporters Joseph and Gillian Stoltman have donated $100,000 to fund scholarships for students in geography, resource management and other programs. Joseph is a 1962 CWU geography graduate and a long-time professor in the Department of Geography at Western Michigan University, where he is now a University Distinguished Scholar. His wife, Gillian, has a PhD in virology from University College London.

Joseph said his former geography professors—notably Robert Funderburk, Martin Kaatz, and Otto Jakubek—had a great influence in fostering his love for geography and exploration and in launching his career in teaching and research.

"I majored in geography (secondary education) with a minor in English," related Joseph. "It was in courses taught by my professors that I realized geography provided many opportunities as a major subject of study. Other students in the major were entering fields such as forest management, national park interpretive specialist, wildlife conservation, urban planning, map librarianship, cartography, nature photography, soil conservation and teaching. The students were capitalizing on the dynamic and interdisciplinary nature of geography as a major."

"If one's first choice did not work out, then there were many other fields where geographic knowledge and skills could be applied to a career change. Geography was then and continues today as a major course of study with multiple career opportunities.”

About 20 years ago, the Stoltmans began making annual gifts to CWU.

"The Kittitas Valley and CWU were important in launching me on a successful and enjoyable career," said Joseph. "My family and personal roots are deeply embedded in the landscape of the Kittitas Valley and Central. I visit Ellensburg often since I have extended family there. When visiting, I often take a short stroll through some part of the campus and remind myself of the important opportunities CWU provided for me personally and for my career."

“Giving to CWU is an investment in the future,” he continued. “The university is committed to building the capacity of students to apply the CWU educational experience in local communities, the state, the nation and the world. Gillian and I have made an enduring gift to Central that will provide future students with similar opportunities through the study of geography."

"I hope that this gift will encourage others to make gifts to CWU. Enduring gifts provide financial support that will help CWU achieve its mission. A major part of that mission is student success, and successful students will make a world of difference in the future."

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