STEVENS POINT (WAOW) – A $2 million gift from the family of a University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point graduate who died unexpectedly more than two decades ago will establish the university's first endowed faculty position.
The money from Gerald and Helen Stephens of Peoria, Ill., will go into an endowment that will create a new professorship in the College of Natural Resources and help support wildlife research, Chancellor Bernie Patterson said Wednesday.
“This gift opens a new door in the history of our institution,” he said in a statement.
The Stephens' son, Douglas, graduated from UW-Stevens Point with a degree in wildlife management in May 1991. While leading a student research team searching for a hidden black bear den in northern Wisconsin, he suddenly collapsed and died. He was 22.
Following his death, his family established several endowment funds in his name at the university to support student research and scholarships in wildlife, Patterson said.
Gerald Stephens, a University of Wisconsin-Madison alumnus, retired from a successful career in the insurance industry.
“Our hope is this new position will stand forever as a tribute to our son's memory and carry forth his passion for wildlife at UW-Stevens Point, an institution he so dearly loved,” the father said.