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$1.3 million gift moves UWM closer to new research vessel

The Kohler Trust for Clean Water has given the UWM Foundation $1.3 million toward construction of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences’ state-of-the-art Research Vessel Maggi Sue. This gift brings the university within $3.5 million of its goal of $20 million needed to begin the construction process.

“For decades, the Kohler name has been synonymous with progress for our state, and this gift from the Kohler Trust for Clean Water is a perfect example of innovation combined with care for our environment and our economy,” UWM Chancellor Mark Mone said. “The health of the Great Lakes affects the health of each of us and our quality of life. I am deeply grateful for this generous gift in support of our research vessel. It is partnerships like this that will allow us to protect our region’s most precious resource: fresh water.” 

The Great Lakes account for 21% of the world’s and 84% of North America’s available surface fresh water, and they supply drinking water to 10% of the United States’ population and 30% of Canada’s population. The lakes provide 1.5 million jobs and draw more than 37 million anglers, boaters, hunters and bird-watchers each year, sustaining a recreation and tourism industry worth $16 billion.

The RV Maggi Sue will serve as a powerful tool to help scientists – at the UWM School of Freshwater Sciences and throughout the region – protect and preserve this vital resource. The vessel will be the most sophisticated floating research platform on the Great Lakes and the first of its kind designed specifically for these bodies of water. Its oceanographic-level tools will help researchers detect contaminants, mitigate impacts of invasive species, inform decisions related to nutrient runoff, predict lake levels and provide learning opportunities for future scientists, from elementary to graduate school.  

“We at the Kohler Trust for Clean Water are proud to partner with UWM in this exciting effort to address the health of the Great Lakes,” said Laura Kohler, chair of the trust. “Water conservation is the bedrock of our organization, and we believe this vessel will be pivotal in understanding current and future challenges to this precious resource. My father, Herbert V. Kohler Jr., was a founding trustee of the Kohler Trust for Clean Water. He was passionate about our region’s waters and a great friend to UWM’s School of Freshwater Sciences. This gift reflects his values and vision.” 

The Kohler Trust for Clean Water was established in 2018 to support charitable organizations focused on improving water quality, sanitation or sustainability of the water supply. This is the trust’s largest gift to the UWM Foundation to date. In recognition of this gift, UWM will work with the trust to name a space on the vessel.

“This gift brings the RV Maggi Sue one step closer to becoming a reality,” School of Freshwater Sciences Dean Rebecca Klaper said. “I am so grateful for our community partners who realize what a profound impact this vessel will have on future research. The science that will take place aboard the decks of the RV Maggi Sue will improve our ability to explore, understand and manage North America’s most valuable freshwater resource.”