MARCH 2017

Seven-figure gifts support academic excellence

By My-Ly Nguyen Sperry ’00, MBA ’02

Scientific discoveries. Research breakthroughs. Life-changing innovation. Such accomplishments take talent — and generous investment from donors.

Binghamton University is increasingly attracting a significant level of support from donors that is helping it build on its academic and research strengths and prestige.

This support includes two seven-figure gifts announced by the Binghamton University Foundation: one to enrich graduate education and the other to foster faculty development. Both gifts honor the scholarly and research contributions of two former Binghamton professors.

“Gifts that allow us to recruit world-class faculty and graduate students are transformative,” Provost Donald Nieman said. “To receive two such gifts in such a short period is remarkable and is an indication that donors believe in our stature as a research university and our ability to make key scientific discoveries that will change the world.”

Wu family and Harvey Stenger• Professor Emeritus Tsuming Wu and his wife, Grace Chin-Fa (pictured with President Harvey Stenger), made a seven-figure commitment to create an endowed fellowship fund that will benefit graduate students pursuing doctoral degrees in mathematics or the natural sciences (e.g., physics, chemistry, biology, geology).

The Grace Chin-Fa and Tsuming Wu Fellowship for the Sciences, a merit-based fellowship, will be awarded to first-year doctoral students in Harpur College of Arts and Sciences. Recipients will demonstrate passion for their discipline and the potential to make significant advancements to the scholarly knowledge base on mathematics or the natural sciences, or both.

“Designed to recruit the best applicant each year to a program in any science field in Harpur College, including mathematical sciences, it will attract top students to do graduate work in these fields,” said Susan Strehle, vice provost and dean of the Graduate School, which will establish a committee to select the fellowship recipients.

“Publicity about this generous gift will generate more interest and applications to already-distinguished programs in biological sciences, chemistry, math, geological sciences, physics and psychology. All graduate programs will benefit, and the fortunate recipients of the fellowships will receive vital support for their research work.”

Bruce White ’90, Physics Department chair and professor, described Wu as a “dedicated colleague” in the Physics Department at Binghamton for more than 40 years. Wu joined the department in 1968. His scholarly interests spanned a wide range of topics, including the physics of charged Bose gases, liquid ferromagnets, superconductivity and biophysics.

“The breadth of his scholarship coupled with his unassuming demeanor produced an inspiring teacher of both undergraduate and graduate students,” White said.

Featured Article Photo• An anonymous donor made a seven-figure gift to establish the George Klir Professor in Systems Science, an endowed professorship in memory of George J. Klir (pictured), a SUNY distinguished professor and systems science scholar.

“This first named professorship for the Watson School will trigger an international search for an accomplished scholar who will build on Dr. Klir’s groundbreaking work in complex systems, cybernetics, fuzzy logic and more, and will also preserve his legacy,” said Krishnaswami “Hari” Srihari, dean of the Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science.

“Dr. Klir — named the first distinguished professor in the Watson School in 1984 — set a standard for excellence in teaching and research that is unmatched. And as those who knew him understand, he was not only a renowned scholar and leader in his fields. He was also a teacher and mentor, particularly for those pursuing doctoral studies.”

In the spirit of the work that Klir produced, the Klir Professor will teach and mentor graduate students and continue to advance knowledge and discoveries in systems science, Srihari said.

Klir retired in 2007 after 38 years on the Binghamton faculty. He died in May 2016, at the age of 84.

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Last Updated: 3/7/17